AAA games may have had a banner year, but there was a lot to love in the indie scene as well. Developer Giant Sparrow’s newest title, What Remains of Edith Finch, was the best of the bunch. The dev's first title since 2012’s incredible debut The Unfinished Swan, the title tells a terrific tale about a terrifically unlucky family. Visiting her childhood home, Edith wanders through one of the most fully-realised spaces we’ve ever seen in a game. During this exploration, we are treated to a collection of exceptional vignettes that detail the demises of the other members of Edith’s family as Edith works to complete a family tree and scrapbook for her as-of-yet unborn child. It’s the digital equivalent of a collection of short stories, and it’s phenomenal. The writing in the broadest sense is melancholic and quite bleak, but the game isn’t devoid of levity and brighter moments.
Some of the short stories are downright goofy, and there’s plenty of humour to be found throughout. The writing is phenomenal and all of the short stories feel wildly unique and different from one another, culminating in one of the cleverest uses of gameplay to tell a story we’ve seen in ages. It essentially sees you playing two games at once, and is completely unlike anything we’d ever encountered previously.
Even outside of the game’s primary narrative, there’s a lot to love. Never before have we gotten the chance to wander around a house in a game that felt this authentic. Every single item in the entire house feels as if it was placed there with a purpose and by a real person. Nothing feels artificial. The house is dusty, creaky, and very clearly something that was once beloved, but gone to seed.
And every room of every different family member feels distinct from the other. You can get a feel for the personality of each family member before you even start their individual stories by just looking at their rooms, which is a milestone accomplishment. Not only that, but the environment is interesting to explore. Even if you are less inclined to go through the story, the house itself offers boundless treasures and little things to appreciate as you walk through it. And despite the game’s relatively short run-time there’s just so much to love and appreciate stuffed in that it deserves every bit of praise that it has been given across the year.
Were you a fan of What Remains of Edith Finch’s gothic storytelling? Did you enjoy the fusion of mix and whimsy? Explore your family tree in the comments section below.