Critical Play: Walking Simulators

For this week’s critical play I played What Remains of Edith Finch developed by Giant Sparrow. This is a game that I’ve been wanting to play for quite a while so I was excited to see it as an option. It’s a widely available game offered on many platforms, but I choose to play it on my PC using a Mouse and Keyboard for my controls in the beginning, but then later switching to a PS4 controller.

You play as Edith Finch as she returns to her family’s home as the last Finch alive in hopes of discovering what happened to each of her family members. You walk from room to room and pick up an item the belonged to a deceased family member and relive their last day, each story told in a unique way.

I think this is a game targeted towards the theorists out there. The people who have a natural curiosity and want to uncover everything they can. This is a pretty ambiguous game, while some of the Finchs’ deaths are quite obvious as to what happened to them, like Sam and Gregory, you also have some who require a little more thought and possible no way to know for certain, like Molly and especially Barbara.

As for formal elements, they vary from story to story. The Outcome for each of these stories that you experience is that person’s death ultimately. I think the Resources is pretty interesting, as this is a walking sim, the main concern is where do I go next, and in this game this is answered mainly by the words that are being captioned from whomever is speaking. In general, you want to move towards the words.

I think the intended types of fun were narrative, discovery, and fantasy all of which were met in my opinion. Constantly hearing Edith’s thoughts, discovering what happened to each family member, and in some of their stories, taking the role of someone/something else, like Molly where you went from being her to a Cat to and Owl and so on.

I don’t know if this type of fun was intentional or not, but for me this game succeeded at sensational fun, especially during Lewis’ story which was my favorite. It was brilliant how they were able to depict what was going on in his head where he was in his imaginary world and started to slowly lose more and more touch with reality. The music the graphics completely captivated me. Funny enough, I think I started to become like Lewis a bit too, as while I was still mindlessly chopping fish, my main attention was drawn to what was going on in his head.

I don’t think this is a game that needs change, it did what it came to do and I recommend it just for the variety of ways they were able to do storytelling in one game.

P.S. I was able to guess the final twist way before it was revealed or any major hints were dropped.

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