What Remains Of Edith Finch review

What Remains of Edith Finch_20170424171505

Houses take on the personalities of their owners. The Finch house is crowded with them. Each one waits in the sealed-up rooms that whisper of the family history secrets kept from Edith. Now she’s returned home to get the answers her mother hid from her.

She hid them well. Each bedroom in this narrative walking simulator belonged to a now-dead family member and has been sealed up, the only way to see inside being a peephole installed in a commemorative plaque. Tantalising you with an initial glimpse of the room before you find a way in, peeping in ignites a rabid curiosity, the distorted view making each room look dreamlike.

What Remains Of Edith Finch review

That is, until you crawl inside through one of the secret passages. As no tutorial springs on you at the beginning, you’re left to figure out the perfectly-weighted controls alone. A small detail, it fosters a sense of discovery right from the start. The same sensation that Edith feels returning to her family home, in fact. Each push of the analog stick when Edith is grasping a door handle or book is different, the varied amounts of pressure needed showing their weight. Paired with the zoom-in ability and the slow walking pace, the house feels tangible.

So does the past. Each shrine you find kickstarts a flashback in the form of a minigame. Telling the last moments of one of Edith’s dead relatives, you’re complicit in their deaths yet are shown how inevitable they were. The creativity and variation of each one is astonishing, managing to convey the personality of whichever family member you’re playing as. Despite knowing it was going to end in death, the sheer exhilaration of the games makes it impossible to feel morbid. The ‘replay a story’ option means you can relive the family stories Edith has yearned for. This reiterates that Edith is getting what she wants at last: unrestricted access to her family history.

What Remains Of Edith Finch review

One family member’s game feels like a sell-out as it’s just a flipbook, and leaving out certain key characters who deserve their own minigame judging by how important they were to the story is a disappointment. However, the saturation of props in each bedroom means you can sense what each relative was like, from individual book titles down to the random objects strewn on a desk.

After Edith finishes reminiscing, the text whooshes up the fireplace. A neat bit of animation at first, what it really shows is that her words are one with the house. They build her memories, construct the past around your ears while the portraits on the walls and the book titles whisper the anecdotes she doesn’t mention. The Finch home doesn’t have secrets anymore. But it’ll always have those personalities waiting inside.

A tender exploration of memory, death, and mystery