What Remains Of Edith Finch is a heart-wrenching narrative revolving around one cursed family – the Finches – and their ill-timed ends. The player experiences the stories through the eyes of Edith Finch, the last living member of the family, as she explores the inherited Finch house after her mother’s death.
Developed by LA-based studio Giant Sparrow, creators of The Unfinished Swan, and published by Annapurna Interactive, this 2017 indie game has received critical acclaim and high praise from fans, as well as a multitude of awards from The Game Award for Best Narrative to a full BAFTA for Best Game in 2018.
Originally released on April 25th 2017, What Remains Of Edith Finch is available on PC (through Steam), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One consoles (as well as through Xbox Game Pass).
What’s the story of Edith Finch?
Trigger warning: first and foremost, What Remains Of Edith Finch revolves around the topics of death, isolation, and extreme mental health issues. If that sounds a bit too much for you, this game may not be for you, so please feel free to skip this article. We have plenty of other (more cheery) game reviews to check out!
The story begins with Edith as she travels to the unusual Finch family home in the middle of the woods. Edith has inherited the house along with a mysterious key after her mother’s death, who never told her what it was for. According to Edith, her family suffers from a curse that causes her kin to die in freak accidents, and oftentimes tragically young. From the pause menu, we see Edith’s journal with a hand-sketched family tree, as well as the family members whose fates we experience one by one as we reach the house in search of answers to Edith’s many burning questions.
As we progress through the house, we learn that Edith is the last in her family line – her younger brother Milton disappeared when she was young, and her older brother Lewis died just days before Edith and her mother left the house for good (although it was never explicitly stated, letters from Lewis’s psychiatrist imply his sad cause of death as suicide).
Each family member’s story is looked at in story-driven episodes, almost like unique standalone mini-games, ranging from little Molly’s transformation from a cat to a shark to a man-eating sea monster, to ex-child star Barbara’s Halloween-themed horror chapter about a strange serial killer entering the house. All of these family member episodes have their own individual themes, almost making players feel like they’re in a dream-like fantastical state of magic realism.
What did we like about Edith Finch?
The crowning glory of What Remains Of Edith Finch is the incredible story, hands down. Although the pace was slow, given the nature of a walking simulation game as a narrative mystery story, it never felt like a slog to get through. Quite the opposite, in fact.
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Without giving too much away to anyone who wants to play (and we strongly suggest you do), there are so many layers to each story and each character that make them feel so real, and gives players an emotional impact that’s unlike many other games I’ve experienced. For instance, Lewis’s story, while really engaging and intriguing to play through, left me feeling completely heartbroken by the end. If you like games that stick with you and leave you thinking about them for days – if not weeks – after, What Remains Of Edith Finch should be very high up your list of games to play next.
Graphics and level design are also brilliantly laid out with such attention to detail. While Edith walks through the house searching for clues and answers, there are so many little details, from photos and memorabilia to the swing in the garden, that take on so much more meaning as you unlock all of her ancestor’s secrets. Even the way that the game’s subtitles were animated and affected by the player’s movement – whether by walking, swatting at them, or flying a kite through them – was a stroke of genius that we really loved.
Sound design is also exquisite in Edith Finch, from the beautiful but solemn music soundtrack, to the voice actors’ performances – the casting was done absolutely spot on to make each character feel unique, interesting, and believable.
What didn’t we like about Edith Finch?
Despite the beautiful story, graphics, and vocal performances, there were a few places where What Remains Of Edith Finch didn’t hit the mark, unfortunately. Playing on Xbox (through Game Pass), there was definitely some heavy lag noticed in the more detailed environments, such as the initial forest area and the beach behind the main house. In fact, it seemed to happen whenever there were a large amount of assets loading in, or whenever Edith’s dialogue started up, which caused an unwelcome distraction.
In addition, my game ran at a relatively low frame rate throughout the playthrough, causing some motion sickness. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one – many players have reported similar issues across all platforms and in some cases, stopped them from playing, which is a huge pity. This created some problematic areas of the game (such as during Calvin Finch’s story) that meant I needed to stop for a breather before continuing to play the game.
A new game patch from the developers to address some of these accessibility and performance issues would be perfect in the future, and hopefully rectify a lot of these snags in an otherwise flawless game.
For all of the bad points raised above, What Remains Of Edith Finch still stands out as an incredible story, with plenty of heartfelt moments and mysteries to unravel. Personally, I always felt I left with more questions than answers – nothing ever felt over-manufactured or too over-explained. I must admit there were a few teary moments where I felt a lump welling up in my throat, and one particular part that I found really difficult to continue through, so this is a tearjerker of a game and definitely wise to have a few tissues handy.
So the question stands – What Remains of Edith Finch? A narrative masterpiece well worthy of a remaster.