Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 052018

After I started this month’s celebration of horror games, a friend asked me if this meant I would finally play What Remains of Edith Finch.

I was surprised, since I didn’t know What Remains of Edith Finch was horror, and I’m still not sure I’d call it a horror game, but it was definitely creepy enough for Celebrating All Things Spooky.

What Remains of Edith Finch follows 17-year-old Edith, the last living member of the Finch family, as she returns to her childhood home to learn more about her family’s strange history and the supposed curse that has caused them all to die.

It’s largely a “walking simulator,” told through Edith’s journal as she recounts the story. Her sentences appear in the game world as you walk and investigate things, which is a nice touch, and you experience other stories in similar ways when you find a letter, journal, etc. from someone else in the Finch family.

The game largely plays like a collection of short stories, and they don’t all have the same gameplay, either. While some use the same first-person exploration as Edith’s gameplay, others shake it up with gameplay twists like flying as an owl or taking photos to advance the story.

Every member of Edith’s family is dead, and these small stories show you how they died. Many of them have a point where you know what’s going to happen, but you have no choice but to play out the tragic events, which gives the game quite an unsettling feel.

This sense of discomfort also builds in the house, where the bedrooms belonging to the dead family members have been sealed off, and secret passages let you explore the bizarre structure.

My feelings about this game are mixed. As I was playing it, I found myself favorably comparing it to other walking simulators and thinking that yes, this is how you should handle that style of game. I loved the stories, and I couldn’t wait to see what grim, somber tale I’d uncover next.

However, by the time I got to the end, I felt a little disappointed. I understand it wanted to stay ambiguous, but it just felt like it needed one more piece to be complete.

Click for What Remains of Edith Finch spoiler
For me, the problem is Edie’s story. As she approached the remains of the original house, I thought we were going to learn a possible source of the curse – something ambiguous enough that there might not be a curse, but still a hinted explanation.

Instead, we aren’t allowed to finish the story, which leaves the sense that there IS some huge dark secret waiting to be uncovered… except we never uncover it.

This sort of ambiguity reminds me of Scratches, which also played with the idea. Ignoring the epilogue, Scratches gives you enough evidence to build up an argument on either side: it’s plausible that the curse is real, but maybe the realistic (and equally disturbing) explanation is true.

What Remains of Edith Finch tries to do the same thing, but it doesn’t have that same sense of resolution. Nevertheless, I’m glad I played it, because I enjoyed the journey even if the ending didn’t quite live up to my hopes.

Destiny Chronicles didn’t meet its Kickstarter goal, so we’ve had to reduce the scope. You can learn more about our plans here.

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  3 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Spooky: What Remains of Edith Finch”

  1. I really enjoyed Edith Finch (and am glad you finally played it!) I do agree about the ending.
    By the way, if you ever play the game The Unfinished Swan, you might remember a piece of Edith Finch that is kind of an easter egg for The Unfinished Swan (which is on PS4 and made by the same developer)

  2. […] discussed What Remains of Edith Finch last October, and so this year I decided to finally play The Vanishing of Ethan […]

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