Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming
Blockbuster Gaming – What Remains of Edith Finch
Giant Sparrow emerged on the gaming landscape in 2012 with the critically acclaimed ‘The Unfinished Swan’, a then PS3 exclusive that captured the hearts and minds of critics and fans alike. The studio’s latest work is ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’, a fairly linear, minimalist adventure, just like its older brother, The Unfinished Swan, will conclude its 90minute story with you reeling from several emotional gut punches, having experienced the full emotional roller-coaster. It’s a quirky experience that’s not to be missed.
Stylistically, The Unfinished Swan wowed players with its white and black all over approach – this approach underpinned an inventive gameplay and narrative mechanic that impressed most all who played it. Edith Finch is a bit simpler in this regard with the game playing much like other similar “walking simulators” the likes of Gone Home and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. From a first-person perspective, you play as Edith Finch, a girl who has journeyed to her old, abandoned family home, and begins to investigate the mysteries that are contained within the home. This house has seen death over its many years, and as Edith moves from room to room you’ll come to discover the stories of many of her ancestors, most of whom had died grisly deaths.
As these stories play out you’ll gradually begin to unravel the connections between each family member, and how each branch on the family tree connects to others. What is most extraordinary is the way in which each of these stories are told. In some cases, you’ll be escorted through a comic book that spells out what happened to a particular character, while in another you’ll be a plastic frog going on an adventure in a warm bathtub. Each of these stories has their own quirky charms, and given their short lengths make for a constantly changing and evolving experience.
Edith Finch is a stunning game; it doesn’t replicate the same art style that we saw in The Unfinished Swan but instead looks to take on a hyper-realistic look, and pulls it off superbly. Every room you enter has been painstakingly detailed, with numerous points in every room telling you a story about the character, not just the points required to push the narrative down its predefined path. Voice work is equally fantastic, while each creak and groan that the old, run down house made, put the faintest shiver down the spine.
The subject of linearity in this particular genre is one that’s frequently discussed, and while Edith Finch is certainly a more linear than its older sibling as well as other genre heavyweight Gone Home, it is possible to complete the game without having explored each of family members’ secrets. You can retrace your steps at almost any stage, and, once you’ve completed the story for your first time, revisit any memories at any time to learn more or simply collect trophies.
Emotional resonance is also something that tends to play a major role in games of this nature, and while it’s unlikely that every scene will keep you engaged to the same level, there will undoubtedly be some stories that tug harder on the heartstrings than others. This is purely dependent on some of your own real-life experiences/hardships but the varied, scattergun approach has paid significant dividends.
The story of Edith Finch and her family is hard to describe because it’s one that everyone could interpret quite differently. In terms of its moment to moment gameplay, it’s much safer than the lofty, ambitious approach to The Unfinished Swan, but the main attraction is the story, and in that aspect, What Remains of Edith Finch joins esteemed company in the upper echelon of the gaming pantheon. Beautiful and painful, riveting and soul-crushing, this is a game that you would be wise to experience, it will prompt some of the best gaming based water cooler discussions you might ever have.