By Kimari Rennis
I’ve never been so deeply immersed and impacted by a story in my entire life. What Remains of Edith Finch is a first person narrative game developed by Giant Sparrow about a curious girl returning to her ancestral home. It can only be described as a work of art.
In all honesty, the graphics did not matter to me during my experience with What Remains of Edith Finch. Even for a next-gen console, I wasn’t focused on how sharp the visuals were, or if the player’s animations match the shadow. None of that mattered. I was entirely hooked on the story, and I appreciated the atmosphere in which the narrative took place. The woods were dense, thick, peaceful, and abandoned, eerily shrouding the area where the Finch’s house is located. At night, you would see the manor buried by the ocean along the coastline followed by monuments, broken railroad tracks, and a family graveyard. What Remains of Edith Finch, excels in setting a calm, uninhabited mood and provides a beautiful atmosphere for the stories and secrets you uncover within the Finch house. What Remains of Edith Finch is a representation of the idea that graphics do not define whether a good is “good” or not.
The story is the backbone for this game. You assume the role Edith Finch, a 17 year old girl who is the last known living member of the Finches. Edith had originally left the house with her mother when she was 11 years old. Now Edith returns in order to uncover her ancestral history along with stories that she didn’t know about her family. During the game, Edith offers dialogue about what she uncovers, what she thinks, and what she remembers about her family. Young actress Valerie Rose Lohman, is the voice actor for Edith Finch, playing a convincing part and portraying the emotion, age, and thought process of her character flawlessly.
But it’s all the actors who shine. The greatest aspect of the story is how each individual is portrayed. The unique scenarios and perspectives given show what happened to each particular family member. One scenario featured a character morphing into different animals and eating everything in sight from a famished shark and an owl hunting large rabbits. Another scenario in the game that really stood out to me was when one of the characters had the world around him blocked out as they tried to live out the fantasy version of their lives as a prince venturing around the world and earning his crown.
When the player interprets the deep meaning behind behind each tale, some would feel empathy and/or sadness. The story relates to family, death, and the fear of death. It can chill you to the bone because each Finch’s story is so detailed. And so are their rooms, which feature so much stuff!
The game has a lovely art style that is traditional, clean, and detailed, especially in Edith’s journal. As Edith learns more about her family members, she draws them on the family tree in her journal – as a way to remember them. The music is calming and fits nicely with the style and atmosphere in the game.
To me, a weakness of What Remains of Edith Finch is the length of the game. One could easily complete the game in the span of three to four hours. I was very interested in the story and had a desire to experience more of the lore – even if it was just in text form. Another weakness is the way you control the game. The walking speed of Edith is slow and restricting. You really have to get used to it. But mainly, I would’ve loved if the game was longer because I absolutely love the story and I would like to find out more about the apparent “curse” that follows the Finches that results in early deaths.
All in all, What Remains of Edith Finch is a very emotional and captivating first person narrative. There’s not much replay value in this game, but it had an unforgettable story and tear-jerking capabilities. I’ll admit it: I did tear up at some parts. But I did not cry.
Writer/intern Kimari Rennis comes to The New York Videogame Critics Circle via the DreamYard Prep School in the Bronx, where the Circle offers a long-term mentoring and scholarship program.