What Remains of Edith Finch is all about death or life depending how you want to look at it. Edith, the last of the Finch Family, is in her home and within each room is another story, a story that details the life of one her relatives. Ranging from the 1800’s all the way to present day these rooms serve as tombs of their past occupants. These tombs have been closed since the resident have passed on and all that is left is a collection of memories preserved from time.
Edith is now visiting each room in the house and learning the stories about her past. Exploring each room gives insight on each family member. Each story can last anywhere from 3 minutes to around 20, developer Giant Sparrow wants players to take their time and enjoy each moment. Whether that moment is limited to a simple swing set or fantastic adventure through the mind of a struggling individual.
The story I saw was of Edith’s brother Lewis, whose room was filled with a cloudy aura. Being one of the last stories in the game, Lewis’ room was the smallest. I looked around and found a game console and a old school computer by todays standards. Eventually I made my way over to a letter from Lewis’ therapist. This served as a jumping off point for his story. Narrated by said therapist it detailed Lewis’ life and the monotony that had consumed him.
I was treated at a look into this mans life and it felt like I was reading a page of someone’s diary. I got to know a bit about Lewis and could relate to going to a job that no longer holds an interest. While I chopped the heads off of fish in the hatchery I marched forward in the story, controlling a daydream of Lewis. While I guided my character through the dream I was offered a few choices that added a bit of personal touch and most likely didn’t have a huge impact on the story, but were intriguing regardless. Soon after chopping heads of fish I too fell into a rhythm, I was a moving each fish from left to right lopping off head after head. I too thought to myself “Why the hell am I doing this”, but it all serves and an important story telling mechanic. I don’t want to spoil the story, because I really feel that Giant Sparrow has crafted a tight story that was tragic, yet an ultimately uplifting tale.
Speaking with creative director Ian Dallas opened up a little insight into Giant Sparrow’s intentions.
“Most games you are trying to avoid dying and in this game it’s impossible to avoid”
That statement was particularly interesting because I had never thought of games being this way, always trying to circumvent death and never truly looking at the other side of it all. Guiding Lewis through his fantastical journey kept me interested even though I knew where the story was headed. It was an ominous feeling that kept me clearing fish off the screen.
“..So the hope is the players get into the mindset of enjoying the time they have left.”
I felt this was especially true in the case of Lewis’ story. Ian also told me he hopes this is the main message that people will take away from the game and if the other eleven stories can knock it out of the park like Lewis’, then I have no doubt Giant Sparrow will achieve their goal.
I enjoyed my time with What Remains of Edith Finch, albeit a short one. After four long years in development, What Remains of Edith Finch will be hitting the PS4 and PC on April 25th and is the follow up game from the makers of The Unfinished Swan.
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