Game Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

May 17, 2021

It's been a while since I played a game on PC, of which the main reason was because my 8-year-old machine won't able to handle the heavy processing a game demands. But I fret not now, because I finally upgraded to a new laptop! 🥳

I did not purchase a gaming laptop, which was my original plan. Instead, I went with a unit that will enable me to decently process moderately heavy activities like video processing and some light music production. And so when I finally got the new and shiny machine on my hands, I decided to test its power by playing a game that I aborted playing before, and that is this game called What Remains of Edith Finch.

I saw the game on Steam and found out that this game won a number of awards, notably The Game Award for Best Narrative in 2017. I got curious and so I went and downloaded the game. 

The opening scene was in a forest, and the character I am playing is about to enter an abandoned house. Okay, with just that opening scene, I felt creeped out (I know, I'm a scaredy-cat 🙀). And then the game went on with exploring the different parts of the house and knowing more about the different members of the Finch lineage and how they died (up to the player how to interpret the scenes, if they were literally how it happened or just the person's imagination or dreams). When I initially played this some years ago, I chickened out after reaching the third or fourth family member, I think. I found myself feeling a bit stressed while playing the game because I had the feeling that I'm being watched while exploring around the house (yes I was that immersed with the game) and also I felt like there's always a jump scare on the next scene of the game. And so I opted out of the game, twice. What made me go back to trying out the game again was the mindset of facing something out of my comfort zone. I needed to get past the fear of this simulation so that I would become more resilient, in some ways, in real life. And so I logged in again and continued with the game.

The immersion experience of the game was effective for me because the setup of the Finch house was very detailed and realistic. The things were all over the place inside the house, but it still felt home-y at the same time. It just shows that the game developers really placed a lot of thoughts on how to design the house for an effective story-telling experience. With just that alone, I already understood why they received and deserved that Best Narrative Award.

*game spoilers ahead*

Some of the highlights of the game for me were:

Molly's dream. I love how my point-of-view as the player changed with each stage of her narration. I was surprised and confused each time. The one that I liked the most was when I was the snake. I enjoyed hunting those people on the boat. 🐍

The uncle who lived underground. The setup was strikingly reminiscent of the one in the Korean movie, Parasite . He was in a very depressing situation down there, but he found comfort and sanity with routines. That is one of the lessons that I got from this game actually. It is essential that we have our everyday routines so that we follow some kind of structure, even if we are just inside of our homes especially during this ongoing pandemic. 

The baby in the bathtub. It was a tragic story but I found it entertaining to control the toy frog to jump around the shower. It reminded me of my childhood wherein I have my own universe with my paper dolls and I just play all day making them talk and play together.  

The camping trip to hunt deer. The player gets to control a camera to take photos during that camp. I suddenly missed taking photos on the DSLR in manual mode. It was already a given that something would happen to the father, but I still got affected when it actually happened, especially given that his last words to his daughter were those telling her how he's so proud of her. It kind of touched the daddy's girl in me.

The boy in the swing. It was pretty obvious what the player had to do. The clue was in the monologue in that scene. I reluctantly made it happen, and again I was emotionally affected when events took a turn, pun intended.

Barbara's storyline. Unsurprisingly, this was my least favorite part. I tensely made it through, but I hated every second of it. The comic-strip setup of that scene was indeed very creative, but I still wished the ending was not like that. 😅

The brother who worked in a fishing factory. This was my most favorite Finch member narration. I specifically liked that scene wherein he was working his usual routine handling the fish in the factory, and then slowly at the same time daydreaming of being this hero received by the king in a palace. Mind you, it was a bit of a challenge for me to multi-task. Essentially that part perfectly embodied the character's state of mind. There were moments wherein I couldn't focus on the fish tasks because I was busy navigating the brother in the daydream setting. For me, it was a very creative and excellent way to really immerse the player into the character's mind. I super duper loved it.

The ending was a bit of a surprise for me honestly, but it's a nice (but sad) twist altogether. I was really glad I had the courage to play this game again. I was able to meet all of the Finch characters and learn a lesson or two from each of their stories. 

Although one thing's for sure, it's just a one-time gameplay for me. 😅

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