The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 8: What Remains of Edith Finch

Eleima wrote:
Spoiler:

Did anyone notice that if you look down, you can clearly see her belly bump?

Yes!

Spoiler:

I played the game with my oldest daughter (19) watching along. The very first moment that I got control of the character, I looked down and noticed boobs and belly. I didn’t say anything about either, though, because I’ve been so PC-trained not to say anything.

There’s a moment when crawling from one room to another where she says something like “these passages were easier to move through when we were younger, and with smaller bellies.” I didn’t clue into that line until later.

It was when I walked out onto the beach (after the train?) where she said something like “I’m writing this diary for you” where I finally put it all together, and said something out loud. Really good set of moments.

Sorry about being somewhat vague; writing from phone, and don’t have all the details fully clear from when I played a few weeks ago.

Nope, not vague at all, it sounds right on the money.

merphle wrote:
Eleima wrote:
Spoiler:

Did anyone notice that if you look down, you can clearly see her belly bump?

Yes!

Spoiler:

I played the game with my oldest daughter (19) watching along. The very first moment that I got control of the character, I looked down and noticed boobs and belly. I didn’t say anything about either, though, because I’ve been so PC-trained not to say anything.

There’s a moment when crawling from one room to another where she says something like “these passages were easier to move through when we were younger, and with smaller bellies.” I didn’t clue into that line until later.

It was when I walked out onto the beach (after the train?) where she said something like “I’m writing this diary for you” where I finally put it all together, and said something out loud. Really good set of moments.

Sorry about being somewhat vague; writing from phone, and don’t have all the details fully clear from when I played a few weeks ago.

Spoiler:

I played this a while ago so I don't remember when I first looked down, but I clued in when climbing the tree and walking along the branches to get back into the house. Don't recall what she said but it was a "wait, am I pregnant?" moment. It might have been after that that I thought to check for a baby bump.

I'm really enjoying hearing the varied perspectives! Sometimes a piece of media grabs you and sometimes it passes you by. We've already packed up the PS4 for the move but maybe I'll run through this again when we're settled.

Eleima wrote:

Thanks for elaborating, Mario! That’s so fascinating to me, because I actually get pulled out of an experience if I’m not in first person perspective.

No problem. And what can I say? I'm just weird .

Eleima wrote:

Speaking of this game’s character:

Spoiler:

Did anyone notice that if you look down, you can clearly see her belly bump?

I did pretty early on, but it didn't really click until later in the game. That's how smart I am...

Eleima wrote:

Speaking of this game’s character:

Spoiler:

Did anyone notice that if you look down, you can clearly see her belly bump?

Spoiler:

I remember looking down as one of the first things I did and thinking, "Wow, they made the min character with a large belly, nice of them to include people of all shapes and sizes in the game, and not just the typical 'model' physique

Then later in the game I understood...

I had the exact same experience as merphle, with the exception that

Spoiler:

I mis-read the bellly-bump as a crummy character model! Honestly, the novelty of seeing a body when you looked down stopped me from thinking too hard about it.

I "enjoyed" the game. I use scare quotes there because it's so drenched in melancholy that enjoyment doesn't feel like the right word. Appreciated?

I certainly appreciated the artistry of it, the way that just everything feeds into that melancholic feeling, the art design, the architecture, the weather, the voicework, it's a really consistent package.

Jonman wrote:

I had the exact same experience as merphle, with the exception that

Spoiler:

I mis-read the bellly-bump as a crummy character model! Honestly, the novelty of seeing a body when you looked down stopped me from thinking too hard about it.

I "enjoyed" the game. I use scare quotes there because it's so drenched in melancholy that enjoyment doesn't feel like the right word. Appreciated?

I certainly appreciated the artistry of it, the way that just everything feeds into that melancholic feeling, the art design, the architecture, the weather, the voicework, it's a really consistent package.

I’m 100% in agreement with your first paragraph. I had the exact same thought.

Honest question: are you all of you folks who misread that, are you all guys? Because I had zero doubt on that, from the getgo.

Eleima wrote:

Honest question: are you all of you folks who misread that, are you all guys? Because I had zero doubt on that, from the getgo. :)

Guilty. I generally prefer playing as female characters in games, but since most first-person games are just a disembodied camera (can’t see anything when you look down, except maybe a shadow on the ground), I was so pleased that I didn’t think much beyond that. Until later, as described.

merphle wrote:
Eleima wrote:

Honest question: are you all of you folks who misread that, are you all guys? Because I had zero doubt on that, from the getgo. :)

Guilty. I generally prefer playing as female characters in games, but since most first-person games are just a disembodied camera (can’t see anything when you look down, except maybe a shadow on the ground), I was so pleased that I didn’t think much beyond that. Until later, as described.

Same, I honestly expected to see nothing when I looked, so when I did, and there was something I was surprised and my mind made an incorrect assumption

Quite possibly. I'll also entirely confess to bring really bad at seeing plot developments coming. I never see a twist coming in movies either.

Eleima wrote:

Honest question: are you all of you folks who misread that, are you all guys? Because I had zero doubt on that, from the getgo. :)

Spoiler:

I glanced down, but I just didn't interpret what I was seeing as a belly bump :P

Jonman wrote:

Quite possibly. I'll also entirely confess to bring really bad at seeing plot developments coming. I never see a twist coming in movies either.

Same here!

Might want to spoiler that, Tangle.

Redherring wrote:

I started this a couple of nights ago, played maybe half of it. It’s OK so far. It’s engaging enough to want to see what happens next, but the story isn’t really connecting to or resonating with anything in my experience yet - will see how I feel by the end.

Finished up and have been thinking about for a few days. So I guess it left an impression. Loved the presentation, not really that excited about the story and themes. The only thing I wanted more of was

Spoiler:

Edie’s story that got cut off part way through - it didn’t end in Edie’s death, so what happened?

Redherring wrote:

Finished up and have been thinking about for a few days. So I guess it left an impression. Loved the presentation, not really that excited about the story and themes. The only thing I wanted more of was

Spoiler:

Edie’s story that got cut off part way through - it didn’t end in Edie’s death, so what happened?

Well...

Spoiler:

A common theory is that she overdosed on her meds because she refused to leave the house for a home, especially with all the other remaining living Finch’s (Dawn and Edith) gone.
Some say it was old age, as it’s left open to interpretation.

I was thinking of

Spoiler:

the low tide which allowed Edie to walk out to the old house, but the story was cut off before the end.

Ohhhhhhh.... hum. I’m not sure, actually. I’ll have to look that one up!

Finished! And I have duly run amok revealing the spoilers tags.

Fantastic game. It feels like a real step forward in this ‘explore and reveal’ type of game; much as Tacoma did. The stories are delivered in such an engaging way much better, for me, than reading notes or playing recordings and the environment feels more focused and purpose built. With games like Gone Home if you’d told me it was a level from a different game that had been repurposed, I’d have believed you.

Spoiler:

The stories got better and less ‘what you expect from that kind of story’ as they went along. So creative and charming while still being melancholic. My stand out sequences were the baby in the bath which got jollier and jollier at the same time as it got sadder and sadder. The flick book, which Eleima tells me ties into Unfinished Swan, (which I have on PS4 and now must finish) and the fish factor sequence which I though was genius in terms of capturing the mental state of day dreaming whilst doing a task on auto pilot.

Played through this in one sitting last night. I needed a bit of indulgence and it was such a pleasure to wander through an expertly crafted, self-contained little game like this! It felt like a degustation dinner where the chef brings you tidbits of their favourite creations one after the other.

Can't say I connected personally with any of the themes or characters but it was by far the most satisfying experience I've had with this type of game. The balance of interactivity and narration was just right for the mood I was in.

Glad you enjoyed it, nonetheless!!! I can completely understand that some themes would not connect with everyone, they’re hard to tackle and they might not land for everyone, completely understandable.

Also, folks, don’t forget to vote for the next game right over here!!

Eleima wrote:

Thanks for elaborating, Mario! That’s so fascinating to me, because I actually get pulled out of an experience if I’m not in first person perspective. Speaking of this game’s character:

Spoiler:

Did anyone notice that if you look down, you can clearly see her belly bump?

Almost immediately on starting the game. Was definitely one of my favorites last year and glad to see so many picking it up.

I expect to finish tomorrow. Feeling a lot of Shirley Jackson, but also a soupcon of Gashlycrumb Tinies. I mean, there's a pervasive melancholy...but in a grim way, some of it is real funny.

Edit: Done, I think the best word is just "Lovely."

I can confirm that Unfinished Swan does have a connection to this game.

Spoiler:

The character Milton

Knowing that turned Unfinished Swan from a cute exercise in game design, that I couldn’t get invested in, into an ongoing adventure with a fully realised back story and a character I care about.

Thoughts...

Spoiler:

This was the first game in a long time that I was able to sit down and play from start to finish in one sitting. That really helped keep the narrative together for me. This is also the first time I typed up my thoughts on a game. I tried to discuss it with my wife, but she wasn't super into it.

Really glad I played it. My wife caught parts of it and called it, "The saddest family tree ever". Went into this game very blind, knew nothing about it other than it was really popular at PAX South the year it came out. It showed up free on PS Plus and I had a free day so I fired it up.

Background: I don't have kids and basically have no direct experience with death in my family. My wife (sadly) has a lot more.

Molly - As soon as she ate the holly berries, I knew she was dead. Didn't realize it was going to become a theme. Wish I could have had more time flying around as an owl, that mechanical was the most fun. The sea monster / tentacle controls felt awkward. The enthusiasm in her storytelling voice really contrasted with the death I saw coming. Also, I didn't get the bit at the end where she tasted delicious, and just chalked it up to poison induced paranoia / hallucinations. I figured they would just kept the larger and larger creatures going and then end with her being sleepy. But, as I figured out later, this isn't exactly a *happy* game.

MIlton - OMG there were so many missing posters around this house. I can understand a decent amount for a grief stricken mother, but this was a bit absurd / over the top for me. I'm guessing they put in extra as the designers figured most people would see all of them.

Gregory - Wow. This one really bothered me. I don't have kids, but I'd long since figured out the theme for each scene was how everyone dies. This was probably the closest in the whole game that I came to just putting down the controller and walking away. No one wants to be part of a baby's death. It was pretty obvious how it was going to happen once the scene started in the bathtub. I think that makes worse as I'd rather have it be a surprise or something more accidental. Parental neglect....wow. What a terrible emotional burden. The designers clearly made a very deliberate choice here, but it felt too far to me. A baby's death is hard enough to depict, but making it the parent's fault felt malicious and unnecessary to the overall story. This wasn't a curse on Gregory, it was a double curse on Sam / Kay.

Lewis - great mini game, as lots of other people have said. I spent the whole game worried he was going to chop his hand off. The mini game was distracting enough that I'd forgotten the conclusion of everyone's story was a bit worse... Definitely one of those stories where I kept looking for some alternative choice where I could "save" the character and keep him from dying. I ran around the fish factory in vain hoping there was some open door to escape.

Edie - I really wish we'd gotten to know more about her / finish her story. I hated the Dawn (mother) character for interrupting the story and tearing the book. I'm the grandson of a book binder so it feels wrong to even write in books. Bringing your house over from Norway to drop it off in the US felt very "comic book-y". Didn't even realize until just now that it was the Pac NW so it *really* doesn't make sense to bring it around through the Panama Canal.

Boarding up doors / adding peepholes - I can see why it was useful from a narrative perspective, but the pragmatist in me just couldn't do that. Haven't been around many people that have that walling off personality, so I found it hard to relate / understand. So it seemed more like a convenience for the video game instead of a realistic personality trait.

Really liked the crawling around and exploring rooms aesthetic of the game. It was a great framework for the story narrative. Haven't played many games like this, but I really liked the choices on this one. Just enough control to keep it from feeling like you're just watching a movie. But still a bit too much on rails for stories where you don't want to kill the characters.

Edith Finch - It was big plot twist to me that Edith was also dead and you end up starting/finishing the game as her son. Guess it kinda makes sense given the title of the game.... Took the in-game hint, I think the first one was on the roof, to figure out she was pregnant. Didn't get it from looking at her directly. Just assumed it was either a non-traditional video game body type or just a mistake from the developers. After seeing the main character model from Firewatch I mostly assumed the latter.
Also, why is she pictured in the family tree with a cell phone? There was nothing in the story to back up that character trait. Or did I miss it? It seemed like a mismatch or a storytelling error.

Overall thoughts
I understand that death is a part of life and there's a big taboo (in America at least) about talking about it. I've been un-successfully trying to bring up the question about end of life plans for my aging parents for a couple months now. Feels really awkward. So this whole game fell into that same awkward category for me. It definitely makes you feel something, so that's probably the strongest praise I can give for the game. The game does a good job showing how this family handles death, but its a very encapsulated experience. I wish it gave me more of a framework for dealing with death in my own life. Probably not what the designers were going for, and that's fine.

I really hope I can play more games like this in the future, just not back-to-back. I'll need a nice long break before coming back to this type of game. Currently enjoying a rerun of Half Life 2 for example.

Okay, I've said plenty and I'll just start rambling if I keep going. Thanks for reading through the giant wall of text.

I'm here because I just finished the game, I think it's excellent, and I need a support group.

Spoiler:

I'm 100% on Team Hyper-Empathy and had to walk away from the game for a moment when I discovered Molly's death shrine---it was the first, and a shock. And again when I noticed the difference in the growth charts on Sam & Calvin's door. I'm a twin who spent my whole life dreading the loss of my sibling, and now I have my own twins I worry about what to do with that tragedy if only one of them survives (I have a lot of anxiety)---their mother in her grief dividing the room with a rope after the death was a very poignant knife to the heart.

And I took a long Nope walk around Nope Lake when it came to Gregory. Pushed on. The twist ending made me want to crawl into my kids' bed and sniffle quietly while holding them. Hello, said that ending, it's me, your last and final fear of dying and leaving your kids behind before they're grown.

The deaths of the adults still bothered me, but watching them pass one by one is a sadness I already know, not a fear.

I'm gonna go play something dumb like Donut Country and listen to many songs about butts. Thank you.

Thanks to the both of you for checking in with your thoughts, it’s really appreciated. And 3or4monsters, your Twitter thread was also really great. I was actually checking in here to pick up the link and post it as you mentioned looking for a “support group” for this game. We’ve got you.
I may be a twin but I definitely relate 100% with the whole crawl-in-bed-and-hug impulse.
In the end, yeah, some things don’t make sense and are completely impractical (right there with you on the floating house from Norway and the boarding up, Markov), but I kinda just rolled with it. It’s more of an experience than factual retelling, I guess.

I’m generally a stickler for things making sense within a games world. WREF’s story definitely falls into the ‘magical realism’ style of story telling which, to me, is a kind of fable where the characters and events are exaggerated or completely imaginary. Viewing the game like that I could accept all oddnesses and just take the stories within the story as tall tales.

Higgledy wrote:

I’m generally a stickler for things making sense within a games world. WREF’s story definitely falls into the ‘magical realism’ style of story telling which, to me, is a kind of fable where the characters and events are exaggerated or completely imaginary. Viewing the game like that I could accept all oddnesses and just take the stories within the story as tall tales.

Spoiler:

Agreed. Though with stories like this, I am inclined to see the magical realism of the story as events seen through eyes of someone suffering mental illness contorted/developed by grief. There is just so much of it to be had in this story, and it becomes believable that a disconnect from reality might be the fallout from so much loss.

Hiding it because I can't determine what is/is not spoiler anymore, better safe than sorry.

That’s a good read of the situation and offers an explanation for where the fantastical elements and distortions are coming from.