Exploring the family tree: What Remains of Edith Finch review

by MaddOx
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I’ve always thought it’d be quite interesting to explore my family tree; you know, to see if I’m related to any significant historical figures or whether a distant relation may have left me a vast fortune yet to be claimed. I’ll admit I don’t think it’s very likely there will be anything too exciting, although who knows. There is one thing I’m pretty sure of though which is that I won’t be finding any family curses anytime soon unless you count a history of high blood pressure on my Mum’s side of the family.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Edith Finch, the main character in the aptly named PS4 and Windows title, What Remains of Edith Finch by developers Giant Sparrow. A first-person narrative adventure, the game follows the sole remaining survivor of the Finch family on a journey back to her childhood home in Washington. There she tries to uncover secrets about the curse that was bestowed upon her family. As she makes her way through the abandoned house where she once played on the floors as a little girl, she’ll find the answers she was looking for whilst revealing the circumstances of how each of her family members came to pass. The question is, were the deaths really all down to a family curse? Or were the Finch family just unlucky in experiencing a series of tragic events? We’ll let you decide that one.

The game tells the story remarkably well, in fact, I can’t think of a game I have played off the top of my head that does it much better. The problem is It’s one of those that I can say how truly fantastic it is, but until you’ve actually experienced it yourself, I could never do it justice with words. There are some really nice touches though that can help put into perspective at what a good job the developers have done when creating this masterpiece, such as, how the words being narrated come to life in front of your eyes. It’s not just a case of them appearing though because as you walk through them or an object falls into them, the words disperse like they were a part of the world around you, and not just a figment of your imagination.

That’s just an early taste of the magic that is to come though because as Edith makes her way around the grounds of the old Finch estate, you begin to come across what can probably be described as shrines to each family member. As you reach these milestones you become drawn into short interactive stories where you witness how each family member met their fate. From reliving the memories of an innocent child on a tree swing to starring in a comic strip where a crazed killer is on the loose, the way in which the style of these stories differ becomes greater each time, yet each one draws you in just the same like getting hooked on the finest crack, making you want more and more.

When it comes to the graphics the game is just as beautiful as the storytelling. The main plot takes you on an adventure exploring the Finch home and its surroundings, everything so beautifully detailed and perfectly capturing the feeling of a home that has long been abandoned. But, as with the stories, the graphical stylings change too, and where you could say this is a risky move trying to combine several different techniques together, the developers have seamlessly managed to merge everything without it clashing like the Mayweather vs McGregor press conferences. The only issue I did have was more to do with the mechanics when I was crawling under a platform, and although looking around it would seem clear as day, it was like there was an invisible wall stopping me from moving. So either I had entered somewhere I wasn’t meant to by mistake, or the physics on some parts of the games could use a little tweaking.

Not sure what more I can say really, other than this has probably been the best game I’ve played so far this year. The story is the main selling point, so well written and delivered in such a way that really engages the player, but every other area of the game is strong as well. I did face what may have been a couple of bugs during gameplay, but sometimes that just adds to the charm a little and it’s nothing that can’t be polished out.

The TL;DR:

  • An outstanding narrative adventure that few will ever be able to top.
  • Numerous interactive short stories told in different formats keep gameplay fresh.
  • A complete playthrough doesn’t take that long, and replaying offers little more than a chance to complete achievements.

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