What Remains of Edith Finch is an experience. This downloadable game curiously comes from the same production company that brought us films like American Hustle, Spring Breakers, and Spike Jonze’s Her. When Annapurna Pictures announced they were entering the gaming world, film buffs and gamers alike were left wondering just what exactly to expect. If this first-person adventure is any indicator, we have just witnessed the birth of an exciting new contender in the industry.
A Long Walk Through Tragedy
Games with fantastic stories can be unique, but the quality usually comes down to execution. What Remains of Edith Finch pulls off storytelling that’s on another level from most games. You start off as the final living member of a family where each of your relatives has died in bizarre and sometimes shocking ways. Each room in the Finch house tells a tale. Your goal is to live out the stories that chronicle the last moments of each of your relatives. It’s a grisly premise, to say the least.
The titular Edith Finch returns home to the house she was forced to abandon as a child. It’s been seven years since she left the Finch estate with her mother, and now it’s time to go back. Edith is the last in a line of heirs to a bloodline that appears cursed to die in unnatural ways. Edith’s journey of discovery takes the player through a visual history of her family and their stories. Some are sadder than others.
When you begin the game, you’re immediately thrown into the world of the Finch family through Edith’s eyes. This is the basic first-person adventure structure (sometimes called “walking simulator”) that we’ve seen in recent hits, but there’s a twist. Where titles like Firewatch and Gone Home put you in the shoes of a single protagonist, What Remains of Edith Finch does something takes you through the experiences of multiple protagonists along with Edith.
Meet the Finches
Every character in this game has a special story to tell. For every bad accident each character experiences, another piece of the puzzle is put into place. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more emotionally charged game on PS4 and PC. Sympathy and empathy for the Finch family come in waves and by the end, you might just need a box of tissues. What Remains of Edith Finch doesn’t earn those tear with cheap twists or shock value. It that tugs at your heartstrings while also bringing a sense of humanity to the harsh realities of loss and passing away.
What Remains of Edith Finch plays like a game that follows the structure of an anthology film. There are twelve stories in total that you play through. Each level introduces you to another member of Edith’s family. It’s all connected to a key Edith brings to her family home. Her mother never told her what the key actually opens, but soon she discovers areas of the house inaccessible to her as a child. Along with being seemingly cursed, the Finches were an odd collection of eccentrics. Some of the rooms in the house are preserved like time capsules and can only be viewed through peepholes until Edith finds a new entry. This leads to many areas where you have to crawl through small spaces and find hidden access points to locked areas.
Though Edith discovers their lives in similar ways, not ever family member plays the same. Young Gus flies a kite before his passing, while famed starlet Barbara lives out the events of her last Halloween. There’s a lot of variety to the settings despite the similar house setting.
Controlling the characters and the basic gameplay mechanics are fairly simple. Most of the game is semi-rail based exploration and item collection, but the character vignettes are all laced with different forms of interaction. The strangest and most difficult parts deal with you morphing into different animals during the story of Molly Finch and the disorienting tale of Lewis. His chapter makes you use the kind of right-brain, left-brain controls that only the most adventurous titles will attempt to force on the player.
What Remains of Edith Finch Is a Must Play
What Remains of Edith Finch is a flagship title in the current wave of independent gaming. Annapurna Interactive just became one of the most exciting players in the game, and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next. Gamers interested in excellent storytelling and exciting visuals should seek this one out. Edith Finch is another great example of what the future of first person interactivity has to offer. We need more games like this in our lives.