'What Remains Of Edith Finch' Preview: The Richly-Told Narrative Of A Family's Downfall

what remains of edith finch
what remains of edith finch (c) Annapurna Interactive

What Remains of Edith Finch has gotten a lot of buzz, and after the preview I played at PAX East 2017, I can see why.

The game follows Edith Finch, the last living member of the Finch family, as she makes her way through the sealed rooms of the large, ungainly house in which she grew up. Each sealed room represents a different Finch family tragedy for Edith to explore. My demo encompassed the tale of two brothers, one of whom died at a young age, as Edith checked out their childhood bedroom. Top-tier voice acting and attention to detail make the short stories impactful, and Edith goes through several generations of her family tree, taking notes in her journal as she goes.

Gameplay is super simple. It consists of Edith picking things up, pulling or pushing them and reflecting on what she knew (or didn’t know) about those family members. Each room was sealed after that person’s death, and the rooms are rich with a million tiny details that make them feel like rooms real people actually lived and breathed in. The details are period-accurate as well, giving the impression of a journey back and forth through lives frozen forever in time.

Each Finch has a different story for Edith to imagine through the items they left behind, and you actually go through the experience of Edith imagining those tales. The stories feel immediate and poignant, each with a varied yet simple gameplay twist to engage you in its action.

But really What Remains of Edith Finch feels like it’s What Remains of You The Player . Every person has a family history, and within that history, family legends: origin myths and fantastic stories that may or may not have happened exactly the way they were passed down, but whose objective reality is not that important. Edith Finch is rediscovering her family history and its legends and myths. It’s impossible to play the game without bringing some of your own family history to bear and reflecting on the thoughts and feelings of your ancestors, who surely lived lives just as rich and full as your own.

This intensely narrative-driven indie game has a haunted, desolate feel with shades of existential horror here and there, but it’s not all tragedy. Edith’s survival is its own type of triumph, and her quest to unite the fragments of her hidden history is an optimistic one, the kind of thing someone undertakes to better themselves and more fully comprehend their own place in the world.

This game will not be for people who want a whole lot of gameplay in their games. My demo of What Remains of Edith Finch did not demonstrate puzzle elements or strong physics or anything like that. But the visuals are beautifully crafted, the atmosphere is singular in the sad tension of its loneliness, and the stories promise to be heartstring-tuggers in all kinds of stripes. I really look forward to learning more about What Remains of Edith Finch.

Are you looking forward to What Remains of Edith Finch ? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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