“I saw behind me those who had gone (…) I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers (…) and their eyes were my eyes.” – Richard Llewellyn
Developer: Giant Sparrow
Released: April 2017
Price: £14.99 – £17.99
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of varied and sinister tales about a cursed family. The player takes on the role of Edith and must explore the epic but tumbledown, abandoned Finch house to reveal the stories of different family members. The game describes itself as being ‘about what it feels like to be humbled and astonished by the vast and unknowable world around us’ and requires Edith to navigate her unfamiliar family history and uncover the reason why she is the last one left.
Gameplay and Narrative
The game is a beautiful, linear, point and click experience guiding the player on an explorative journey of the family home, uncovering stories relating to individual relatives. These range from the 1900’s to the present and are as varied as the characters they are about. Each is told in a very different way, using a variety of narrative techniques, delivered in diverse tones with a great mix of gameplay mechanics to convey the tale. The only consistent aspects are the first-person perspective and that they recount the deaths of each of Edith’s relatives.
As with the gameplay, the aesthetics and style of each story section are unlike any other, so much so that screenshots could easily be mistaken for totally separate games. This complements the narrative design and is one of the highlights of the game, especially since the artwork is all stunning with no sacrifices being made for the sake of variety.
Generally, the game has quite a dark aesthetic and very muted colour palette. This provides a nice contrast to the brighter parts of the game, which tend to be centred on the individual stories and helps maintain separation between the game’s main protagonist, Edith, and the characters in the stories.
The soundtrack matched the visuals and overall experience perfectly, slightly melancholy for the most part but never imposing. Sound effects were also implemented effectively, really solidifying the sense of immersion, in particular, those featured in the more dramatic sections and the ambient wildlife noises. The dialogue is equally well written, poetic at times without being over the top or cheesy, this is emphasised with some great voice acting that was emotive but with an appropriate air of distance for somebody exploring the pasts of relatives they never met.
While the individual elements of What Remains of Edith Finch have merit in their own right, they also come together in a cohesive and immersive way, not in spite of the variation but largely because of it. Overall this is a unique and creative game with a sad undertone and air of mystery. It is a great example of a narrative-driven experience that effectively uses the gameplay to progress the story in a satisfying way and I highly recommend it!