By Sean White
“Walking Simulator.” That is what this genre is most commonly referred to as. You know the games; Firewatch, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Adrift, Gone Home. The list goes on and on. The most recent addition to this list is What Remains of Edith Finch. While on the surface, “Walking Simulator” may be an apt description of this genre, it does not take long for one to realize that What Remains of Edith Finch is so much more than this.
True, the only controls in this game are essentially “walk” and “interact”. However, the way the story plays out in this game immediately separates it from any game I have ever played, “Walking Simulator” or otherwise. The game is told through the first-person perspective of Edith and the rest of the Finch’s, narrated by each member of the family. Much as the way the narration appears before your character’s eyes in this game, the thoughts I wanted to share about this game seemed to appear before my eyes as I experienced it and inspired me to write my first ever review.
And that is the simplest way to describe this game; an “experience”. While it is a video game, in that you are controlling a character through the story, Edith Finch is more of an experience than anything else. The way in which the story is presented is unlike anything I have ever had the pleasure to experience before. The narration appears as floating words within the game environment, subtly continuing you on in the right direction. The music, simultaneously as haunting as it is beautiful, perfectly complements the story, while never fully taking center stage itself. The story of the other Finch family members is told through short vignettes from their point of view (the swing, bathtub, and cannery being some of my favorites), often with some sort of fantastical or whimsical element, playing out much like a storybook come to life. In the end, these stories are connected to one another, much like the family tree drawn in Edith’s journal.
Inevitably, comparisons will be made between this game and other “Walking Simulator” games. If I had to compare this game to any others that I have played, the obvious choice would be Gone Home, albeit with a twist of the movie Big Fish. I am keeping this review as spoiler-free as I can, in hopes that if anyone is reading this that has not yet played this game, they will be able to experience it the way it is meant to be, if and when they do play it. This game is well worth the $20 that it costs, and can easily be played through in one sit-down, topping out right around 2 ½ hours. If you like walking simulators, or even if you just like a good short story, I highly recommend you check out What Remains of Edith Finch.