A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that What Remains of Edith Finch is a downloadable narrative adventure driven forward by its story and characters rather than combat or puzzles. But players see the accidental deaths -- or, rather, the lead-ups to the deaths -- of several important characters, including a toddler about to drown in a tub. The story explores some hard issues, including the loss of children and siblings, while depicting scenes of authentic family strife. Certain objects in the house -- including several marijuana posters -- suggest that at least one character uses pot. There's no sex, but players view a birth from the perspective of a baby traveling through a pink, fleshy tunnel.
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What's it about?
There are strange families, and then there's the Finch clan. WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH drops players in the boots of the Finch family's youngest member -- 18-year-old Edith -- as she returns to her childhood home in a remote part of Washington state. Deserted for the past seven years, Edith spends the entirety of the game exploring the house, finding hidden ways into rooms that were sealed off to her as she was growing up. She discovers some incredible things about her eccentric family, which immigrated to the U.S. from Norway more than 100 years ago and has always been filled with unusual characters, such as a child movie star and an extreme recluse. Her aim is to better understand herself by coming to better understand her relatives and to pass this knowledge on to her unborn child by a notebook and a detailed sketch of her family tree. The story leads players through every room of the Finch house, allowing them to take as much time as they like to explore and get as much as they can from each lavishly detailed location before moving on to the next, until its conclusion in the final room of the house's highest peak.
Is it any good?
Sometimes a great story is all you need for the foundation of a great game. What Remains of Edith Finch delivers an eccentric family drama to rival that of some of the best such shows on television. And it all begins with Edith. She springs quickly to life through not only her delicately emotive voice but also the words she scrawls in her notebook, which are superimposed upon the environment as she speaks. She's a solid and sympathetic anchor for her family's tragic tale. Starring alongside her is the house she explores. As the Finch family grew over the course of a century, new additions were constructed on its roof, one atop the other, giving it a bizarre, tower-like appearance. And as family members died, their bedrooms were sealed, creating a fascinating time capsule of who they were at the moments of their deaths. Each of these rooms is loaded with baubles and artifacts that help us understand who they were, along with revealing letters that act as portals to cleverly constructed flashback sequences that let us experience the world from their unique -- and frequently imaginative -- points of view.
Things only begin to trip up a little in the final few moments of the story, when a lot happens all at once -- some of it without satisfactory explanation. A few characters' story threads are left dangling, and one is snipped off prematurely. The conclusion doesn't negate any of the gratifying exploration or exposition that led up to it, but it might leave some players longing for just a little more in the way of resolution. Either way, What Remains of Edith Finch isn't to be missed by anyone interested in narrative-driven first-person exploration games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. What Remains of Edith Finch isn't much longer than most movies, but do you think this game would be better experienced in a single sitting or broken into a couple of sessions?
Talk about family. All families have unusual characters, as well as some secrets, so is there anything about your family that you'd like to explore or investigate?
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