What Remains of Edith Finch - Recensione

Author: Alessandra "Aelinar" Borgonovo
Date: 2020-07-30 23:07:35
Who has had the opportunity to try the Unfinished Swan a few years ago, will not be new to the mechanical details that the guys from Giant Sparrow introduce in their productions. After the success that preceded it, therefore, it is almost obvious to expect a result - if not better - at least identical from What Remains of Edith Finch. Part of the "walking simulator" category and presenting an exploration context not unlike that of Gone Home, the game puts us in the shoes of young Edith, traveling to her now abandoned birthplace built on a rural island off the coast of coasts of Washington state. A bizarre house in its construction (at first glance it reminded me of the Weasley family's Lair), which hosted three generations of the Finch family under its roof and, with the sole exception of one person, saw all the its members at a young age: violent deaths, often inexplicable, which surrounded the family with a negative aura to the point that - to quote Edith's words during the narration - they push Finch themselves to believe they are cursed and therefore accept the inevitability of their fate.

The young protagonist, however, is not so interested in the supernatural implications as in the circumstances that led each of her relatives to a premature disappearance. So here I am wearing the clothes and through his eyes exploring every corner of the house, a real monument to the tragedy along which the whole narration unfolds. A subtle and never banal story, which stages a growing sense of horror without making it take on a concrete form: it is the crude reality of the facts that we are told, the events as they occurred without mystification whatsoever. There are no monsters under the bed or zombies on the corner of the corridor waiting for us, there is no rhetoric or morals, just a truth that we can not help but accept. And being the helpless witnesses of a destiny that will not spare us is more terrifying than any creature we could face armed with a gun.

Because, useless to ignore the elephant in the room, there is death waiting for Edith: we don't know when, we don't know how, but if there is a certainty it is that it won't be because of old age. Why then embark on this journey, unearthing a past that would be better forgotten? Why recall people who a supposed curse wanted disappeared too early, or violently? The impression left to me by What Remains of Edith Finch is that there is no mystery to solve, nor the will to discover something more about the tragedy that accompanies this family: to move Edith, and therefore in a certain sense to move the player, it is the will to discover the skeletons in the closet - the search for a ransom in the face of an announced death, in the pages of a diary that is our only travel companion.

The most striking aspect of What Remains of Edith Finch is the normality, although sometimes a little over the top, of the environment around us. As soon as I set foot in the house I found myself in front of a worldly good or bad furniture, where nothing really seemed out of place and, indeed, left the idea of never having been abandoned. All the rooms had been sealed but even that detail could not be out of tune in the context ... until I found the first secret passage and the small altar dedicated to the first of whose destiny I would discover. Molly, a girl who died nearly seventy years before the age of ten. The reason why the rooms were inaccessible began to make sense, however it was precisely reliving the story of Molly that the skill of Giant Sparrow emerged.

As expected from a walking simulator, What Remains of Edith FInch is a game in which exploration takes center stage and avoids intruding as much as possible into the narrative (narration in English and whose texts on the screen, specifically, are at in turn in English in the PlayStation version 4). The controls are reduced to the bone, with the only need for analog sticks and a button to interact with the environment given the extreme intuitiveness of the actions. The reality, however, is that What Remains of Edith Finch takes a step forward compared to the classic, and sometimes too trivial, concept of exploration: the game makes environmental immersion its strong point, managing to incorporate for each or almost eleven Finch family members whose past discover a different style and manage it perfectly. The moment Edith finds the crucial memory, here the perspective shifts to that of the person in question, changing not only in terms of atmosphere but also of gameplay.

Returning to the example of little Molly, I found myself involved in a dreamlike situation, an experience that I have hardly found in other video games and that has taken on, as it continued, stretches to the edge of the dark, not to say totally disturbing. Something that eventually left me with the suspicion that the Finch family story was indeed a horror story. I was wrong, or at least it was not the horror that I meant, made of evil and unfortunate entities involved in their thirst for revenge as in the most classic horror films of recent years.

As already mentioned, the game is very simple from the point of view of mechanics and interaction: there are no choices to make, some actions are carried out automatically, very few objects to be examined that are not directly connected to the objective in progress and, in the Overall, there are no puzzles that require commitment beyond observation. After all, the story is very guided and adding too many elements would have distracted from a fascinating narrative, even in its tragedy. A rendezvous with death in retracing a genealogical tree through multifaceted uses of the first person: I don't want to spoil it, because the surprise of the discovery is another of those aspects that struck me about What Remains of Edith Finch. None of these interludes are complex but it is wonderful to see how, although the focus is death, each one is incredibly full of life, characterized by a creativity that one would not expect in narrating their last moments.

It is a death told at the tip of your fingers, cruel without however falling into the grotesque or the bloody, and in discovering (or rather accepting) the truth, we witness a change in Edith herself, a different perspective which, compared to the beginning of the game, permeates her words of greater emotion towards people he has never known. A similar change of tones can be perceived in the house itself, which passes from gloomy and disturbing atmospheres to others, towards the end, almost fairytale. And it is precisely in its lyrical quality that the greatness of the game rests: in putting the pieces of a story that dates back to three generations before, Edith builds a narrative of her own, but leaves us the players to find the ultimate meaning. His goals, because he wanted to embark on this journey into memory, become clear at the end of the game and yet the final judgment is left entirely in our hands.


What Remains of Edith Finch is a macabre game, at times heartbreaking for what is to be defined as a huge injustice, but undeniably powerful: without the presumption of judging or teaching something, the Giant Sparrow team explores the good and the bad that every story has in itself, especially underlines how sometimes superstition is the worst of anchors, ready to drag us to the bottom and force us there.

MODUS OPERANDI
I played What Remains of Edith Finch on PS4 thanks to a game download code obtained from Sony. It took about two hours to complete it. The game is already available for PC too.