I Cannot Describe to You How Incredibly Strange What Remains of Edith Finch Is

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I Cannot Describe to You How Incredibly Strange What Remains of Edith Finch Is

Even Giant Sparrow has a hard time describing exactly what their second game is.

Today our game is available on PS4! We’ve spent 4 years working on it but I still have trouble describing it.

The short version is easy. What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of playable short stories, each following a different member of the Finch family at the moment of their death.

The long version is… complicated.

Originally, we were trying to make a game about awe, about what it feels like to see something that’s simultaneously astonishing and overwhelming. Like being at the bottom of the ocean or in the middle of a dark forest.

What Remains of Edith Finch

But awe is tricky. It’s personal. Seeing a gorgeous sunset in person might fill you with awe but a picture of a sunset just feels like a cheesy greeting card.

So instead of a game about awe we made a game about the experience of awe. Rather than trying to evoke awe directly, we’ve made a collection of stories about people being overwhelmed and given players a chance to see the world through their eyes.

Since it’s easier to evoke a sense of awe when it’s something you’ve never seen before, we’ve tried hard to make each story unique. For characters that meant adding lots of little details (often pulled from our own personal lives) to help them feel like real human beings. For game mechanics we focused on controls that were unlike anything we ourselves had ever seen before (but that were also easy to pick up, which was hard).

What Remains of Edith Finch

All of which is to say, we spent 4 years with everyone on the team (sometimes as many as 15 people), cramming in bits of themselves and at the same time trying to make this all feel somewhat cohesive. It helps that families and houses are inherently chaotic so the work of many hands actually added a believable sense of life and the passage of time.

Somehow the game evolved into an exploration of death, family, stories, childhood, history, and many other elements I’m only dimly aware of. But hearing players talk about their experience after they finish the game it sounds like they played the thing we were trying to make. I don’t understand how it all works, but it does.

It’s eerily similar to what happened on our previous game, The Unfinished Swan.

When you’re making something, assuming it’s going well, there’s a point where you can feel things starting to come together. Often that comes after a long phase when it seemed like none of this was ever going to work so the joy of seeing it gel is mixed with a lot of relief that it’s working at all. After the initial rush dies down then the whole team spend months (or years!) fixing and polishing it, giving it to playtesters to try, then polishing it some more based on their feedback.

Then something weird happens. You look up and realize that every corner of the world is covered in tiny, wonderful details.

Sometimes it’s as subtle as the angle a rocking chair is turned so that it subconsciously guides players to see a photograph they otherwise would have missed, and sometimes it’s as obvious as a room-filling mural that inspires just the right tone of confusion and wonder.

What Remains of Edith Finch

When I look at our game now I’m not just immensely proud of it, I’m intimidated by it.

I see how much energy and discussion and thought went into this world and I think, “Man, we are so incredibly lucky this came together so well. I’ll never be able to make something like this again.”

Now that it’s over, I can’t pretend to understand our game any more than I could hope to fully understand the people who made it. All I know is that I sincerely appreciate how much everyone gave to make this game what it is. Whatever that is.

I hope it’s an experience you’ll never forget and one you’ll have as much trouble describing as I do.

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1 Author Reply

  • I’ve been looking forward to Giant Sparrow’s next work since playing The Unfinished Swan, and after playing What Remains of Edith Finch I can honestly say that I’m so happy that games like this exist.

    Giant Sparrow has earned a spot on my list of most influential and meaningful developers for me personally, and I truly believe that your games move the industry forward.

    You’ve joined the likes of Thatgamecompany in challenging audiences thematically as well as inspiring developers to think more about how interactive media design can propel concepts to newly evocative heights.

    And, Ian Dallas, you are a creative visionary and one of my heroes.

    Thank you so much for creating such beautiful works of art.

    -Stephen Marro (Midgetguy)

  • Thought It’s a depressing story, but still wonderful! I like this kind story driven games, keep it coming. Game only has one hour or so play, so I definitely will play again, no platinum trophy, a little disappointed.

  • Looks nice, but too expensive too short.

    • Man, having a price/time money value for games would have been rough for you in the 80s when game where 3hrs and priced at 50 bucks or more.

      Thankfully I’ll stick to buying games that look good and not sweating the price or gamelength.

  • I just need to know if this is a game with gameplay mechanics or a story walking sim?

    Not being negative, just curious.

    • Good question. It’s a bit hard to tell just from screenshots, but there are many, many gameplay mechanics in this game.
      The parts in which you explore the house as Edith are primarily about walking around and looking at things. But inside each bedroom you’ll find a short story about how that family member died, which plays out as its own entirely different game with its own unique gameplay.

  • I’ve honestly been loving this game – picked it up on a whim/nagging interest after watching the trailer and boy am I gla dI did. Stunning artwork, too!

  • I don’t know how well this game will do, since a lot of gamers feel they have been burned by other Walking Sims that got rave reviews by critics and weren’t really that good. I just have to say that you really created a special game here and I hope word of mouth makes this game successful because it deserves to be. I will surely do my part.

  • I just finished my first playthrough​, and can easily say this is one of my favorite things ever. I was constantly amazed at how inspired, imaginitive, and beautiful this was. I hope you keep up the great work!

  • I bought it after seeing the good reviews and ign 17 minutes first gameplay, I just wish next time the review is out a couple of days before the psplus discount is gone.

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