What Remains of Edith Finch is masterful from an artistic perspective and merely solid from a technical one. This is one of those releases that deliberately restricts your wandering range for the best of reasons: to justify going all out in its world design. Not an inch of this game feels underdeveloped or out of place.
The Finch house is something out of Frank Lloyd Wrightís worst nightmare. The way it violates the skyline in its jaw-dropping introductory vista is something to behold; it curls around itself and reaches for the heavens, as if itís caught in the throes of a particularly nasty spasm. Every room is absolutely crammed solid with items that help give you an idea of the departed. So much to the point where A&E would likely have sent the Hoarders team in for a special, would they not have feared for their lives in doing so. While this design decision comes across as overkill to the normal eye at times, you have to reorient your perspective and remember: this is not a normal family, and everything is exactly as it is for a reason. The entire house is a living monument to the cruelest fate has to offer, but itís also twin middle fingers shot straight through the eyes of Fortune herself. Thereís some occasional slowdown to the exploration at points, but when the game has something to say (which is often), it makes sure there are no distractions keeping you out of the moment.
Things remain relatively grounded in reality while youíre exploring the house as young Edith, but the same cannot be said of the stories you come across over the course of exploring. That, Iím afraid, is all Iím willing to say on that subject.
When you read about games of this type, your first instinct is to expect every single fiber of its being to be solely dedicated to making you weep uncontrollably. This almost always translates into a sound design reliant primarily on heavy strings, piano, and an extremely dramatic series of voice performances. And while What Remains of Edith Finch certainly makes use of this toolset, it earns that right by keeping itself in check and showing an impressive amount of restraint and subtlety. This is perhaps best exemplified by the soundtrack, which comes to us from Jeff Russo of the band Tonic. Itís content to stay out of the way most of the time and only appears when it can reinforce a theme established by the story and interactive elements. And when it does, it understates itself to lend more gravitas to the on-screen action.
As with the visuals, the sound design has some pretty incredible surprises in store, and again, I will not get into them. These surprises make up too much of What Remains of Edith Finch to render further discussion even the most fleeting of options.