Hoo, boy! This’ll be something.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll know that they are all more mechanically focused. It’s not that I don’t care of things outside of mechanics but more so I’d often feel ill-equipped to discuss the finer points of narrative and themes in writing. However , I feel given the nature of this game that I’d be remiss to not at least attempt to.
I will start off with a rundown of mechanics and what I was thinking I could make this review about before actually playing the game. To get it out-of-the-way. I believe there still is a piece in what I was going to discuss however. Maybe I’ll get to that sooner rather than later.
Right, first off, before playing all I knew of this game was that it was essentially a ‘walking sim’. I watched one segment of it before deciding I wanted to try it for myself. It appeared to be a walking simulator with some things on top of the most basic structure. I didn’t even watch the trailer before diving in.
I was hoping to write about ‘Walking Sims’. The term, what it means and when it can be reductive or otherwise justified. And how it’s made redundant in the majority of circumstances. Maybe I’ll get to that long form piece soon.
So what’s the game about? Well you play as Edith Finch, the last of the ‘cursed’ Finch family. You take her through Finch manor as she reads the stories of her kin that once lived there. Generations spanning from her great Grandfather to her brothers. It’s an anthological story in that aspect, with each segment having slightly differing mechanics. One has you playing through the eyes of a baby playing in the bath, controlling a toy frog. Another, reading a horror comic about a grown child star. There are quite a few others but I’d rather spoil as little as possible when talking about this game.
I will just say however that I found the segment of Edith’s older brother to be one of the most compelling sequences I’ve experienced in gaming.
You play through the stories of just under a dozen of the Finch clan (excluding Edith). In reading their stories, you learn of them, their eccentricities, and ultimately, their deaths. Not through their eyes as often as through those who remember them. Such as the story through the comic. Or a poem written by a surviving brother.
You go through the home in a linear manner, as your mother sealed most doors when you were younger, only for your grandmother to have drilled peepholes into them, so they could be seen but not used. Of course, there are plenty of passages to help you get to the otherwise sealed rooms.
The stories are all connected in some way to the house. You become familiar with the layout and the house fairly soon, and then you continue on to learn of the different hidden passages and walkways as you make your way from room to room.
Looks and Sounds
The game looks amazing, even on the lowered settings I played it on (on PC). There’s nothing really fantastical about the design for the most part but each of the rooms have such distinct character that there’s still a lot to behold. As for the soundtrack, it is hauntingly beautiful, I regretted almost from the onset that I didn’t buy the game bundled with the soundtrack. I know I will soon enough however.
I’d generally avoid using certain words, mostly in a bid to avoid hyperbole, thinking it’s better to understate something than overstate it. But in all honesty, I can’t think of any reason to not describe this game as, well, as a masterpiece.