So if you haven’t noticed yet I don’t do timely reviews. This is a small blog and as a result the reality of getting a review out either shortly after release or on release is an impossibility. One that I am okay with and I hope that you as an audience can come to accept. What Remains of Edith Finch though is a game that I was honestly interested in. When unfinished swan released on Ps3 I was genuinely surprised. The game was artistic, told an interesting story and even had me a little misty-eyed at points. Edith Finch however has been in a sort of developmental hell. When Giant Sparrow was let go from Sony Santa Monica I thought that The Unfinished Swan was going to be their one trick pony.
Luckily I was wrong. Severely wrong. The Unfinished Swan wasn’t their “swan song” it was just a beginning for this company and I hope that after this game we see so much more for them. So to start things out, no spoilers, I promise. Everything I cover will be about gameplay mechanics and just a general sense of what I liked and didn’t like about the game. So without further ado, what does remain of Edith Finch?
(From humble beginnings)
Tears. The tears and feeling of sorrow is something I never like to admit to when playing a game. Edith Finches story made me cry though. There’s something about a walking simulator that just makes you want to tear up. If you want some of the best stories in the medium then you have found the right genre. From moments of realization, to absolute terror, What Remains of Edith Finch has it all. It’s not your atypical walking simulator either. With most walking simulators it is you discovering the world at your own pace, there’s not much room for exploration. In Edith Finch, it’s all about that sense of exploration.
The story all takes place in one house in the middle of the woods on an island. You are given almost no story to understand what is going on in this world when you enter it. You just know that you are someone who is walking towards a house. Slowly everything starts to fall into place. The story is so well-integrated into the game it is a crazy symbiosis of gameplay in story. Now one nice thing is the way that the story is told, which is from the main characters perspective and the words from a diary.
(Words appear in the world like reading a book, it feels wonderfully unique)
It feels so natural and not forced at all. Even when I tried to push my character faster to test out how the game would react the game naturally kept up. Every area in the game has some story to tell. This music box hides a secret, that bookshelf is actually a hidden pathway and this book has a hidden lever in it. Everything just oozes personality and you can’t wait to see the end. The 2 hour experience I had with the Finch family is one that I will never forget. Not because it is necessarily the deepest and most convoluted plot of all time, but rather because it’s story is one that hit close to home, and for many others I am sure it will too.
(Every aspect of the game fells alive, and by the end I felt like a Finch)
Okay let’s get to the nitty-gritty though, is the gameplay any good? Or is this just another Gone Home style game. Which don’t get me wrong, Gone Home is great, but at a gameplay level it leaves much to be desired? So without describing every part of the game, this is a game at its heart. It is not a pure walking simulator and that is a huge plus, however don’t think you won’t do your fair share of walking. You will.
With games in the Gone Home style it’s very easy to get lost or even come to a point where you have to ask “Where am I going?”. Fortunately What Remains of Edith Finch never really has those moments, and it was something I was really happy with. I never felt like my hand was being held the entire time either. There were a few, what do I do here moments, but they were short and never interfered with the story. That is the game biggest strength and without it I think this game would feel really disjointed.
(It’s a huge environment, although you will never get lost)
In the game you don’t play just a single character. You play multiple scenarios. In one you are working in a cannery while you day-dream that you are a king, controlling both simultaneously. In another scenario you are a bird flying way above the sky while you hunt rabbits, in another you play as a child in a bathtub. Every scenario is unique, and as a result it feels wonderful. This is a game, not a walking simulator, and it’s something I really enjoyed. The biggest fear of every walking simulator is length and luckily the gameplay here actually made me want more.
When I originally finished Gone Home I was glad, not because it was bad, but because as interesting as picking up objects is, it doesn’t make for compelling gameplay for extended lengths of time. By the time I finished Edith Finch, I was begging for more gameplay. More to the story. The story was definitely done, but I still wanted more. Overall this gameplay is a nice little addition to the walking simulator style game. The story never gets in the way of the game and the game never gets in the way of the story. So overall. Fantastic job melding the two.
(I never knew that working in a cannery could be so much fun)
Oh boy is this game pretty at times. From the sights of a house that could better be described as a kids fever dream tree house, to boats on the ocean, this game has a lot of variety in environment. Each area is extremely well presented and when you start the game in the forest, you feel like you are in a forest. With light peaking just above the tops of trees and the light dust particles falling in the house, this is a truly unique experience. One thing that really caught my attention was how well realized the house feels. Every room and part of the house sold the story they were trying to tell and that is always a huge bonus.
Voice acting here is also phenomenal and very well done. For the most part you only hear the main characters voice, but the other voices are very well done as well. When reading a letter from a child it sounds like it comes from a child’s mouth. The world feels believable and even the more outlandish parts of the game are greatly realized.
Now there are a few bad things in the presentation of the game, they are minor, but I think they are worth pointing out. First and foremost the game is pretty, but some parts are pretty ugly. In fact when getting close to some objects in the game you notice how they start to blur. Since this game isn’t too interested with you picking up objects, that is okay, but there is some definite lack of details in items that Giant Sparrow isn’t interested in you seeing. The second and biggest problem is the lack of interaction. You can see your character when you look down and you can also see when they interact with specific objects. The problem is that most objects that should interact with you in some way don’t.
(Environments are quite static, it’s disappoint, but not a game changer)
Walking through the foliage in the beginning of the game didn’t cause leaves to move or even a change in audio. This really surprised me with how important things like that are to selling a setting. This type of thing started to bother me more when I was in the house and objects didn’t move or make sounds when I accidentally bumped into them. It’s not a game changer problem, but it’s worth mentioning. Also there is no step sound in the game, which is really weird for a game like this? Note: There are step sounds on items like stairs, but the general walking around in the house and outside has no sounds.
The presentation here should be lauded though because it really does more than any other game in its own subcategory. Much like how The Unfinished Swan brought a new meaning to color in a colorless world, What Remains of Edith Finch will probably change presentation ideas for years to come. From text that breaks apart as you walk through it and the text semi-guiding you through to the very end, this is one presentation that just feels great and amazing.
(What a way to begin an experience)
I wrote an article earlier this week about Where is my What remains of Edith finch rant, and I think I’m still right, but regardless, what is the list like? Well for the most part this will be a short trophy list and a pretty easy one at that. First beat the game and watch all of the credits nets you two trophies. The other ones are specific to the stories contained within the games themselves, and they are pretty easy as well, you just have to know what to do. So there are no collectible specific trophies and the only one that make take a little longer has to do with hearing all of the dialogue on view master type devices. Again pretty easy list, for 20$ though, I would really have preferred there to be a platinum trophy.
The Final Verdict-
I really enjoyed this game. In all honesty it is one of my favorite story centered games of all time. By the time the credits were rolling I was in tears. As a father it touched me in ways I didn’t expect, as a gamer it made me proud to be so dedicated to this medium. It may not have a platinum and it may be a little steeply priced for a maximum of about 4 hours…again if you are doing all of the trophies. The story though is sublime and one that I could hand over to anyone and they would just have an utter blast playing through.
Due to the fact that there is actual game sections and not just walking, it is a really easy game to hand to anyone and they would have fun with it. Buy this game. Play it. You will love it. End of story.