Name any emotion and here you will find it. An unexpectedly unique work that constantly amazes by touching us deeply.
“What is the biggest challenge you face when trying to make a story-centric game? In our case, having no idea about it, is figuring out what the game’s story is just before we complete it. Let’s not start development. telling a story. We’re trying to evoke feelings that we don’t fully understand ourselves, like ‘what I remember about being on a swing when I was a kid.’ The story doesn’t come until the game itself is in a phase rather advanced. So from that feeling we had to work backwards, to understand which story led to feel that particular emotion “.
Just read briefly the words of Ian Dallas (from an AMA recently held on Reddit), creative director and key figure of Giant Sparrow, to arrive at a very simple but very revealing conclusion: this small studio based in Santa Monica has very little out of the ordinary. And on balance it wasn’t that complicated to understand it even before we got our hands on What Remains of Edith Finch.
Yes, because these guys are the ones who in 2012 created The Unfinished Swan, a curious first-person adventure that is certainly imperfect but incredibly unique. Making your debut in the world of video games with such an original work is complicated even for the most talented of studios, while repeating yourself even getting to improve is something rare and noteworthy to say the least. For this and other reasons (primarily a not so simple development), a bit of healthy skepticism accompanied us as we analyzed what risked being just yet another walking simulator in recent years. In hindsight we were poor fools and Giant Sparrow screwed us big.
Laughing, crying, being amazed in front of the umpteenth unfortunate story of one of the Finches. Emotions never end.
The forest looks much wilder than we remembered but not everything has changed, indeed, a lot has remained completely unchanged. The path, for example, still stands the passage of time but it is above all the house that attracts our gaze. Gigantic, twisted, in some ways monstrous yet familiar, welcoming even if really too unknown. Being a Finch is not easy, the family on the other hand certainly does not go unnoticed and it is not without personalities to say the least particular. although perhaps it would be more correct to say it was not without.
Edith Finch, our young protagonist, is the last surviving representative of this strange family, a girl who, in order to try to shed light on what happened to her relatives, decided to return to the house that for years was a point of reference, a large and ever-expanding refuge, a small castle for a group of people who seem to be under the effect of a strange curse.
In case you want to analyze it superficially, What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of stories, the collection of the last moments of life of most of Edith’s relatives who for various reasons have prematurely left this world. But analyzing the second work of the guys from Giant Sparrow with superficiality would be an unforgivable sin, also because we must admit that we were absolutely not ready for what we experienced firsthand.
Talking about variety is too simplistic.
The spoiler risk is very high with this type of game but what we can assure you without a shadow of a doubt is the fact that the adventure that we found in our hands is one of the most particular works ever made, a container of emotions that in 2- 3 hours transmits very strong sensations able to leave their mark. There is a work to be framed within a storytelling that is based on very solid foundations and that, beyond the contents, exploits mechanics that are as effective as they are refined.
It is the voice of Edith or that of her relatives to fill the role of the narrator relying on texts that literally appear in the game world, secondary elements and that only the most attentive players will be able to grasp, but above all on memories, anecdotes able to offer us a variety of emotions unthinkable and at times unsettling. There is a painstaking work within a game that does everything to deceive us by presenting itself for what in reality is only minimally.
A deception in evidence in particular in terms of gameplay. Even in trying to explain in detail what we experienced controller in hand, the spoiler risk is around the corner but in any case our main goal is to explore the house trying to access the different rooms of our relatives. To do this we will be able to interact with some objects through the trigger and the right analog (used to push, pull and turn what we are using at a particular moment).
Almost a second home.
To these basic interactions are then added those that characterize the stories of our family members, stories that we will experience firsthand through their eyes and that demonstrate an admirable variety of situations. From the crudest realism to the most unlikely and apparently dreamlike event, everything we have learned is constantly denied by design choices of sure impact and by a gameplay that while maintaining its base (the keys used are almost always the same, apart from few variations) manages to be fresh and suitable for the episode narrated, the theme and the feelings aroused.
Returning to the discourse concerning superficiality, in this case we could speak of a simple collection of minigames, but the constant exploration in the role of Edith and the memories of her family always manage to be organic and perfectly connected to each other. A long odyssey in death but above all in the life, essence and qualities (and why not in the defects) of a series of extraordinarily common and therefore even more fascinating human beings.
The absence of Italian subtitles is obviously a limit for all players who do not master English at best but beyond this “defect” there is a quality not just to be praised: the dubbing is of the highest level for every character of the large cast that treads the scene of the Giant Sparrow production. The soundtrack created by Jeff Russo (he has worked on TV series such as Fargo and The Night Of) does its job very well and the graphics sector is based on a well-made Unreal Engine 4 that only shows the side of small frame drops installments which, fortunately, have no negative impact on the gaming experience.
Joy, lightheartedness, hope, depression, fear, guilt. What Remains of Edith Finch is the classic title you don’t expect. A work impossible to label, which hours after completing it comes back to knock on your mind, to torment you, to remind you of what you experienced through the eyes of one of the Finches, discovering up close the events of a family that faced the most terrible of misfortunes has always known how to be authentic and united in its own way.
Ian Dallas and associates have succeeded, they have managed to pack a second game if possible even more unique than the debut represented by The Unfinished Swan, also offering an overall better experience. There are those who will turn up their noses for the limited duration or for a gameplay that is not always thick despite a variety of truly enviable situations but before shooting sentences it is certainly worth asking a question not to be underestimated: which other games are able to convey every emotion possible?