Critical Play – Walking Simulators – Jason Ah Chuen

Name of game: What remains of Edith Finch

Creator: Giant Sparrow

Platform: Playstation / xBox / Switch / Steam / iOS

Target Audience: Anyone!

Important Formal Elements of the game:

This game is very simple and straightforward. It does not require any prior knowledge about games and game controls in general. You can simply tap to perform a bunch of different actions, and you can drag to move to places. Like for all walking simulators, there is not really an objective in the game. The player can play the game at their own pace. It is a first-person game.

To be more specific about the kind of narrative, it is all predetermined by the creator of the game. However, the game still gives some degree of local flexibility and somewhat the illusion of freedom to the players, because some parts of the narrative are revealed sooner or later depending on which area is explored first.

Type of fun game intended, and if it met its goals:

The main types of fun are narration and exploration. In What remains of Edith Finch, there is such a large, stunning world to be explored. As the player moves forward and explores around, bits and pieces of the story is revealed. In this case, it is the story about how everyone in Edith’s family but herself went missing. I believe the game definitely delivered in terms of the fun it intended. The narrative is so suspenseful and interesting that it makes the player want to keep exploring the world which is full of mysteries. Another type of fun that the game offers is aesthetics. The imaginary world is actually so full of details – on the trees, walls, tables, etc. Together, it makes for such a beautiful, somewhat realistic yet mystical, world. Those aesthetics also help in both the narration and exploration.

Moments of particular success or epic fails:

One particular moment of success was when I transformed into a cat … then into an owl! Those were really good surprises. I also liked how my vision and the way I walked changed because of that. There were also a lot of small moments of success when I was able to figure out where I should head towards to keep the narrative going.

One fail happened at the beginning when I was trying to figure out the controls to move, which was slightly frustrating. There were also a few times I was not really sure where I should be going in order to continue the narrative, so I circled around a few times.

Things you would change to make the game better

First of all, I must say that I really love this game so much as it is! It is currently 3:15am because I have been on it for longer than I expected. This really shows how one can get easily absorbed in the game. I personally wanted to keep exploring and figuring out what happened to Edith’s family!

Perhaps one thing I would improve about the game is giving a super quick tutorial at the beginning to show the controls. Another possible improvement is giving the option for the game to progress more automatically. Towards the end I started getting tired of having to move myself around and click on stuff – if that process was made easier or faster, I would be less tired and have more fun in playing the game. Finally, I was unfortunately unable to play the game with sound, but I am not sure if that was just a problem on my end or their end.

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