Despite being annoyed by the term “walking simulator”, it’s become the term used to describe type of game that’s almost become its own genre. It’s a minimalist classification that turns many people away from some incredible experiences. Which is why I fear that so many people will never give “What Remains of Edith Finch” a chance. Yes, the gameplay is very sparse, but it has enough variety to keep the player engaged and it doesn’t have moments of downtime that often plague games of this type. It’s truly a breath of fresh air that tells a dark story in a very entertaining fashion.
Edith Finch is returning to her family’s home to learn about what’s happened to her family. The residents are nowhere to be found, and you’re left to explore each family member’s room to learn about their part of the family’s story. There are very dark themes present here, and many of the vignettes are very unsettling at times. Learning the fate of each member of the Finch family gets increasingly more depressing. That’s not to say that game isn’t enjoyable, because it certainly is. After finishing one room, I couldn’t wait to get to the next to see the next story and in what way I was going to be told that story.
That’s what makes this game so interesting. Every single story has a completely different mechanic associated with it, so you’re never doing the same thing twice or being told a story with a duplicate canvas. Plus, each story is bite-sized in length, so before you have a chance to get tired of one experience, you’re on your way to the next one. Where most games of this type force the player to spend a good amount of time exploring or using trial and error to figure out how to get from A to B, ‘Edith Finch’ respects the player’s time and doesn’t waste a single minute during this two-to-three hour experience.
“What Remains of Edith Finch” is a tough game for me to sell, because telling the reasons that make it such a memorable experience would completely spoil it. This is a “walking simulator” done right that other developers should follow suit in terms of pacing. While the story is more about the journey than the destination, that journey is well worth the ride, even if the ending falls a tad flat. I would recommend this game along side others of its kind; if you’re a fan of “Gone Home” or “Firewatch”, this deserves to be in the discussion alongside those titles.