Aug. 22nd, 2017

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What Remains of Edith Finch is a walking simulator that takes about two and half hours to complete. I think it was released back in April on Steam, but it just made its way to the PlayStation 4, and oh my goodness it is gorgeous.

What Remains of Edith Finch falls into the most perfect category of video games: It was created for an adult audience by a small team of developers who take full advantage of the interactive gaming medium but have no intention of fucking with the player. The game is emotionally challenging, and there's a lot to explore and take in. The design is flawless, and the atmosphere is never broken by the player having to get up and check a walkthrough.

You play as a young woman named Edith Finch who is returning to her family's house on a small island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The house has been abandoned ever since Edith's mother moved away in order to escape the family curse, which seems to be that everyone who is born into or marries into the Finch family dies in a tragic accident. In order to find closure, Edith tries to reconstruct the details of these deaths, which the player is allowed to experience for herself in a series of games within the game.

The story progression is definitely on rails, but it doesn't feel that way. Even though we know that each story will end in death, the player's interaction with the game is integral to the storytelling. The example I'm going to give isn't so much a plot spoiler, then, as it is a spoiler for the firsthand joy of figuring out what's going on for yourself.

Read more... )

What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those games that made me cry not because it's sad, but because it's so goddamn beautiful. It doesn't give the player the same sort of transcendent experience as something like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or Abzû but instead offers a smaller and more self-contained story. Epic postapocalyptic science fiction is all well and good, but it's also nice to see the gaming medium used to apply magical realism to a Gothic drama of family ghosts and dying communities.

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