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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

A House Full of Imagination and Stubbornness - Indy Plays What Remains of Edith Finch

TRIGGER WARNING: CHILD DEATH, DEATH, MENTAL ILLNESS


I don't know what I expected when I began What Remains of Edith Finch but it wasn't what I got. This is by no means a criticism, I'm just saying it was a pretty wild journey.


What Remains is a walking simulator. You play as Edith Finch returning to her family home in the hope of finding some answers to the many questions she has about her family. The answers you get are highly fanciful and at times downright worrying. Having fled the house with her mother after the death of her brothers Edith hasn't been home in seven long years.


You explore the house as best you can, bedroom doors have been sealed shut by Edith's mother in an attempt to contain the family curse. This seems excessive, but when the deaths of the family are investigated it doesn't seem so strange. From the sublime to the ridiculous, little Molly apparently died to a tentacled sea monster, Lewis stuck his head inside a machine designed to cut the heads off fish and Calvin managed to propel himself into the sea by trying to swing over the top of the branch that held the swing. It smacks slightly of the Addams family, but with less black.


There is one death in particular that is horrifyingly beautiful. The baby, Gregory, drowned in the bathtub while his distracted mother argued with her ex husband. The way this was shown though was fanciful and beautiful and to be honest, it's only while I write those words that I realise just how messed up the situation was. You see the event from Gregory's perspective.


The baby plays happily with his frog, and the whole thing turns into a beautifully choreographed ballet set to Swan Lake. Rubber ducks and plastic dolls and a large whale toy dance in the water to delighted giggles. The mother pulls the plug out but the whale fills the plug and the water turns back on. The baby turns into his frog toy, swimming in the ocean that has been created, playing with all of his toy friends.


It's only when you return to the present and the dedication set up in Gregory's crib that you appreciate what happened.


The deaths in this game aren't really treated with the same reverence you may find elsewhere. Edith seems to be more bemused by the whole situation and with the outlandish descriptions of the deaths it is easy to join her in this confused acceptance. Edith never freaks out or acknowledges just how odd this whole situation is. The only acknowledgement you can find is when she says:


"I think we have just been too used to being surrounded by death, after all who builds a cemetary before they build their house?"


Even then, this is more of a passing comment. It's an interesting perspective to be sure. Death is everywhere, especially since we're all currently living in a pandemic but death happens all the time, in myriads of ways. Perhaps being so afraid of it is a waste of energy. There's no way to predict when death will come for you, so perhaps we should stop fixating on it? Tomorrow you could be eaten by a tentacle monster, or set upon in your own house by horror movie fans. You just never know.


Edith wanted her family history, so she could pass it down to her child. An understanding of where they came from. A bizarre history to be sure, but one worth telling. What Remains was beautiful and confusing and I love it for that. A little bit like life, really.

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