What Remains of Edith Finch Review (PlayStation 4)
Every inch of your home tells a story about you. Whether that home is a massive mansion, a studio apartment, or a shared space with friends or loved ones, everything you've done has created a sense of life in that location. The Finch estate is no different, though its history has been cobbled together over centuries to tell the story of not just one person, but an entire family. It's in exploring the mysteries in What Remains of Edith Finch that you find out just what kind of family you were part of, how much of an impression they made on you, and the shape one's lineage takes when it's been hidden your whole life.
What Remains of Edith Finch has you exploring the old family home one last time to uncover the deepest family secrets years after you abandoned it. The reasons for the sudden departure aren't quite clear until you progress through the home, living through your past experiences and the lives of the home's other inhabitants over the last 100 years. The Finch homestead is rife with locked doors and the secrets kept behind them, including the mysterious circumstances behind the deaths of many family members that once roamed the narrow, misshapen halls.
These stories, told through flashbacks via personal letters, diaries, or more intimate personal effects, are the crux of what makes Edith Finch such a special experience. There are no elaborate mechanics to worry about or challenging puzzles to solve. While you will have to interact with a number of objects throughout the game, What Remains of Edith Finch is more of a self-guided tour through the oceanfront estate than it is anything else. What Edith Finch lacks in clever button manipulations however, it more than makes up for in some melancholy storytelling.
Yes, What Remains of Edith Finch is undeniably an experience that will impact you in all the best worst ways. Video games toying with your emotions by placing characters in perilous situations is nothing new, but the emotions those moments inspire aren't often earned. Edith Finch's character-driven approach makes you truly feel as if you're a part of this family, largely due to how tightly constructed the monologue-like segments bring you into more than a moment; they bring you directly into a character.
While playing, it was hard not to see What Remains of Edith Finch as a wonderful game adaptation of a brilliant play. The characters all came and went with fantastically detailed stories about singular moments in their lives. Many of these moments showcased additional family members at different stages of their lives, with the best showing how each of the Finch family members saw themselves compared to another relative's lens. Giant Sparrow's work here is some of the smartest, tightest writing in the space, and makes every moment feel as honest as possible no matter which character is taking priority in that specific moment.
The way Giant Sparrow rotates these stories within the layout of the house itself is a wonder of set design as well. The architecture wouldn't pass muster in a real world setting, but here, you can have a boat slapped onto the top of the house as new bedroom, or include secret passages all through the crawlspaces, even as you add new levels to the house. The personalities of the different homebodies come through in every little nuance from the posters adorning walls and tchotchkes scattered across tables or desks. The connection to the Finch members is immediate, and wraps you up even more in Giant Sparrow's carefully crafted mysteries.
Of course, were these tales told in an ordinary way, or without any shake-ups to the presentation, What Remains of Edith Finch wouldn't have been nearly as memorable. Some tales do unfold in a rather simple fashion with few flourishes, but that only makes the reality of those moments more precious. Edith Finch also breaks traditional flashback mold by having some escapes take place within the pages of a classic comic, within the imagination of a young child, and even in the troubled psyche of an older brother.
It's because of all this careful attention to detail that What Remains of Edith Finch is a hauntingly memorable experience even though it's only a few hours long. You will have a hard time forgetting any of the Finches and what they did with their time on the now-hallowed grounds. Equal parts somber, whimsical, devastating and charming, What Remains of Edith Finch is a moving exploration of what it means to be a family, to be loved, to be missed, and how the places we call home become just as much a part of us as we are of them.
This review was completed with a digital copy of What Remains of Edith Finch provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.