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What Remains of Edith Finch

Developer: Giant Sparrow Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
25 April 2017
What Remains of Edith Finch - cover art
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3.83 / 5.0
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1,408 Ratings / 10 Reviews
#398 All-time
#17 for 2017
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I wasn't too sure what to make of The Unfinished Swan, Giant Sparrow's last game; while I appreciated and enjoyed it, it felt like a rare example of a game that's actually too clever. Its central mechanic, turning a 3D platformer into a puzzle game by forcing the player to paint their own path through a blank world, followed in the footsteps of Portal by wrapping the first person shooter genre in a pacifist shell, and while it was a great concept and it had an immediately striking and appealing aesthetic, there wasn't really much more to it than that. It lacked Portal's depth and humour, and as a consequence could never really make that step up from goodness into greatness.

For their second attempt, Giant Sparrow have looked toward Gone Home. What Remains of Edith Finch is, on a fundamental level, pretty much the same game - a woman returns to her deserted family home and must figure out her family secrets by exploring the house. The difference this time is that, instead of losing something key from the game that inspired it, What Remains of Edith Finch expands on it, and then expands on it some more. Where Gone Home was a story about one woman, this is now a story about an entire family, spanning the generations. Instead of playing as one protagonist, you find yourself jumping into the shoes of several different members of the same family, as the game weaves an anthology of vignettes into its central narrative, both broadening the scope and diversifying the gameplay considerably. It's only two hours long, but my word, a hell of a lot is crammed into those two hours.

The central conceit is that you play as the titular Edith Finch, the last surviving member of her family. Your mother had just died, leaving behind a key in her will, which Edith knows will unlock something inside the house where she grew up, a bizarre, jagged building put together by her great-great-grandfather and his daughter after they travelled to the United States from Norway. You eventually learn that the family had left Norway in order to escape a curse that kept killing them off. It did not work; the curse followed them. One by one, the family members who lived there died, eventually leading Edith's mother to seal off all the bedrooms (which her mother, Edith Snr, had turned into shrines), move out with Edith, and abandon the elderly Edith Snr, who refuses to leave the house even if it means being left there on her own.

Uncovering the fate of each family member means that What Remains of Edith Finch is, when it boils down to it, a game about death. You would be forgiven for assuming that it would be a bit miserable, given that a little bit of character and humour is exactly what their last game lacked. You'd be wrong, though. This game is absolutely bursting at the seams with it. As evidence, I offer up one absolutely remarkable scene, where you learn about Gregory. Gregory's death is, on paper, the most tragic in the entire game; he dies at the age of one, drowning in the bath after his mother is distracted by a phonecall she receives from the baby's father, and a subsequent argument they have during a period in their relationship that will result in their divorce. And yet there is barely any tragedy to this scene. It's introduced by the divorce papers, including a note from the father saying the he always wondered why Gregory was so happy, and speculated about what he might be seeing. Well, you get to see it, and it's a ballet - [Work12844] to be precise - as performed in the bath by rubber ducks and other toys. It's absolutely lovely, and captures the wonder of a child's imagination as well as anything I've ever seen in a game (or in anything, for that matter). As Gregory falls below the water, surrounding by his toys, and swims toward the light (which is represented here by the plughole), it feels....almost victorious and celebratory, somehow. If this isn't the most charming and heartwarming way a baby's death has ever been presented I'd be astonished. The imagination and wit of that scene is repeated throughout, as the game has you acting out people's deaths with activities that, more often than not, represent fun, and the simple pleasures of life - flying a kite, playing on a swing, reading a comic book, taking pictures of your family. One scene has you performing your character's deeply monotonous job with the right analogue stick while playing through an increasingly detailed adventure game with the left; even the depiction of getting bored at work has an amusing charm and a sense of wide-eyed wonder to it.

And for all this life and fun, What Remains of Edith Finch is a game that manages to touch on some very heavy subject matter, and treat those subjects with dignity and gravity. Death is one, of course, but drug addiction, childhood trauma, depression, mental illness, and suicide are all part of this family tree, and the game repeatedly resists the temptation to batter you about the head with misery over it - it always takes care to remember that people who suffer from those things are still people, and are defined by more than just their conditions. This is a game with character and moral fibre, and its protagonists follow suit.

Capable of bringing both a tear and a smile to my face, sometimes within the same minute, it feels like a very, very long time since a game has hit me this hard. Sometimes you just know on first exposure that something - a book, a film, a TV show, a song - is going to stay with you for years, and I'm absolutely certain What Remains of Edith Finch, a deeply considered and beautifully realised work, is one of them.
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Iai 2017-04-29T10:57:44Z
2017-04-29T10:57:44Z
4.5
1
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Competent and compelling, though rather restricted
Yeah I'm not sure about this one. I mostly agree with what everyone else will tell you about this game; the vignettes for each character are unique and capitalize on the medium well, the writing is good, and the art direction is beautiful. However, this game loses me in a way that Gone Home didn't: it constantly stops me from exploring. With Gone Home, I could look at every corner, every shelf, and find something that would elaborate more on the story of this family and this house, all while letting the atmosphere speak for itself. Sure it didn't have any real gameplay outside of that, but it capitalized on the whole "walking simulator" idea. Edith Finch almost feels afraid to allow that, ripping my focus away from whatever new shiny thing I see to keep me moving forward through the house and following this story being narrated to me. Now even if there's a story to be told with these surroundings (which there kinda was, but not as much as I'd expect), I can't pay it any mind because the game really doesn't want me to.

That's my most major gripe with this game really. The writing is good for the most part; I wasn't exactly wowed by it, though it made for some cool stories with the family members. I do recommend this game overall, even if I don't love it, it's clear why other people do.
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Pluginmonkey 2021-12-30T00:25:57Z
2021-12-30T00:25:57Z
3.0
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What a game, absolutely fantastic, it gets you in the first minutes, got you into this majestic house full of secrets and puts you into one of the best immersion experiences you will ever have in a game.
The art is brilliant, the way this game plays with psychological aspects it's just a thing of beauty, this is immersion at his best, lots of creative elements put together in a genius way.
9/10.
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vinygraf 2022-07-27T23:47:54Z
2022-07-27T23:47:54Z
4.5
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A quintessential, powerful example of how to utilise the medium of video gaming to tell a story, specifically crafting one that couldn't be told in any other medium that would involve an audience incapable of taking such an active role in the narrative progression. More importantly than that however, despite obviously being an incredible triumph in that regard, is the fact that What Remains of Edith Finch is a tragic, empathetic and layered story absolutely flooding with emotion at every turn. The game feels so detailed in the way it conveys even the most simplistic elements of the plot, very much being easy to follow along but something that I find myself falling deeper into thought about the themes of the game even as I write this. This idea feels best conveyed through the house itself, being excessively cluttered, but with almost every individual element placed feeling methodical and intentional, never arbitrary, either working as something to further contextualise the narrative, or to provide further depth to the snapshots of characters we are presented.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the game is how every experience told in this is framed through a second-hand perspective, with some outsider always interpreting the events that led to the tragic demises of each character. This not only gives more freedom in being able to present a wider variety of scenarios to make the mere act of movement something interesting and constantly leading to new interactions and experiences, but it presents a further layer of subjectivity to things, you're not only having to think of things from the perspective of the characters in these stories, but then also better understand the characters recounting them, trying to understand their own perceptions of these events.

This not only is able to strongly characterise these people that the player gets to know for only 5 - 10 minutes at most, giving further colour to this large family, but it leads to some rather unique plot framing devices, my favourite in this regard being one that was about an ex-child star being told through a goofy horror comic, with elements of the story feeling intentionally simplified and glamourised in order to tell a more goofy, digestible story that lessens the impact of her death. The painful transparency of this makes the story subsequently more tragic in a certain light, seeing what essentially feels like a mockery of a tragedy becoming someone's legacy, and yet it leaves a lot to the imagination as well, layers upon layers all over the place. This isn't even touching upon some of the even more heartbreaking stories that take place in here, because frankly I don't want to be explaining everything about a story based game in a review like this. In terms of game design, I also found it really clever in how the house felt designed to always guide the player in the right direction completely naturally. While the camera would snap towards the dialogue boxes, the house layout itself also felt so clever in how it made even areas with a few different paths feel intuitive to explore, especially notable with how it will often draw the player's attention towards one area, causing them to completely miss another possibility until after they're finished and they turn back around to see where to go next.

Really feels like the kind of game I could talk about for a few hours, but not in any sort of way that would be conducive to a review longer than this, so I'll just leave it with the simple phrase of, play this game, one of the most emotionally potent gaming experiences I've had.
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Kempokid 2022-02-08T12:53:04Z
2022-02-08T12:53:04Z
5.0
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As far as I'm concerned, the "walking simulator" genre is kind of a dead end. But with What Remains of Edith Finch, there's just enough gameplay to make it interesting without taking away from the (fantastic) story. Highly recommend if you can play through Game Pass.
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Great art direction, absent gameplay.
"What Remains of Edith Finch" might not be the best graphic novel-like game around, but it's surely worth its three hours of gameplay. In this game, you get to basically walk around your family's abandoned household and get to know about the story of each of your relatives from letters, diaries and other objects found in their rooms.

The strength of this game is the wide variety of visual styles and gameplay choices used to portray each character's story. It's like going through a demo disc crammed with games of different genres. However, while some stories had astonishing visuals and highly imaginative ideas (above all Lewis' and Gregory's stories), some end up being rather dull or feel like they could have been expanded a little more (Calvin's and Walter's stories).

In each individual episode, the storytelling has good pacing and sometimes even deals with deep themes, but overall it just felt that there was nothing consistent to tie up all stories together. Still, it's definitely a refreshing and unique gaming experience, actually kind of impressive for an independent game.
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manicure 2021-07-18T03:28:12Z
2021-07-18T03:28:12Z
75
1
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100% complete
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Catalog

starvedrusalka What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-19T20:43:55Z
2024-04-19T20:43:55Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hilarion What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-19T15:08:01Z
PS4
2024-04-19T15:08:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Ibisbill What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-19T13:31:52Z
2024-04-19T13:31:52Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
JMW2000 What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-17T03:29:26Z
Windows
2024-04-17T03:29:26Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mayolizard What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-14T04:06:42Z
2024-04-14T04:06:42Z
10.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kenmusava What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-13T05:19:46Z
2024-04-13T05:19:46Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Chief_Leaf What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-13T04:46:17Z
2024-04-13T04:46:17Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
boysdontcryBDC What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-11T21:56:04Z
2024-04-11T21:56:04Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kafeis What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-09T19:16:59Z
2024-04-09T19:16:59Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
xcrom6 What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-09T18:04:31Z
2024-04-09T18:04:31Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
igorluis What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-09T15:24:33Z
2024-04-09T15:24:33Z
5.0
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
waffpng What Remains of Edith Finch 2024-04-04T22:44:35Z
2024-04-04T22:44:35Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (30) Loading...
  • HeatherMadhouse 2023-05-14 22:07:28.61637+00
    i remember getting this for free on PS+ years ago and being confused in the first five minutes of playing and never visiting it again but seeing that people actually love this i think i should return to it and see what the fuzz is all about
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  • alxl 2023-05-16 19:31:15.907512+00
    literally the most overrated game i've ever played lol. the story is so annoying.
    reply
    • Pumas 2023-11-30 00:51:37.898303+00
      lol I like the game but it is insanely overrated
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  • ThatOneDude 2023-06-14 22:52:44.911555+00
    Lewis's section is amazing
    reply
    • alliterativeAlpinist 2024-02-22 12:21:20.600216+00
      Nothing else in the game could match that for sure
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  • marten91 2023-09-02 22:23:27.224044+00
    ''The best walking sim'' more like the only good one
    reply
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  • Lamneth 2023-11-30 13:52:00.94296+00
    lol pretty much
    reply
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  • WinterMirage 2024-03-02 10:32:15.787497+00
    What is it with white people and being obsessed with other culture's cuisine? Like, do they it makes them "cultured" or something?
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • boysdontcryBDC 2024-04-11 21:56:17.669943+00
    very sad
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