As the line between art and video games continues to blur, we are gifted unique experiences that transcend the standard definition of what a video game is or can be. The developers at Giant Sparrow have a talent for creating such games and What Remains of Edith Finch is an exceptional debut for the studio to make on the Nintendo Switch. What Remains of Edith Finch is an adventure game unlike any other, as its approach to storytelling is immersive and influential. Though classified as an adventure game, What Remains of Edith Finch is something much greater than that. It’s an experience that transports you and engrosses you in a way that few games have done before.
The game’s mysterious setting will lure the attention and interest of the player immediately. The game opens with you playing the role of Edith Finch, a descendant of a seemingly cursed family line, as she returns to the Finch home, which is in the Pacific Northwest, upon receiving a letter from her late mother. The home of the Finch family had been abandoned years prior, so Edith’s return to the house is one of reluctance, but also curiosity as she is now free to explore the enigmatic residence and learn about her family and the circumstances that surround their unusual deaths.
And it is with that premise that What Remains of Edith Finch will engage the interest of the player. The game quickly introduces the idea of the Finch family curse – a line that is destined to lose all but one child. The sole survivor is then bequeathed with the responsibility of continuing the family name. Edith is the lone remaining Finch.
What Remains of Edith Finch’s narrative is told by gaining access to the sealed off bedrooms of the deceased family members. Upon entry, you can navigate your way through the room, rummage through personal belongings, and read diary entries. The bedrooms of the Finch family are atmospheric and act as in-game characters. Each room is a shrine to the family member in which had resided there and has remained untouched since their passing.
Getting into a room will trigger an event in which you experience the final moments of the family members’ life. These playable sequences are ethereal and a captivating means of storytelling. Each of these moments play and feel differently from the last, so the game keeps the sequences feeling new. As you explore the house, Edith will write about her experiences and make note of the discoveries she unearths by exploring the house and the bedrooms of past Finch family members. The house and the bedrooms convey a sense of curiosity which drives the player forward and keeps the narrative moving.
What Remains of Edith Finch will have the player wondering what’s around the corner, curious what the object in the bedroom may represent, and interested to learn more about the family. It’s rare to find a game successfully creates a captivating storyline, premise, and such interesting characters. It’s an engaging experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. For most, What Remains of Edith Finch will require in the area of 3hrs to complete, but the game uses every minute to its advantage.
When Edith Finch saw release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the game suffered from some performance problems, but the Switch port runs very well. There are occasional moments of stutter or a sporadic frame drop, but What Remains of Edith Finch runs well on the Switch in docked and undocked mode. Visually, the game looks lovely and all the detail and visual effects that you would expect to see are present. The game is well suited for portable play and is a nice fit for the Switch.
If you are looking for an engaging narrative that you can complete in a single sitting, then What Remains of Edith Finch is the perfect summer title for you. In many ways, it reminded me of a good book or film. It opens with a promising tale and then builds on the premise with each chapter; or, in the game’s case, each bedroom and family member. The short length may deter some, but the experience is fleshed out and fully realized. Like a good book or movie, it is something you’ll return to. Sure, some of the mystery may be lost in subsequent replays, but the story is so engrossing that you may discover elements you missed our first-time through. It’s an exceptional experience and one that will change the way you think about video game storytelling.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Annapurna Interactive