Critical Play – What Remains of Edith Finch

This week I played “What Remains of Edith Finch”, an exploration video game created by Giant Sparrow and designed by Ian Dallas. The game progresses through the first person perspective of a teenage girl, Edith Finch, who returns to her ancestral home for the first time in seven years. She relives her memories and we watch her uncover her family’s dark secrets. Captions of Edith’s narration appear and fade out on the screen giving a story-like feel. Because of the dark premise, I would suspect the game to be made for those that are 13+. 

Starting at the beginning of the game, Edith starts narrating and setting the premise of the game. Walking is a crucial element in creating a narrative in this game. The ability to explore the 3D world and uncover all the different corners of the house and its surroundings help reveal the history of the Finch family. The game is very directed and easy to follow, as the narration and icons guide the player on what actions to take: ex: “unlock door”.  She narrates her story in the past tense and by doing so, she keeps us at the edge of our toes as we brace ourselves on what we are about to walk into. Walking creates the feeling of suspense, as while we are in complete control, the narration, music, and eerie setting give us the feeling that we are about to walk in on something dark. The narrated words flow on the screen, often moving around and hinting to the player on which direction to follow. As you follow Edith into her home and interact with different clues around the house, you feel completely immersed in her environment. 

The game unfolds into an embedded narrative. As you walk through the house, you find paintings on the wall, hidden diaries, and other personal objects of her family that start piecing together the story. The game switches between perspectives: the past memories of her dead family vs Edith’s present. Within each of these stories, we are transported to different settings which allow us to explore different worlds. The suspense and direction of the game create the fun, as with each turn we make we learn more information about her story.

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