When Gone Home hit digital shelves back in 2013, it was the beginning of a trend towards games with small but heartfelt stories, and I personally have loved every minute of it. These kinds of games can use simple tactics and even simple gameplay to tell incredible stories, and so when I first heard about What Remains of Edith Finch and that it was being done by the guys and girls at Giant Sparrow, my eyes went wide. Giant Sparrow, for those who don’t know, is the developer behind The Unfinished Swan – an adorable little story with an awesome idea for a mechanic (go check it out).
So then scheduling for PAX East came around, and when I saw that Edith Finch was being shown, I jumped on it. I had never gotten a chance to play the game, so I definitely wanted hands on with it. I essentially got to play the first half hour of the game, which introduced me to the first family member of the Finch family. In What Remains of Edith Finch, you play as Edith, who has come back to her childhood home to investigate what actually happened to her family, as they all mysteriously died throughout Edith’s childhood.
The first family member you learn about is the little sister, Molly Finch. All of the doors in the Finch house are locked thanks to Edith’s mother, but part of the game is getting into each room. After looking around through the princesses and castles of your younger sister’s room, you come upon a journal of hers, and when you pick it up, you are sent into her story. When playing as Molly, you’re told the story of how she died, but it’s from her perspective, and some of it gets pretty surreal.
Your sister begins by mentioning a few things about the house and the family, but then the fact that she is hungry. Eventually, she transforms into the cat she was admiring from the windowsill. As the cat, you hunt through the surrounding trees around the house for a bird. Once you catch the bird, there is a series of other animals you turn into, including a hawk, a shark, and finally a tentacle monster. What’s disturbing about this whole ordeal is that Molly keeps mentioning that she’s hungry, and with every animal you turn into, you hunt some sort of prey. When you’re the tentacle monster, you hunt humans. It’s real creepy, especially as a little girl narrates the whole thing. She sounds so innocent as she talks about how hungry she is for human flesh. As the tentacle monster, you eventually make your way through some plumbing and back into Molly’s room. I won’t spoil the very end of her story, but I will say it’s not too pleasant.
With games like Edith Finch, it’s often that their mechanics or their graphics end up being sub-par. They’ll sacrifice these things to spend more time on the story, but Edith Finch surprises with great graphics with a clean art style, and smooth mechanics. The game is dreary but beautiful, and moving around the world is easy, even as a shark or a tentacle monster. It seems their producers at Annapurna have seen the obvious potential of Edith Finch and given it the time and funding it needs to fulfill it.
The most interesting and somewhat hilarious tidbit to learn during my short interview with the game’s director, Ian Dallas, was that Edith Finch started as a scuba diving game. He said that he had had some experiences scuba diving, and wanted to portray the “sublime horror of nature” as he called it. That sense of mystery and danger has definitely transitioned into Edith Finch and is one of the big reasons why I can’t wait to dive into this game come April 25.
What Remains of Edith Finch will be coming to PlayStation 4 and PC, and will be priced at $19.99.