STAFF REVIEW of What Remains of Edith Finch (Xbox One)

Monday, August 14, 2017.
by Jennifer Dingle

What Remains of Edith Finch Box art Giant Sparrow, a developer best known for their PlayStation exclusive game The Unfinished Swan, has developed and recently released a title called What Remains of Edith Finch on the Xbox One. It is a game that features a series of short stories spanning numerous generations of the ill-fated Finch family. First released on PC earlier this year, this highly anticipated first person narrative adventure recently made its console debut, and Xbox One fans should be interested indeed.

When we first meet the 17-year-old Edith, she is returning to her long-abandoned family home after her mother’s passing. Seven years ago, the Finch family left abruptly after the tragic loss of Edith’s brother. A key was bequeathed to the young Edith, the only remaining family member, and she was left to explore the Finch estate and uncover the secrets that the family had hoped would remain forgotten. We soon discover that the Finch family has a terrible curse upon them, with most of the relatives meeting an untimely end. From the 1900’s to modern day, the Finch family tree is filled with aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great grandparents, all of whom have perished in shockingly tragic accidents.

The gameplay centers around Edith, of course, as she uncovers hidden passages throughout the house, giving her access to her ancestors rooms that have been sealed shut after their tragic passing. Within these rooms lie memorials, with their date of passing mixed in along with a few items that give clues as to how they lived their life. I use the term gameplay quite loosely, as What Remains of Edith Finch plays more like an interactive storybook than a game. There are no puzzles to solve, no difficulty levels at all, and there is zero chance of failure. Sure, you can interact with the odd item here and there, but What Remains of Edith Finch keeps the narrative linear, keeping your focus on the items and rooms needed to tell the tragic tale of the cursed family.

The few controls needed to play feel slightly awkward, as you use the left and right trigger to open and close doors or interact with various objects, but it’s nothing that really took away from the game. Just a minor nuisance. Unfortunately, early in the game I encountered some slowdown to the point where it was unplayable, even after restarting my console, and had no choice but to start the game over. Having just finished a particularly disturbing moment and having to play through it again was definitely bothersome. I really do hope that it was just a hiccup and not something others will have to face.

What Remains of Edith Finch potentially could have been repetitive and boring, simply walking through the house from memory to memory really doesn't sound like much fun. However, Giant Sparrow adds a great touch to keep things interesting as each family member’s story is told from a unique point of view. From the eyes of cat, through a camera lens, a flip book, or the perspective of a young child in a bathtub, each family member’s take is engaging. It is a refreshing way to progress the narrative. and I was quite eager to move on to find out what happens next. I genuinely felt interested in finding about all the Finch family, intrigued by the lives they lived and whatnot, and I’ll admit the the story got me truly heartbroken when I found out how they passed away.

There are certainly some shocking moments as we get to know Edith, and a surprising detail about her is revealed during the game. And be forewarned, I certainly don’t want to spoil the story, but What Remains of Edith Finch can be a bit disturbing at times. The Finch family is truly cursed, and the way each family member dies is quite terrible. There is one particular family member’s story that really left me feeling crushed. Upsetting as they may be, each family member’s tale is told so well you’ll get quite caught up. It only took me two hours or so to complete the game, and after the credits rolled, I was left wanting more. It’s one of those games that has stayed with me for a few days after I had played it, thinking about some of the heartbreaking moments.

Visually stunning from the moment Edith makes her trek through the forest path, What Remains of Edith Finch is gorgeous. The ancestral home was so awesomely detailed, the surrounding property just as beautiful. I would love to live there, especially in the castle that Edith’s grandmother built for Edith and her brothers. It was a pleasure to explore every single room and the outdoor environments, even though I could only interact with items that progressed the story. Considering the budget and the time constraints that the developers faced, you’d think it would make it nearly impossible to get this detail. Oh, and it is only a $20 game. I do admit though, that I would have loved the opportunity to perhaps solve a puzzle or two, pull a book off a shelf and read it, or explore every nook and cranny of this delightfully eccentric home.

The voice acting is just fantastic as the visuals and adds a great touch to the emotion of the stories, especially the actor who portrayed Edith herself. Much of the music was borrowed from well-known soundtracks, such as Halloween or Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, but quite often you find the game to be eerily silent as you explore the decrepit house, which adds a bit of a frightful element to the game.

What Remains of Edith Finch is one of the best narrative adventures I’ve ever played. It very well could be a contender for a Game of The Year category, or at least an Indie award for such. Sure, it does have a few technical faults, but it’s story will leave a lasting impression on you for days, and the beautiful imagery and fantastic voice acting fully immerse you into the incredible lives and tragic deaths of the cursed Finch family. While the credits rolled just after two hours, I truly feel that it’s worth spending $20 on given the presentation and story alone. I cannot recommend this game enough. What Remains of Edith Finch is a game that one should definitely experience.

Overall: 9.2 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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