Exploring the Tales of the Ill-fated Finch Family
The recently released game, What Remains of Edith Finch, offers a unique and remarkable experience. Rather than a single story, it presents a collection of short stories, forming an anthology centered around the theme of death. As players take on the role of Edith, the last surviving member of the Finch family, they delve into the tragic tales of each of her relatives, spanning generations from the early 1900s. The Finches are notorious for their misfortunes, with some believing in a family curse. Edith’s journey unfolds as she explores the sealed bedrooms of her family members, each room offering a glimpse into the lives of those who once occupied them.
Uncovering Memories through Interactive Vignettes
Within each room, players encounter artifacts that trigger interactive moments, allowing them to experience snapshots of the person’s life at the time of their death. For instance, in the story of Calvin, Edith’s granduncle who tragically passed away as a child in the 1960s, players attempt to swing higher and higher on a swingset. In another vignette, players embody various animals as they join Molly, Edith’s great-grandaunt who died in the ’40s, on her imagined exploration of the world in search of food. These playable moments serve as the foundation for each experience, with the rest of the narrative evolving around them.
Edith Finch: Standing Out Among “Walking Simulators”
What sets Edith Finch apart from other “walking simulators” is the unconventional approach it takes to storytelling. While titles like Gone Home or Dear Esther share similarities, such as exploring empty houses and uncovering the lives of previous inhabitants, Edith Finch puts its interactive experiences at the forefront. It challenges the notion that the story must dictate the gameplay. Instead, the focus lies on creating immersive and emotionally-charged moments. Each vignette is carefully crafted to evoke specific feelings, showcasing the true power of storytelling in video games.
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Ian Dallas, the Creative Director of Giant Sparrow, the game’s developer, explained, “We’re not primarily interested in telling a story…we’re really interested in exploring a moment.” The team aims to capture the simultaneous beauty and uneasiness found within these moments. Storytelling in Edith Finch serves to set the mood rather than act as the main event.
The Power of Imagination and the Perils It Brings
A recurring theme throughout Edith Finch is the role of imagination in the lives and tragic ends of the cursed Finches. Whether it’s Calvin’s imagined flight from a swingset or Lewis’ escape into a fantasy world to cope with the mundanity of his existence, the game challenges players to consider the consequences of losing oneself in personal escapes. This exploration of escapism within a medium often associated with escapism itself adds depth and thought-provoking layers to the storytelling.
Image used with permission by copyright holder
According to Dallas, the team didn’t purposely set out to make a game about imagination. However, as they developed various stories, they found that those centered on the perils of imagination resonated the most. The Finches’ stories raise questions about living a longer but less interesting life versus embracing one’s imagination fully. There are no definite answers presented, as players are left to ponder and draw their own conclusions.
A Profound Reflection on Death and Life
While death is undoubtedly a central theme in Edith Finch, the game doesn’t dwell solely on sorrow. It also explores the beauty and complexity within those fleeting moments of existence. Each character’s story reflects their unique experiences and coping mechanisms in the face of mortality. Edith’s great-grandmother, Edie, immortalizes her family’s tragic tales through paintings, while her son, Sam, channels his emotions into a military career and encourages his children to face challenges head-on. The game provides a nuanced perspective on the human experience, showcasing both the tragic and the sublime.
Playing Edith Finch encourages players to contemplate death and mortality from unexpected angles, challenging preconceived notions. However, the game’s creator, Dallas, admits that working on the project hasn’t dramatically altered his views on the subject. He explains, “I’ve spent so much of my life thinking about death in general that I don’t know that this game has actually changed it that much… It remains an interesting subject for thought.”
Embracing Acceptance and the Circle of Life
What Remains of Edith Finch conveys a profound message about the inevitability of death. While the Finch family carries a perceived curse, the game ultimately finds solace in accepting death as a natural part of life. As Edith embarks on her journey of self-discovery and heritage, the game acknowledges that death can’t be escaped but suggests that it is not an entirely bleak or hopeless concept. In a remarkable twist, the game concludes not with death but with the celebration of new life.
OnSpec Electronic, Inc. is proud to be associated with the development of Edith Finch, a thought-provoking and emotionally engaging experience that challenges the boundaries of storytelling in video games.
- Everything announced at Annapurna Interactive Showcase 2022
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