Feel free to either watch the review below or to read it the old fashioned way.
This is without doubt one of the best indie games I’ve played, to date. For me it’s right up there with Ori, Hand of Fate and Darkest Dungeon. What Remains of Edith Finch is a hard game to pin down in just a single sentence. On paper, it’s a first person narrative driven, adventure game, but I don’t really feel that label does it justice. In the game, you play Edith Finch, a teenager who grew up in the family home but then left when she was eleven. Following her mother’s death, she returns to the house in attempt to discover the truth behind the rumoured Finch family curse.
The game is essentially a series of short experiences exploring the lives and ultimately the demise of each Finch family member in turn. The events portrayed in the game do admittedly get quite dark in places, and there is a strong theme of horror in the game. Not the monsters hidden in the dark, demons or graphic violence kind, but more a menacing, shadowy undertone lurking beneath apparent misfortune. However, despite the darkness of the events related in the game, the way those events are portrayed are much brighter. Each one takes you on a different journey, where you learn not just about each character’s demise but more importantly about how they lived and perceived the world around them.
The graphics and overall artistic style of the game is, in my opinion, second to none. Everything from the family home, packed full of belongings as if a real family had just upped and left, and the characteristic rooms of the individuals who lived there, to the artistic flare in the strikingly different experiences and narratives leading you from explorations of nature to imaginary worlds. This is a game that masterfully blends visuals, narrative and interaction which is as deep and grounded as it is magical and haunting. Unfortunately, to go into any detail with regards to the plot would ruin the game, as the narrative is very much what drives the experience. That experience is short, around three hours from start to finish with very little replay value. However, at the cost of £14.99, I still view it as decent value for money just down to the quality of the overall experience.
A word of warning. This game is certainly not for everyone. A friend watched me play one short section and didn’t take to its style at all. In fact, the response as I remember it was “How can you play such a horrible game. It’s the most horrific I’ve seen you play.” Considering my back catalogue of played games, that’s saying something. I did point out that it can’t be that bad as it’s only rated a 16 to which the response was “It should be rated for psychopaths and mass murders only, not a 16.” Well, I guess that makes me one of the two then, because I loved it. Anyway, for those who see only the dark foundation of the experiences, it may prove a little traumatic, which I think stems from the grounded setting resulting in a very high level of realism.
As mentioned before, the only negative of this game is its length and lack of replay value. Along with the added issue that if you have trouble stepping back and thinking it’s only a game, then you may find it disturbing, particularly later in the game. There has also been some complaints of performance issues on the PS4 version, but I played it from start to finish on the original PS4 and didn’t notice any significant performance issues, and certainly not anything game breaking. I, personally, enjoyed the game immensely and highly recommend it. This is an indie project that has clearly been a labour of love and truly deserves the backing of the gaming community. It’s not really the sort of game you should put on at parties or family gatherings, though.