Of all the games I got to try at this year’s PlayStation Experience, What Remains of Edith Finch made the most lasting impression. Developed by the same studio behind Unfinished Swan, Edith Fitch tells an intimate story about a unique family. Controlled from the first person perspective of Edith herself, you’ll explore the colorful, Weasley-esque home of the multigenerational Finch family. Apart from their architectural quirkiness, the Finch’s have a proclivity for boarding up the rooms of those who died. As a result, each room of the house is preserved as it was on the day of each family member’s death and mysteriously sealed.
What immediately drew my attention was the Finch household. Fantastic and evocative set dressing in games is sometimes hit or miss and only a handful of story driven games stand out as utilizing its environments to their fullest narrative potential. A literary family, the Finch household has novels of all kinds piled high in every nook and cranny of the oddly shaped house. In one case, the doorway to a room was framed by a beautiful arch shaped bookcases stuffed with the multiple copies of the same book. A sight like this raises immediate questions without saying a word or using some script to call attention to it. It's the small details like this that reveal the family to be anything but normal.
The twenty minute demo I played at PlayStation Experience focused on Molly, the (seemingly) youngest one of the family. Found via a secret crawl space, Molly’s room paints a picture of a precocious child. Her diary, however, reveals a much more interesting and somewhat terrifying past. Written before her mysterious death, Molly shows an inquisitive and imaginative spirit by taking the player through a jarring and strange journey as a result of being sent to her room without dinner. Molly assumes numerous animal forms in the quest for sustenance. One transformation led to another and another and I really didn't have much control of the situation. Like Edith reading Molly’s diary, I have no real control of the story and am merely a passenger along for the ride. And what a wild ride! It was difficult to make sense of what I saw, and instead put faith in the game’s greater narrative to fill in the details.
Unfortunately, the demo ended after Molly’s story. I remember turning to one of the developers who sat with me with a pained expression, begging him for more. Getting cut off like this was actually quite upsetting because I was so engrossed with what was going on screen. What Remains of Edith Finch is on track for a 2017 release (after being in development for five years) and it feels so far away for me. I really can't wait to experience more.
Teen Services Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.