Review

What Remains of Edith Finch Review

  • First Released Apr 24, 2017
    released
  • PS4

It runs in the family.

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The minute What Remains of Edith Finch puts its titular protagonist face to face with its slapdash Frankenstein's monster of a house, it seems the game is gearing up for a horror story, closer to Resident Evil than Gone Home. That's actually close to the truth in one sequence, but What Remains of Edith Finch ultimately tells a subtle tale with far more pensive ideas. It plays off a heightened sense of impending mortality, but terror never truly takes a physical form. These are simply the facts, presented as only the victims and witnesses could deliver them.

More specifically, the game follows young Edith on a trip to her family's abandoned, derelict home, built on a rural island off the coast of Washington state. Three generations of Edith's family have lived in this house--and three generations, with a single exception, have died early, sudden, shocking deaths of various causes under its roof. The Finches and those who know them consider this a family curse. Edith, however, is less interested in the possible supernatural implications of what befell her family and more focused on the circumstances that led them to their demise. And so, playing as Edith from a first-person perspective, you explore the house, this living monument to tragedy, not so much to learn the truth about her family but to accept it.

That's an important distinction to make. There's an elephant in the room that becomes clear early on, and it's ever imposing the more Edith explores the house: This is her fate. The specifics are unclear, but if there's one certainty about how Edith will finally die, it won't be of old age. As such, if there's anything resembling an ultimate goal to What Remains of Edith Finch, it's not in solving a mystery or unveiling some hidden backstory about the curse. It's about achieving grace in what's more than likely a graceless end through communion with the lives of her family.

As one might expect, this is an exploration game that stays out of the narrative's way as much as possible. The controls are blissfully simple, with only the two analog sticks and the R2 button needed to perform every action in the game. Every movement--opening a door, winding a music box, using a View-Master, even flying a kite--is performed intuitively, with very little in the way of a tutorial or UI necessary.

Things are a bit dicier with the actual exploration. The game does a stellar job of environmental immersion, with its beautiful tableaus of gothic dread and emptiness interspersed with moments of incredible vibrancy and imagination. But progressing further into the house beyond the first floor involves a rudimentary but unnecessary amount of travel through intertwining secret rooms and crawlspaces that no real people in their right minds would build unless, well, they wanted their house to be the setting for a video game. Once Edith finds what she's truly looking for in each major area, however, the game sinks its hooks in--and deep.

While the game isn't above a sense of humor or whimsy, it never forgets it's in the company of Death, a constant companion through an entire century of misfortunes in the Finch house.

Eleven total family members have died in the Finch house, and once they passed, the family sealed their rooms away, with their belongings intact. When Edith finds a final journal entry, last pictures, or crucial memento from their last days, the game seamlessly shifts to that family member's narrative. These vignettes vary not just in tone and particulars, but in gameplay style.

A father's final hunting trip with his daughter plays out through the eye of their camera, progressing as the player takes the perfect shots along the way, capturing the awkward final moment while on a timer. A little girl's dying fever dream sees her taking the form of various animals, ending up as a skulking tentacled beast taking out sailors a la Dishonored 2. A former child star's death is immortalized in an old-school, Bill Gaines-style horror comic, playable here in bold, cel-shaded, four-color beauty complete with the perfect piece of licensed film score imaginable. While the game isn't above a sense of humor or whimsy, it never forgets it's in the company of Death, a constant companion through an entire century of misfortunes in the Finch house. Its fatalism shapeshifts in every life it takes too soon; it's oppressive in the game's moments of joy, friendly in the face of misery, and never lacking in poetry.

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No Caption Provided

That lyrical quality is where What Remains of Edith Finch finds its greatness: As Edith connects the stories together, weaving in a narrative all her own in the process, the game leaves players with the ultimate task of finding meaning in it all. Edith herself has her purposes, and once the credits roll, her own part to play becomes clear--but what it all means will vary depending on the player. There's no definitive "aha!" moment to definitively say the Finch family is cursed or convey what kind of judgment the game is passing on their choices. And yet, there's power and poignancy putting these final moments in the hands of the player, the knowledge and experiences of generations carried within them as the game plays on. It's macabre. It's often utterly heartbreaking. But it is undeniably powerful.

Developer Giant Sparrow managed to strike the delicate balance between joy and sorrow in 2012's The Unfinished Swan, but What Remains of Edith Finch transcends even the latent sadness of that game, finding the beauty--even sometimes the fun--in what's always fundamentally a tragedy. It's not often that a game's plot slips past the bitterness of grief to finally get to the acceptance, but that's the triumph in What Remains of Edith Finch. Ultimately, if the game has any resemblance of a moral, it's that the bravest, most beautiful thing every one of us does is choose to keep going, despite knowing what's coming.

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The Good
Impressive diversity in art styles and environments
Brilliantly conceived, varied storytelling
Overarching narrative is touching and effective
The Bad
Level design for the main house feels contrived
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Justin Clark was able to play through What Remains of Edith Finch within two and a half hours, viewing all 11 stories and replaying two of them. A review code was provided by the publisher.
194 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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borg7of9b

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This game is so overrated IMHO. Great if you are 12 years old or younger and need something to put you to sleep. Running through a tree chasing a bird? really?? I am pissed that I spent $20 on this game especially since it's so short. If you are reading this before buying, don't waste your money.

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deactivated-5a45424d5378b

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@borg7of9b: Go play CoD then

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p1p3dream

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Ive always tried to get into thes games but ultimately failed. Having said that, i found this game really endearing and played the whole thing through in one sitting. Beautiful.

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smiracle73

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Edited By smiracle73

Comparing it to Gone Home in any sense is not promising. Gone Home totally and completely sucked. Indie games are really hit or miss anyways, Limbo, Inside and The Swapper were all fantastic, particularly the first two, but Gone Home and Journey were disappointing on levels I can't say without using curse words. One thing is for sure, I won't pay full price for it.

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Junior_AIN

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Is this another one of those obscure indie crap Gamespot loves to hand out high scores?

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Mirimon78

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@Junior_AIN: oh, indie?? What made the game industry? What remains as some of the most iconic games in history? The biggest money maker msft has? Highest rated game for xbox one?

All indie.... better than more halo trash..

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deactivated-5b2c8e0382c99

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@Mirimon78: Indie games, for the most part, are crap. AAA all the way.

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horosavinXX

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@Junior_AIN: It sure looks like that.

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iloveyourface

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another ps4 exclusive with a great score. scorpio's like "derrrr when do i get games derrrrrr'

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p1p3dream

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Watched the trailer for this today randomly- it looks pretty interesting!

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zyxahn

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Edited By zyxahn

Hearing Molly narrate her story was ............ unique to put it mildly. I still can't get 2 rabbits with 2 swoops, damnit. Rapture and Gone Home are still the best ones to me. Of the not trying not to scare the sh*t out of you games of course. :)

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NTM23

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Edited By NTM23

Just finished it. It may be my favorite walking simulator simply because it does more than have you just walk. At first, I was just thinking 'I could like this, but yep, it's another one of these games'. It'd be too spoiler-y to mention some of the things you do outside of just walking around the house, but it definitely does more than that, which sets it apart from my other favorite walking simulator games like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Glad I played it and didn't mind the price. I also bought Outlast 2 though, so I will be playing that soon.

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Cherub1000

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@NTM23: big fan of ethan carter though I got bored playing rapture, just didn't grab me what so ever. Would you say this is more akin to one or the other? Also, I grabbed outlast 2 lastnight and a buddy and I sat down and played the first few hours, needless to say it's frikkin terrifying and I'm loving every cold-sweat inducing moment!

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NTM23

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Edited By NTM23

@cherub1000: It's more akin to Ethan Carter. Basically, take Ethan Carter and Gone Home, but make it have its own unique aspects through vignettes and obviously its own story. The game doesn't go full on walking simulator the whole time, you take part in some weirder moments that are basically memories/stories of Edith's family tree.

I don't want to spoil it though. If you watch GiantBomb's quick look, you get somewhat of a better idea. I would say skip that though even and just play it fresh. It's interesting. As for Outlast 2, it's been okay so far. I can't say I'm loving it the few hours I've played. I don't think I'm far in, so it can get better. I haven't enjoyed the enemy encounters as much as I thought I would. It's not as intense either, where the feeling of 'I don't want to die, oh crap, I don't want to die' isn't there as much. The thing I like about Rapture is that it has a great voice cast that brings an interesting story about a town of people and the issues that arise with them. I really enjoyed exploring Yaughton as well.

The problem is that the sci-fi bit to the story and how it resolves is one of my least favorite aspects of it. The walking can be painfully slow and the 'sprint' isn't much better, though this was more of an issue as someone that wanted to experience it more than once (which I never fully did again). Lastly, the brightness is way overdone and the option in the game doesn't fix it. I don't love any of the 'walking simulator' types of games, but I find them to be a nice break from other games I've been playing. Edith Finch is a really good one.

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Cherub1000

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@NTM23: cheers, I'll take a look. Apologies for the outlast joy, I guess it's just really my kinda game? I could stick Alien isolation still and get utterly absorbed in that! Looking forward to Covenant in May!!!

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NTM23

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Edited By NTM23

@cherub1000: Well, no. I don't know, I love the type of game Outlast 2 is (I especially love evil cults as the baddies), and I was hoping I'd enjoy it more, but like I said, I'm not far in. I don't dislike it either like I said. Alien Isolation is my favorite game, among other great titles, of 2014, but not because it's scary. The scariest horror games I've played, where I legitimately wanted to turn it off because I couldn't take it, was Amnesia: The Dark Descent in some parts, and P.T.

Alien Isolation is mildly intense to me. I can't wait for Covenant either; going to see it in theaters, which I rarely do these days. On the topic of horror and Alien though, I don't even like Alien because of the horror, I like it for the sci-fi. The horror is just what makes it a dark sci-fi, which I appreciate. I'm a big fan of the horror genre in games, but outside of games, not so much.

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FreeRyu

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Edited By FreeRyu

I thought this came out ages ago lol.

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Sp00n13

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Edited By Sp00n13

The framerate for this game on the normal PS4 is awful. If trying to decide on which platform to buy, if you don't own a PS4 Pro, go PC if you can.

Hopefully this saves someone from making my same bad decision.

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deadheadbill

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@Sp00n13 I have a Mac Daddy pc and it is not any better there. As someone else said, it gets better when you are inside the house.

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kiloman_74

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@lonesamurai1: patch!

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dockgamer36

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@deadheadbill: digital foundry done an analysis on it the pc version is perfect and I can confirm that, you say you have a mac daddy pc ?. you can go look at DF so stop the lies, the ps4 and ps4 pro are absolutely terrible it's on digital foundry for everyone to see.

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NTM23

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Edited By NTM23

@Sp00n13: It's the worst just in the intro when you're outside, it's not as bad when you're roaming the house. I say 'not as bad' because it's still a little framey, but not unacceptable in my opinion.

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Dattwood

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What does "lyrical quality" mean?

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KahnArtizt

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@dattwood: an intense personal quality expressive of feeling or emotion in an art (such as poetry or music).

Google is your friend.

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kiloman_74

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Farpoint, grand Turismo sport (when again?), even the latest wipeout game in June. More 9 out out 10 in score, games incoming?......?

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Domiddian

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@kiloman_74: I doubt Wipeout will get any 9s. Don't get me wrong, I love those games, but they’ll essentially play exactly the same as the HD/Fury and 2048 games did on the PS3 and Vita. They got a 7 each I believe.

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colbster

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Is there a minigun and grenade launcher? Hope so

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aspinlucas

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Edited By aspinlucas

I've tried so hard to get into these kind of games in the past, but unfortunately they bore the life out of me.

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EmadWolf10

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what a incredible game the emotion I felt through out this game was remarkable without a doubt one of the best narrative written in a video game

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csward

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Edited By csward

A 9 for a 2 and 1/2 hour long game. Hmmm. Seems like "short" should be in the negative column.

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Arkhalipso

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@csward: This seems to be like an endless discussion. In my opinion, these games are all about the lasting impresion that they leave on you. It doesn't really matter how much time you spend playing the game, but how enjoyable that playthrough is. I'm not saying that paying a lot for a short game should always be OK, but in some cases it's well worth it.

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JesterOfBass

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@csward: Depends on the price really. I'm not always the staunch "quality over quantity" supporter, but a good short game is excusable if it's cheap.

At US $19.99, I admit 2 1/2 hours is still a little light on content. But knowing these sorts of games it won't be 20 bucks forever, especially on Steam.

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skippert

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Edited By skippert

@jesterofbass: most 8 hour games set you back 60$ so 20$ for 2 and 1/2 isnt too bad especially if the game is really good.

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Mirimon78

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@skippert: most games on xbox don't have more than 3 hours in them, and all at 60-70 bucks...

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@csward: Being a short game isn't a negative if the story does everything it needs to in that time.

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JesterOfBass

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@Mogan: Exactly.

I'd rather 2 1/2 hours of quality then 5 hours with half of it being filler BS that actually makes the game worse.

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Edited By ChillBoulevard

All these people in the comments are complaining about how overpriced the game is. I agree with ya'll, but I urge you guys to instead just watch the whole game on Youtube or whatever. Although I haven't seen the whole thing yet, I think the first 15 minutes of the game in Gamespot was really really fun and artistic to watch. They're very passionate with the all this family plot stuff. Please, just because it's overpriced doesn't mean you should leave it alone. If you can't buy it, watch it. It's super fun :D

Cheers!

Also kudos to the author of this review (@justinofclark). Love the writing man! Keep it up!

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Edited By tsquared44

Im sorry but this game made me fall asleep 3 times. Another dragging walking sim with a conclusion that you can take a grain of salt from. I respect the devs and theyre creative work but overall its not for me. A 9 is being very nice and im not harsh.

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KahnArtizt

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Edited By KahnArtizt

@tsquared44: Don't ever read books. You may not wake up.

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tsquared44

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@KahnArtizt: I read quite alot of books, play alot of games and watch alot of movies. When I play a movie, I want to chill, relax and maybe get a few laughs or scares. When I read a book, I want to get immersed through each page with the help of my imagination. When I play a game, I expect to be immersed by what is thrown at me and without the help of my own imagination. Frankly, this game did put me to sleep even though the conclusion was semi heartfelt... great nap though.

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Externalpower43

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These guys really love these walking around simulators.

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KahnArtizt

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@externalpower43: If you're gonna describe games that literally then you should just go back to your murder simulators.

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Externalpower43

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@KahnArtizt: Ummm I think you mean saving the world simulators.

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dribblesbarbax

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@externalpower43: Interactive story telling.....yes they do.

What Remains of Edith Finch More Info

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  • First Released Apr 24, 2017
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of short stories about a cursed family in Washington State.
    8
    Average Rating132 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate What Remains of Edith Finch
    Developed by:
    Giant Sparrow
    Published by:
    Annapurna Interactive
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, 3D, First-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Violence