“If we lived forever, maybe we’d have time to understand things. But as it is, I think the best we can do is try to open our eyes, and appreciate how strange and brief all of this is.”
What Remains of Edith Finch is a mystery adventure and walking simulator video game developed by Giant Sparrow. It is a collection of strange tales about a family in Washington state narrated by the last surviving member, Edith Finch. Although each of the family member’s tales are told in different and unique ways, they are all told in first-person perspective and all end with their deaths.
If you know me, you know I have been an avid gamer for a few years now. Despite getting into it more in my later years, I still remember playing Tomb Raider at a young age and falling in love with the virtual worlds games could create… and of course Lara herself. Fast forward to now and I truly believe video games are just another way of telling a story and that belief is even stronger after playing this game.
I admit that walking simulator games aren’t for everything and are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum in terms of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto etc. However, what these games aim to do is tell a story and convey a message and that’s exactly what this game did.
Everything in this game is unique and different despite not being a huge original story itself – a girl going back to her family hope hoping to find out its, and her family’s secret. From the very beginning, I knew this story was unique. Everything from the beautiful music and the layout of our narrator, Edith’s, monologues. Upon entering the house, we are presented with a lot of rooms that appear to have been sealed up by Edith’s mother as a way of protecting her from the family’s curse and their past. However, travelling through secret passages, we are able to enter these rooms belonging to her ancestors, and find out their stories.. and how they died.
I don’t want to spoil anybody but I will say that each of their stories are told in beautiful and truly artistic ways – through the eyes of animals, as a comic book character, through a series of photographs you can take yourself and as a toy prince. Essentially, you play through the eyes of the Finch family knowing that you are leading them towards their deaths and that is what makes this game so emotional. Although I don’t want to talk about all the character’s stories in depth, I did want to speak about one – Edith’s brother, Lewis.
Each of the stories, including their deaths can be very vague – to the point, it can be our own interpretation what happened to them. However, it is clear Lewis had troubles with substance abuse and mental illness – his death is told through a letter by his therapist. We play as him whilst he is at work at a cannery (a lot of fish are killed.) With one trigger, you control his hand and the fish you are dealing with, and playing above this scene, starting as a small ‘thought’ bubble, is his fantasy. Essentially, in order to cope, Lewis has created an imaginary world where he is a prince in charge of his own kingdom. Whilst handling the fish, we also have control of his ‘character.’ What you don’t notice, is that over time, the imaginary thought bubble gradually takes over the screen, symbolising this imaginary world taking over his reality until you can no longer see his reality. This all leads up to his death – his imaginary world overtakes his reality. To see this done, in such an artistic and gradual way, was spine-tingling. That chapter alone was actually the inspiration behind this entire blog post – I just wanted to talk about it. Why? Because it’s real. Speaking as a person living with mental health issues, I know how easy it is to slip into your own head.
Overall, I’d recommend this game even if you don’t even game. Watch a playthrough on Youtube, or read up on it. It’s truly magical and thought-provoking and deals with real life issues, sometimes without realising until it’s over.
Lots of Love,