Death and Whimsy: The Fantastical Tale that is What Remains of Edith Finch

Every now and then, a game will be released with some kind of interesting game mechanics that are unique, compelling, and fun, to a point. However, as we have probably all experienced, once the thrill of this new mechanic wears off, we’re often left with little more to be desired. A flat story, poor graphics or progression, or, worst of all, that wonderfully gimmicky mechanic becomes tedious and unbearable. What Remains of Edith Finch has managed to find a way to avoid such catastrophe. By creating mini-segments within the game which use different play styles, art styles, and each with a different feel to them, the game ensures that no one mechanic becomes dull or tired.

The game centers around the titular Edith Finch returning to her childhood home, looking for answers about her family. As you explore the house, you come across journals and other accounts that share the story of another family member’s final moments of their lives. These range from tragic, to humorous, frightening, beautiful, and even downright hilarious. Some of them are pretty simplistic. For instance, one is a simple flip book. Another involves opening cans of peaches over and over, and then going outside. My two favorites involved a format similar to the old Creepshow horror variety movies, where you navigate through the pages of a comic book. My other favorite consisted of performing a certain monotonous task with one hand, while guiding a character through a series of events with the other. It becomes so immersive, and really helps to put the player behind the wheel of the story being told at the time. With so many intermissions to the main story, with such a range of styles and play, the game remains entertaining, even with a relatively slow pace.

What Remains of Edith Finch does have a number of notable drawbacks to it. Primarily, while the game allows for some manner of exploration and deviation from the main path, it is still almost entirely linear. Through the course of the game, there are perhaps two pairs of stories, found relatively close to one another, which can be completed interchangeably from one to the next. Otherwise, the stories tend to have an order to them, and the game drives the player in a very specific direction. Also, on a similar note, exploration outside of the main storyline seems to be relatively meaningless. Aside from a few achievements and trophies I earned for going the extra mile in some instances, there appears to be no collectables or other extras in the game to warrant any real exploration. While it’s not inherently necessary, a game that has little to discover also offers little in the way of replay value. The bulk of the game is experienced in first person view, and much of the environment is not interactive, with all points of interest marked rather clearly, which further detracts from the exploration.

For its faults, Edith Finch still has a lot to offer. The graphics, while not hyper-realistic, are still rather immaculate, and create a seamless environment to explore. Probably the greatest attribute of the game is the way the story is presented. Apart from the unique storytelling methods when exploring Edith’s family history, Edith’s segments of the game are also quite unique, as her words are displayed as part of the environment, cast on walls and hovering over certain points of interest. This serves to create a haunting immersion to the game. Some of the stories use the same method, but in a more interactive fashion. As well as the writing, the voice acting is top notch, with Edith’s portrayal, in particular, lending a great deal of realism to her character.

Overall, this game offers an interesting and unique story, with a gameplay style that remains fresh throughout. While the game is slow paced and linear, there is still plenty occurring within the stories to entice the player. Unfortunately, the game is rather short (I believe I completed it within three hours), but the compelling story nearly makes up for this. If you’re a fan of the Telltale series of games, this will probably interest you, as a similar form of interactive storytelling. The accounts of Edith’s family, and the way they are presented, do a lot to set this game apart. While three hours is not a long game by any means, even for the reduced price, Edith Finch is still a worthwhile experience for those looking for something new and interesting. What Remains of Edith Finch is available on Microsoft Windows and Playstation 4.

Have you had a chance to play the game? What did you think? What was your favorite story within the game itself?

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