This week Frido takes a look at What Remains of Edith Finch, a game that uses various artistic styles to tell some dark stories of death.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a glorious piece of storytelling, and that is just the game’s purpose: to tell a story. The game has a wonderful art style, and although that’s something I say quite a bit about games, what makes What Remains of Edith Finch an artistic masterpiece is its multiple art styles throughout the game. The game is a collection of tales about the deaths of Edith’s family and her exploration of their deaths. Let’s dig in.
Edith Finch is returning to her childhood home that she and her mother abruptly left when Edith was still a child. Edith’s mother left Edith a key to the house after she passed away. The game begins as Edith is walking the roads to her old home. She explains that there is a curse upon the family and that they all die at young ages. She has drawn a family tree with names. Edith’s mother, Dawn, blocked off the rooms of the family members which are left as memoriams to those who have passed. Her mother has locked the rooms, but her great grandmother, Edie, drilled little peep holes into the rooms. Every family member has their own room, and they build onto the house more and more instead of basically recycling those old rooms. There are secret passageways throughout the entire house connecting all of the rooms.
Edith’s great great grandpa, Odin, attached the original house to a ship and sailed across the sea from Norway with his wife and newborn son. The house obviously crashed and they landed in a place called Orcas Island off of the coast of Washington state. The wife and son both died and Odin remarried. Odin had two daughters, Molly and Edie. Edie married Sven.
As Edith begins to explore the house, she reads diaries and letters that explain what happened to the family members. Each retelling shows the story of how a different member of the Finch household dies, and you play as that member of the family while the story is told. Each retelling has a different style and uniqueness to it. Some styles are more entertaining than others but they all are just gorgeous. If you haven’t played the game yet, Below are some of the stories of the deaths of the members of the Finch family. If you haven’t played the game I highly suggest that you play this game for yourself. The game is about five hours long maximum if played with a more of an exploration attitude.
It’s never explained how Molly died, and that’s how most of the children’s stories are; the game leaves it up to your interpretation. Most are obvious except for Molly’s. Molly is Edie’s sister and the daughter of Odin. Molly is sent to bed without dinner. She searches her room for things to eat, and sees a robin outside her window. She leaps out her window and turns into a cat. As the story progresses Molly changes into multiple animals and continues to eat to quell her hunger. The story shows off Molly’s imagination as she writes the story down in her diary. Molly’s retelling and really cool but a little long. The last creature she turns into (I don’t want to spoil it) is hard to control. This isn’t surprising considering that the game is made for storytelling and not for actual gameplay. However, it was frustrating to say the least.
Calvin Finch died at a wedding by being swallowed up by a storm. Calvin swung back and forth on a wooden tree swing, wanting to swing all the way around the tree. His brother Sam said that he had made up his mind on swinging around the tree and that he always wanted to fly. Players swing back and forth into the air. The wind picks up as Calvin starts to go over the branch. He loses control and begins to fly in the air and into the ocean.
Barbara is my favorite story. Barbara was a childhood actress who was known for her scream. Now that Barbara was a little older she screamed like an adult and not a prepubescent child. The story is set up like a comic book, and the art style is amazing. As you play as Barbara wielding a crutch on Halloween night, the Halloween theme song plays in the background to add an extra spook. No one really knows how Barbara died. All that they found was her ear in the music box.
Walter is Barbara’s brother and was at the house the night she went missing. He goes underground and hides in a bomb shelter for 30 years after being traumatized by the disappearance of Barbara. Walter feels the shake of a train in the bomb shelter every day, and one day the shakes just stop. Walter decides after no shakes for a couple of weeks that he has had enough of the shelter and decides to leave. He says that he will enjoy any time that he has up top, especially the food. It’s a very touching moment and makes players think of what is important in life and to cherish every moment. Not long after Walter goes up top, he’s hit by an oncoming train.
Sam is Calvin’s twin brother and Edith’s grandfather. The story is in the hands of whomever is holding Sam’s old camera as he goes on a hunting trip with Edith’s mother, Dawn. The story has a calming atmosphere with music and the sound of nature. Sam wants to teach Dawn how to protect herself and learn survival skills. Sam teaches Dawn how to shoot a deer. As Sam goes to take a photo the deer that was presumed dead rears up and throws Sam off of a cliff.
By far the saddest of all the Finch deaths. Little baby Gregory at only a year old had an amazing imagination. As his mother Kay comes to drain the tub, she receives a phone call. The tub begins to fill up too high and Gregory begins to drown. The presentation isn’t gruesome or gross; it’s full of what we can only assume is what Gregory sees in his child imagination. Gregory uses the toys in his tub and makes a musical masterpiece controlling the little toy frog.
Gus is Edith’s uncle— her mother Dawn’s brother. Gus was protesting the wedding of Sam and his step-mother, Kay. Gus stood on the beach with a kite spinning the letters that would be Dawn’s poem. The wind picks up and it starts raining, but Gus, being the resilient little man, stays in the storm and is picked up by a passing tornado. The moment is very stylistic. With the wind taking the words and eventually the chairs and decor for the wedding, spiraling in a beautiful fashion.
Milton goes missing. No one knows where he goes or what happened to him. Edith finds a flip book that shows Milton painting a black hole onto the door and walking through it. And that was the end of Milton.
This is my second favorite story. Lewis was a recovering drug user. He began working at a canning factory, chopping the heads off of fish. To deal with the monotony of his day, Lewis made a world in his head, which sprouted into multiple people and even a city. He would travel within the world, creating new cities and still continuing his day at the cannery. Lewis began to forget the world he lived in and completely lived within the world of the king. He began to hate the cannery; he enjoyed living inside his head. It doesn’t say exactly what happened to Lewis, but it is assumed that he stuck his head in the chopper at the cannery. The story is beautiful and watching it continue during his time at the cannery can be hard to watch thinking about how he is slowly losing his grip on reality. It’s hard to think about the monotony of daily life, doing the same thing day in and day out.
The game has so many artistic styles that it forms a new style all its own. During the regular story of Edith walking around, there is no real spark about the atmosphere. Whenever you enter the world and story of the other Finch family members, it forms an entirely new game on top of the outside world. I played What Remains of Edith Finch with no intention of writing a review, but I finished the game and decided that other people need to know what a great game this is. I highly recommend What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s an experience of a game, and it would be amazing to have separate games for each of these characters. What Remains of Edith Finch is currently available with Xbox Game Pass.