[Please pardon any typos in this entry; I have a bit too much adrenaline in my system for reasons I can’t yet disclose, but will hopefully reveal in the not-too-distant future.]
So where was I? In last week’s post, I had rolled credits on Mass Effect Andromeda after sinking in 60+ hours and nearly all of my remaining available attention after worrying about my mom in the hospital and being alone in my house while my family vacationed in Florida.
I am now in that familiar post-game void, where the urge to sit down and play something is at odds with the lack of anything fresh in my library. I mean, yes, I have dozens of games in my backlog, but a lot of them are either things that I’ve already played or are things that I can’t find my way back into. (Exhibit A: Final Fantasy XV, which I’m just not sure I’m ever going to get into.)
That said, I do need to play something, because there’s a giant Mass Effect-sized hole in my life, and so over the weekend I started and finished What Remains of Edith Finch for the PS4.
I don’t know how to describe this game without spoiling it or, arguably worse, comparing it to Gone Home. Not that there’s anything wrong with Gone Home! I adore that game. And in all fairness, I’m not sure that Edith Finch would even exist were it not for Gone Home; after all, Edith Finch is, among other things, a story about a family that is told via the exploration of a strange house.
That said, Edith Finch is a remarkable achievement, and one that will linger in my mind for a very long time. I’m not sure I’ve been as emotionally affected by a game since, well, probably Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. To be sure, this is a story about death, of a family that feels cursed, and of the eerie and odd spaces of the mind.
I should also state, very loudly, that Edith Finch is not a “walking simulator.” That is perhaps the most ingenious thing about it; as you explore the house and experience the final moments of your family members through journal entries, those journal entries become playable set pieces, and part of the puzzle is seeing just what you can and can’t do. Ironically, my least favorite character narrative (that of the older brother, recovering from drug addiction and working a very repetitive job in a cannery), contained the most compelling gameplay – your right hand goes through this very mechanical and repetitive (but necessarily very precise) movement pattern, while your left hand ends up doing something utterly different and fantastical, and then suddenly the end of that sequence comes out of nowhere. (Well, not nowhere – and again, it’s impossible to talk about this without spoiling it – but in the most general terms you’re led to expect that the actions of the right hand are where this person’s end will result because you’re too busy paying attention to what’s happening with the left hand, but what ends up happening is something else entirely.)
And, of course, the game’s ending is – look, I can’t talk about it. It is better to not know. Perhaps I’ll write up a spoiler-filled post and talk about it, because I HAVE to talk about it. But GODDAMN the ending hit me like a ton of bricks.
Folks, the game is $20 on Steam and PS4 and you should play it. It’s about 4-5 hours and it’s unlike anything else you’ll play this year, and it will move you in ways that you might not expect. As I’ve noted before, I spent $90 and 60 hours on the deluxe edition of ME:A and didn’t care about a goddamned thing I was doing; I finished Edith Finch in two sittings and I’m not sure I’ll ever get it out of my head. It is executed about as well as it can be, and this will be near the top of my GOTY list without question.