What Remains of Edith Finch is now the bar set for all Interactive Dramas going forwards. It’s a compelling anthology of little narratives that build up to much more than the sum of it’s parts.
Giant Sparrow, of Unfinished Swan fame, are no strangers to making good games. Here, the player is following Edith Finch. She hails from a cursed family. Every member of the Finch Clan, going back generations, has died in a meaningfully ironic fashion, as their lives and goals overtook them.
She returns to their ancestral home following the death of her mother, and begins to catalogue the stories of their unfortunate lives and deaths. She investigates the life of each of the each of her family members, picking at the narrative clues of their personal rooms and their lives. Then, she will get a better understanding of their Deaths through personally experiencing them. Each of these stories has a unique gameplay and narrative twist that makes for a refreshing take on the “walking simulator” genre.
Some choose to work with a different visual style, like the extended sequence depicted in a pulpy comicbook style. Some go for a different style of gameplay altogether, one of my favourite sections simply involving flying a kite to progress the story.
The house itself, as a setting, is a patchwork of design. Each of the characters rooms is a vignette designed to quickly convey their personality and dreams. There are specific books in each room, colour palettes and so much more. In spite of the game taking place after their Deaths, each of these characters is understood to have had a vibrant and rich life.
As the game progresses, the story becomes increasingly engrossing as the sometimes tragic, and often darkly funny deaths of the Finch Family are played out on screen.
Sometimes pulling on the heartstrings, but never too upsetting, the game is a fascinating engagement with death and life in equal measure.