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What Remains Of Edith Finch | Glixel

April 28, 2017

…walking simulators (the best ones anyway) are brilliant catalogues of loss, involving the investigation of absence, of missing things and missing people – as often signalled in the titles themselves: Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter. They represent storytelling through exploration and reconstruction, and What Remains Of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow might be the best one yet.

I wrote about What Remains Of Edith Finch for Glixel. I first played a snippet of the game at E3 in – I think – 2015, a surreal and contextless sequence of transformation, from a young girl into a cat, then a bird, and finally a shark. It had a playful warmth and sense of storytelling from the elusively allusive title on down that I was entirely hooked by, and playing more of the game only deepened my excitement (I have a full copy now, and intend to spend the long May Day weekend playing through).

What I didn’t get to mention in this piece was how the protagonist’s journey to a childhood home dealt with memory and identity in a way that felt wonderfully accurate and familiar. It’s a rich and suggestive treatment, touching on how place informs and contains memory, and the dreamlike sensation of returning to once-routine spaces. It reminded me of one night as our university days drew to a close, my friends and I climbing through the window of our (empty) first year halls, so we could sit within the walls that contained our first remembrance of each other. And it reminded me of a journey to my own childhood home, and the thing I wrote about it, a couple of years ago.

Then we walked past the Oval to my brother’s first school, and then down Clapham Road – this bit was more familiar, my daily traipse home from nursery – to Liberty Street, the first place I can remember living. The things I remember in this flat include an impossible litter of puppies, throwing all of my toys out of the window even though I knew it was wrong, and – still me, still thinking about memory – the first thought I had about a thought forgotten, a very clear memory of getting out of a car and approaching my door with the intention of doing something inside, only to have the buzz of purpose slip unrecoverably from my mind.

 

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