I love me a bit of a walking simulator and really enjoy how they can tell stories in a wholly unique way, straddling the depth and complexities of books and the interactivity offered by games. What Remains of Edith Finch is a walking simulator game developed by the same people who did the rather great The Unfinished Swan. Telling the story of a teenage Edith as she returns to her family home What Remains of Edith Finch is a story about discovery, truth and also a sort of coming of age tale.
As with other walking games interaction is limited here and attention is placed on the story and the setting instead. You take the role of Edith Finch, the last surviving Finch, and have basically come back to your family home to have a nosey round, and what a house this is. You’ll spend the majority of your time going through secret doors and hidden tunnels, this is not your standard 2 up 2 down.
The house is rendered really well with visual flair and style in abundance. Each room is designed to tell a story of who inhabited it. Looking at the clutter and items in the room will reveal details about the personality of the person who lived there. Given that a large part of this game is exploring the environment the fact the house looks as good as it does makes this activity a visual treat.
As you explore the house you work your way through rooms once occupied by your, now dead, relatives. Each room is unique in both layout and interior decoration and you really get a feel of who inhabited each one, the detail is exceptional. Interaction is limited very much to focussing in on certain items and once you do this Edith will give a bit of a narration about the item. The narration is the thread that holds the whole game together and the actress who plays Edith does some brilliant voice work.
The meat of the game takes place round little set pieces, or stories, within each room. These tales provide character and plot for the family member who used to live in the room. No two stories are the same in both presentation and content, to explain anything more about these would be to spoil the game as they need to be experienced firsthand to truly appreciate. Progression through the game is very much marked by these tales and the story is served up piecemeal through them. These little tales are really excellent and consistently surprised me. These tales are what makes What Remains of Edith Finch one of the most unique and memorable games I’ve played.
Tonally the game goes for something of a mild horror vibe with nothing too scary but a general sense of unease is present in the empty house and the preserved rooms. The whole game is centered around death and how you remember those that have passed, in that way it is a bit like the momento mori the Victorian’s used to keep.
For all the game explores methods of storytelling, it doesn’t really challenge the existing walking simulator formula and it suffers from the same limitations other games face. Interaction is probably even more limited here than other games as you can only interact with certain prescribed objects. Edith also walks at a slow pace with no run button. These issues didn’t bother me in the slightest, but be warned this isn’t an action game.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a fantastically memorable experience, one which only the interactive medium of videos games could provide. Yes its short, and yes it has limited interaction, but if you’re looking for a novel and consistently surprising game then this is for you.
+ The graphics are excellent and the house but looks wonderfully detailed
+ Excellent voice acting throughout
- As a walking simulator interaction is limited