After making a big splash with its PC and PS4 debuts, Giant Sparrow’s incredible What Remains of Edith Finch has just made its way to the Xbox One platform. Now, those who pledge allegiance to Microsoft can experience the masterful storytelling and remarkably creative gameplay that this gem has to offer.
For those who’ve yet to hear about it before, What Remains of Edith Finch is a masterclass effort that comes to us from the ‘interactive narrative’ or ‘walking simulator’ genre. Unlike some of its peers, though, it is not boring, nor does it lack creativity. Instead, what those who play through this thing will find is that it’s actually overflowing with uniqueness.
As the lone remaining member of the Finch clan, players get to explore the family’s rich history through its oversized, absurdly crafted and overwhelmingly different homestead, which sits abandoned in its well forested location. The idea is that as you explore the house you’ll come across different rooms that belonged to now deceased members of the clan, which, itself, originated in Norway and moved Stateside at the turn of the last century.
Upon first entering this quirky homestead, you’ll see deserted dirty dishes, piled up crap and lots of dusty old possessions. Then, as you move further inward you’ll find yourself in front of several closed doors, all of which are painted different colours and come bearing the names (and life dates) of different folks, dating back a century or so. Looking through their peepholes gives you an idea of what that person was like, but it’s not until you step inside of each room, by making your way through hidden pathways, that you really get to know them.
As you explore each room, you’ll find significant items that cause Edith to comment about the dearly departed. Each room has one special piece, though — usually a letter or something like it — that causes things to change. It’s when you select and begin to read or look at these pieces that you’re transported to another time, where you then enter the shoes of that specific person. What’s most unique about this mechanic is that not only do you get to step into the shoes of one of Edith’s relatives, but you always do so just before their time of death.
The Finch clan is cursed, you see, and has had nothing but bad luck since before it came to America. This means that almost all of its members have died young and under strange circumstances.
Due to the above, What Remains of Edith Finch is far from your traditional walking simulator. Hell, it’s almost a disservice to call the game such a name. Not only is it unique, but it’s full of variety thanks to its strange premise.
Although you begin by walking up to the house, and get to explore it over the course of the game, you’ll also find yourself doing things like swinging, swimming, and controlling a giant sea monster that feasts on human flesh. The best part, though, is when things shift to a pen and ink-inspired look as you enter the pages of a Tales from the Crypt-like comic book.
On the Xbox One, this game exists as a 3.5 gigabyte download, which is about as big as it was on PS4 though this version unfortunately isn’t up to that same level. Although it looks great and plays pretty well, there’s more in the way of frame rate slowdown and visual pop-in than I remember there being on Sony’s console. Then again, I played the game on a PS4 Pro, which may have helped.
I found things to be most problematic whenever I would press start and load a different memory whilst in the middle of another. This led to some lengthy load times and a bit of buggy performance. Nothing major, though, so please do not avoid this thing because of these noted issues. For the most part, the game runs pretty well on Xbox One, and it’s more than playable. There are just a few nagging performance quirks that hold it back from being up to the same level as its peer(s).
At the end of the day, Xbox One owners are lucky that Giant Sparrow chose to bring what What Remains of Edith Finch to this console, because it’s a masterpiece of a game that stands out for many different reasons. So, if you’ve yet to play it, you definitely owe yourself the pleasure.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.