What Remains of Edith Finch | game review
A very bizarre family history, to say the least.
Game summary: Edith Finch travels back to the Finch family home in Washington to explore her ancestral history after recent family events drive her to learn more about herself and the Finches. (IMDb)
It's actually been a few weeks since I finished What Remains of Edith Finch before writing this post and I think the reason why I've left it so long (normally I write a post 2-3 days after finishing something so I can let it sink in) is because it's quite unlike most other games, making it difficult to properly describe without sounding like a Wikipedia page going over what happens.
You mostly play as Edith, roaming about her family's now-empty home and finding things written by or relating to other, deceased members of her family which leads to short 'vignettes' dealing with them and how they died. Some of these sections are short and others are long, with some playing very differently to the others, which does help to keep things fresh as you never know how each story is going to play out.
Mainly, you learn what a bizarre, maladjusted, reckless bunch the Finch family were - including Edith herself, climbing all over the place while twenty-two weeks pregnant! - and there's the undercurrent of a suggestion that the family were cursed, but I'm not sure I'm onboard with that theory. Sure, some of the family's deaths are verging on being a little Final Destination-like in how they happen, but there's nothing supernatural going on as far as I can tell - although it's really up to the player to decide.
And that's really it as far as What Remains of Edith Finch has to offer. It's not particularly long and none of the vignettes are difficult by any standard, so anyone who picks it up should be able to complete it with relative ease, although I will say that I had to fight motion sickness a fair bit while playing, so that might be something to consider if you happen to suffer the same in first-person games.
How the game relies upon making an impact is in the telling of the stories and I will be honest that a number of them aren't particularly interesting, feeling like they've only been included to connect other pieces of the overall story of the Finch family history together. However, there are some vignettes that are really fun to play and really well-executed, combining gameplay and story in amazing ways at times.
It does help that it's a pretty good-looking game and that the voice-acting is pretty special too, especially Valerie Rose Lohman as the titular Edith Finch. I wasn't feeling particularly connected to what happened to her family for most of the game, but I didn't realise how attached I was becoming to her as a character thanks to the excellent performance, which made the ending hit far harder than I thought it would.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a difficult game to recommend fully, because it ultimately depends on what matters to you most in games: if it's challenging gameplay, then I would suggest you avoid it. Otherwise, if you've got a few hours to spare and enjoy what is at the very least a well-made game with moments that can be surprising narratively, then you will probably enjoy this at least as much as I did.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a curious game that I don't think will be for everyone, as it's not particularly challenging - at least, from a gameplay perspective - and how much you enjoy it will very much depend on how quickly you can 'connect' to what's happening. It's enjoyable enough otherwise, and how the game ends really worked for me, so there was definitely something good about everything leading up to that point.