What Remains of Edith Finch is a story about a girl and a house. The sole surviving member of the Finch family, Edith returns to her family home to relive the stories of her deceased family members and to learn the truth behind the Finch family curse.
What follows below are my thoughts and feelings of the game and these will contain *SPOILERS*
The house itself is a marvel. Situated in the middle of a forest in the state of Washington, the kooky, non-uniform Finch house is impressive from a distance, eerie in close proximity and fascinating inside. Extensions and new upper floors have been precariously added to house to preserve the old bedrooms as shrines for the deceased. Once a Finch family member dies, their bedroom is sealed as a macabre tomb. It’s Edith’s hope to discover the secrets locked inside.
Grief weighs heavy on the heart of Edith Finch, yet it’s clear that she’s disconnected with many of her relatives due to that fact that only one Finch from each generation lives long enough to have children of their own. It appears that Edith’s passive remarks when uncovering the untimely fate of her uncles, brothers and grandparents are a result of the constant death that surrounds her family. For me as a player, however, I felt the grief and sadness with each short story or letter reminiscing on the last precious moments of life. Each room features interactive objects, things of personal importance to their dead owner, alongside scatterings of memorabilia there is a portrait and a piece of scripture. Interacting with these transports the player into the shoes of each lost soul for a short segment. These stories are incredibly diverse, spanning from as short as a single minute to as long as fifteen. Text propelling these short stories forward is embedded in the environment, interacting with it using objects allows each of these individual stories to progress.
The subsequent stories all play out similarly, elements of happiness tainting unfortunate deaths that are impossible to avoid. It’s clear that every death shakes the Finch family a little more than the last one. As Edith’s exploration of the Finch house concludes it becomes clear that Edith herself is pregnant and her reasoning for returning to the house is so that her child knows the truth behind the Finch family curse and doesn’t have the same secrecy of his heritage that Edith herself had. Life and death are once again poignant in the final section of the game with Edith’s story coming to an end as she dies in childbirth, leaving her son the sole survivor of the Finch family at the end of the game just as his mother was all alone at the opening.
What Remains of Edith Finch is unlike anything I’ve ever played before, utterly heart breaking and totally unforgettable. I was so involved with the story that I forgot I was effectively playing through a walking simulator. Questions of ‘curses’, the fragility of life and the inevitable conclusion of death are the standout themes of this story, but their interpretation is left solely to the player. Is there a family curse? Are the Finches ‘the most unfortunate family in America’? or is the misfortune that follows them simply down to parental neglect? These are the questions I can’t stop considering days after I watched the final credits roll.