From the creators of The Unfinished Swan, a very depressing but poetic story comes another tale that is equal parts depressing and poetic. There is just one major flaw holding it back. It is nowhere near the artistic rendering that its predecessor was, but that doesn’t do too much damage to it. The problem is that doing a review of this game means that I get to go into more the artistic merits of it than the gameplay elements. This is a game for those who like unconventional games that take your mind to very strange places. If that isn’t your jam, trust me, best to just pass. So now let’s put on my hipster hat and go into a game that I can already see the anti-SJW crowd calling a “walking simulator.” A title that this game whole-heartedly does NOT deserve.
The plot goes that Edith Finch is returning back to the family home. It’s a dark house that has as many stories as it does dead bodies in its cemetery. A tragic story of a family that Edith has returned to so she can uncover. And along the way, she comes to some realizations about this home and what it represents. Does the mystery come together in a fitting climax where all the disparate elements make sense and you have an emotional catharsis much like the previous work of this company?! Well…no. But props to how close they got.
As I said, this game is not a walking simulator. To call it that is to be underselling how this game plays. Sure, the story of Edith is pretty much just walking from place to place with basic environmental interactions. However, each of the narratives that tells the story of one of the Finch family dying incorporates all kinds of gameplay dynamics. My favorite being where you have to manipulate the sticks on the controller to do different tasks at the same time. Can get confusing, but that fits with the narrative. While this game lacks the novelty in the pain elements from the last game, it does at least have something going for it.
When I saw the original promo for the game SJWs fawn all over, Gone Home, this is what I thought I was going to get. A game where you explore an abandoned home, but there is a definitive creepy edge to it. While I wouldn’t call this a horror game, its use of atmosphere is truly fantastic. Without a single jump scare, this game makes the house it is set in very ominous. As you uncover all the secrets and build up the narrative, the place gets less and less inviting. Which just makes the fact that it never really builds to anything that much more frustrating.
The best thing about this game is the first three quarters of the narrative. Sure, the exposition can be a little much, but you learn to roll with it because you think it is building to something. Which brings me to the thing that I need to talk about. I will try and avoid outright spoiling the ending, but I will spoil the elements of how it comes together which may set your expectations. If that’s something you want to avoid, go to the Final Verdict now.
Here’s my problem – the ending. This game has some pretty great build-up. Right as we are FINALLY getting to see where it was all building to and if it would be something more, the game just stops. In the most anti-climactic way ever, it just stops. I was so frustrated by that. I mean come on! We are finally going to know what the mysterious force surrounding this house is, and you stop?! What the hell!? I was actually really stoked to see just what it was that had come into contact with this family. It is hinted that the actual stories being told in this game give the forces at work power, but since you never get to find out what it actually was, you never know! I hate that this game has so much great narrative tension build, only for it to crash and burn. Part of me thinks that the development of the game got a little rushed at the end, or maybe they had written themselves into a corner and decided to go with the “you never know what it was” thing, but I honestly think that works against this game.
All-in-all, this is a decent game. As games purely for art’s sake go, it’s fine. But I think the lackluster ending really does damage to the whole narrative, and that is a real shame. That doesn’t make this a bad game. Just not one that I would recommend. Do with that what you will.
6 out of 10