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Video Game / What Remains of Edith Finch

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"A lot of this isn't going to make sense to you and I'm sorry about that."

What Remains of Edith Finch is an Environmental Narrative Game developed by Giant Sparrow. It was released on April 25, 2017, and follows Edith Finch; the last living member of her family, returning to her ancestral home in an attempt to learn more about her extended family, whose members were prone to unusual deaths, and whose rooms in the house have been more or less left in the condition they were in at the time they passed away.

The game was criticially praised and was subsequently nominated for several awards, winning the BAFTA award for Best Game and the Game Award for Best Narrative


This game provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Edie, Sam and Dawn all outlived the majority of their children, and several of the childrens' deaths were due to direct action or neglect by their parents.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Lewis. Depending on a sequence of choices in his level, his dream kingdom can have him happily marrying a handsome queen or a beautiful prince.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • The circumstances of Molly's, Barbara's, and Milton's deaths are left just vague enough for players to draw their own interpretations.
    • Whether Lewis intended to kill himself is also ambiguous, as his declining awareness of reality and trance-like state in the final part of the flashback imply that he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: A large part of the game. Each flashback has you play, still from a first-person perspective, a different member of the Finch family.
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  • Animal Motifs: With a family name like "Finch", of course there are knick-knacks and the like with birds on them in and around the house. Edith's journal also has birds sketched around the family tree.
  • Art Shift:
    • Barbara's story is in the style of a cel-shaded comicbook. Justified, as Edith is reading a comic based on her death.
    • Edith's portrait for Milton is based off his self portrait from his flipbook. As such, it's more cartoony looking compared to the realistic drawings for the rest of the Finches.
    • Lewis' fantasy world looks like an old-style fantasy video game. As the story progresses, it gets more and more realistic, switching from top-down view to isometric, then full 3D by the end, but still keeping its simplified look.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Milton may have done this, or he may have just run away from home.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The house looks like something Willy Wonka would have built for Tom Sawyer; it is loaded with rickety walkways, rope ladders, tree houses and secret passageways. It is also incredibly dangerous, and it is astounding that none of the Finches fell to their deaths from its various unguarded ledges.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Similar to Gone Home. Edith's foreboding narration upon reaching the house, the topic of a family death curse, the darkened foyer and mysteriously ruined kitchen, and the ominous locked basement can give the impression of a horror game; it's actually an Environmental Narrative Game with a heavy focus on emotional storytelling.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: One interpretation of the curse, assuming it's real, is that it kills members of the Finch family by giving them what they want in one twisted way or another. For some the connection is less obvious than others, but it still holds through in many cases:
    • Odin wanted to bring his family to America in an effort to escape the family curse, so his family did indeed make it to America, but he drowned before setting foot on land again.
    • Molly was ravenously hungry, so the curse served her up a savage feast... and then made her the final course.
    • Calvin wanted to feel like he was flying, so the curse made the wind pick him up and throw him over a cliff.
    • Barbara wanted to recapture her famous scream, so the curse provided her with... inspiration.
    • Walter managed to survive for thirty years by making sure to want nothing at all. Then he decided that that was no way to live and that he was willing to die if it meant going outside again... and sure enough, the curse struck him down the moment he set foot outdoors.
    • Gus wanted to ruin his father's wedding, so the curse sent a storm that did just that, and which killed Gus in the bargain.
    • Sam wanted to spend time doing something with his daughter. He got to do just that with Dawn, right up until the deer they were hunting threw him to his death. The curse even immortalized the moment with a photo.
    • Gregory, a baby, wanted to play with his bath toys. His dying dream featured the toys coming to life and swimming to the "other side" with him, so he could play with them forever.
    • Lewis wanted something brighter and more interesting than his humdrum life, so the curse provided him with such a rich fantasy life that he eventually died either so he would never have to leave it or because he completely forgot about his real life.
    • Milton wanted to get away from the curse and become a famous painter. It's implied that he's the one who successfully broke the curse, but all too late; His mother and siblings still died in painful ways. His art is unseen by almost everyone real and his obsession with perfection angers his fictional subjects to abandon him. And he's forced to watch his son spread chaos and tear down the entire world of art he painted.
    • Edie's wish (as speculated) could be that she wanted to live forever with her family. In a twist, the curse made it so that she'd live all right, but also at the cost she would outlive her family. Still, it did not bother her, so long as she had living relatives she could count on for emotional support. And then, Dawn tells Edie she's essentially leaving her behind, making her long life meaningless without her only living family beside her. Thus, she drinks up the wine with her medication.
    • Dawn wanted to escape the melodrama of the family she had been born into, so the curse turned her into a rootless wanderer for years before killing her in a painfully mundane and dreary way. note 
    • In contrast to her mother, Edith wants to reconnect to her family. In the end she dies in childbirth, both continuing the family tradition of dying young and ensuring that the family will go on for at least one more generation.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Finches are a varied lot, but they all seem to be prone to artistic temperaments, vivid and slightly morbid imaginations, and an acceptance of their own mortality that borders uncomfortably on relishing it. Their relationships to each other have often been fraught as a result.
  • * Bittersweet Ending: Edith dies giving birth to her son, her last narration stating that if he ever reads her journal, it means she never got to know him. He's returned to the family home, and has a cast on his arm, suggesting that he might perpetuate the family curse. However, the Finches are still standing, still take pride in their family history, and now there's two branches (Christopher and Monroe), implying that the curse is wearing down.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Finch house is certainly unique - a large, stately home riddled with secret passages, which later had carnival-like additions nailed on and joined to the house with precarious staircases and rope pulleys. The additions seem to have been added on with only a passing nod to such things as "structural integrity" and "basic safety"; it's a wonder they haven't fallen off and joined the original house in the bay.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Edith notes that as a child, she was entirely on Edie's side when it came to keeping the stories of the Finch family alive, but as a late-teen she's more understanding of her mother's desire to put all the tragedy and suffering behind her. She still ends up agreeing with Edie, though, as evidenced by the game's narration being her written account of the family history.
  • Call-Forward: If you believe that something supernatural is happening, then Milton Finch's short life in the house potentially becomes the backstory of the King in The Unfinished Swan, another game by the same developers.
  • Character Death: The whole point of the game. Edith's entire family is dead by the start; the flashbacks piece together how.
    • Molly was either eaten by a monster under her bed, or simply died of food poisoning after eating gerbil food, toothpaste, and holly berries, hallucinating becoming a cat, an owl, a shark, and a sea monster.
    • Odin uprooted his house and his remaining family to escape the curse. Unfortunately, a wave sank both him and the house.
    • Calvin flew over a cliff by swinging too hard.
    • Barbara was implicitly murdered by a Serial Killer who left her ear in the music box. They never found the rest of her.
    • Walter broke through a wall into a tunnel and was hit by a train.
    • Sam was pushed off a mountain by a deer right in front of his daughter.
    • Gus was killed by debris during a storm at his father's second wedding.
    • Gregory drowned in the bath due to his mother's inattentiveness.
    • Milton never dies onscreen, since his disappearance was never solved. The one clue we get tells us that he either ran away from home or Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. It is implied that he may be the same character as The King from The Unfinished Swan, meaning he possibly outlived Edith herself.
    • Lewis decapitated himself with the chopper at the cannery after realizing that his real life could never live up to the dream kingdom he created.
    • Edie died in the night after Dawn dragged Edith away from the house. The circumstances aren't specified, but dialogue at the dinner table implies that she was mixing her pills with alcohol when she realized her last living family was abandoning her.
    • Dawn gets incredibly sick and dies holding Edith's hand at the hospital.
    • Edith dies in childbirth, accepting that she won't be there to see her son live his life.
    • Monroe from The Unfinished Swan is also presumably still alive and implied to be related to the Finch family through Milton, although neither he nor his surviving cousin are aware of each other's existence.
  • Curse: The Finch family believes themselves to have a death curse. It's left ambiguous whether they really are supernaturally cursed, or whether the belief in the curse just leads them to dangerous acts of recklessness and magical thinking.
  • Dead to Begin With: Edith's entire family by the time she revisits the house, as well as Edith herself by the time she's actually narrating.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Several characters cross it.
    • Walter is so traumatized by his sister Barbara's death that he hides in an underground bunker for 30 years, too scared of the curse to go outside.
    • Lewis crosses it when he realizes that his normal life could never measure up to his fantasy world.
    • Edie is implied to have crossed it when she realizes that Dawn is taking Edith and abandoning the house and her. It's implied that she then committed suicide by mixing her pills with alcohol.
  • Double-Meaning Title: As there are two characters named Edith Finch, the title can refer to both. Edith "Edie" Finch, Sr. is the matriarch of the Finch family, having been the first to land on America and construct the house with her husband Sven. She spent the remaining seventy years of her life there, watching her family grow and die in equal measure. What remains of her are her house and the stories of her progeny, which are the main focus of the game, as well as Edith Finch, Jr., the last of the Finch line. It isn't clear until the end what remains of her: a son, Christopher, who embodies Edith's hopes that the family can live on without curses and tragedy.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Lewis, although given his mental state at the time, whether he intended to do this or not is questionable.
    • Edie may have done this too, though her death is slightly more ambiguous. Late-game dialogue implies that she started mixing her pills with alcohol after learning that Dawn was planning to leave with Edith.
  • Egopolis: Every city in Lewis's imaginary world is named after him.
  • Flashback Within a Flashback/Nested Story: The events of the game are Edith's son Christopher reading Edith's account of going back to her old house. While she's there, Edith reads several documents (like Molly's diary, an essay about how Sam wanted to remember Calvin, a comic book about Barbara, Walter's diary, pictures from Dawn and Sam's last trip, a letter to Kay about Gregory, etc.) that bring her into flashbacks showing how each family member died. Finally, the last flashback of the game consists of Edith writing down her recollection of the last time she saw Edie back when she was eleven years old, which in itself goes into a flashback when eleven-year-old Edith starts reading Edie's story of something that happened the night when Edith was born.
  • Foil: A three-way example with the brothers Calvin, Sam and Walter. After the death of their sister Barbara, Walter became so traumatised that he lived in fear for the rest of his life to the point of hiding in a bunker beneath the house for thirty years, and then dying when he stepped back into the world unprepared. Calvin, conversely, swore to never be afraid of anything again which led to his death soon after, as he died in a daredevil stunt gone wrong. Sam, finally, joined the army and seems to have spent his life trying to be ready for anything the world could throw at him and raising his children the same way which seems to have served him better than Walter's and Calvin's ways, but which still got him killed in the end in an accident on a hunting trip meant to teach his daughter survival skills. Each of the brothers were defined by the same event, each one responded to it in a different way, and each one came to a bad end because of it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The organ music in the beginning could possibly be music at Edith's own funeral. It's also surprisingly cheery, hinting at the bittersweet nature of the ending, along with Edith facing her future Death by Childbirth with grace.
    • In Molly's diary, before you start reading it, there's a barn owl feather in it. Bet you can guess which animal she changes into.
    • In Edith Sr's room, next to the door leading to the pink bathroom, there's a picture of a baby being bathed. It's likely that this is a picture of Gregory, who drowned in that bathroom.
    • When leaving Calvin's room, Edith mentions that the secret passages were built "for smaller hands and bellies". It's a subtle hint towards Edith being pregnant at the time of the narration.
    • If you look down at any time, you can notice that Edith's stomach is visibly swollen.
    • When Lewis is entering the Throne room to be crowned King in his fantasy, it's not hard to notice before he even gets to the podium that his "throne" is a Guillotine.
  • Gay Option: A minor one. In Lewis' segment, the player gets to decide whether his imaginary quest was for a "beautiful prince" or a "handsome queen."
  • Infant Immortality: Defied. In addition to several onscreen and ambiguous child deaths, one of the flashbacks shows Gregory, a one-year-old baby, drowning in his bath when his mother steps away to argue with Sam on the phone.
  • Justified Tutorial: Lewis's "level" contains one of the few moments of conventional gameplay, and the story starts out simple to help you get the hang of it.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Several of the Finch family stories can be interpreted this way.
    • Molly's Story. Did she really turn into a cat, an owl, a shark, and a sea monster before returning to herself (and being eaten by the sea monster she had just been), or was she hallucinating while dying of food poisoning due to eating things like toothpaste and holly berries?
    • Milton's disappearance. Did he run away from home, or did he disappear into a world he painted into reality, as his story implies?
    • The story in Edie's journal. Did she actually find something at the old house, and did the light in the window really come on, or is it just the ramblings of an imaginative old woman meant to symbolize the great unknowns of life? The journal gets torn by Dawn, and the house abandoned, before we can get an answer.
    • The family curse as a whole. Does it exist, or has the Finch family just been supremely unlucky for generations (perhaps aided by a heritable tendency to being subtle Death Seekers)? As the above examples show, we never do get a definite answer.
  • Mr. Imagination: Lewis and Milton both shared this trait, Lewis dreaming up a fantasy kingdom to help him get through his mundane life and Milton devoting himself to painting. Lewis's fantasy world eventually blurs into the real one and leads him to kill himself, while Milton may or may not have vanished into his own painted world.
    • Gregory, being a year old, happily imagined his toys being alive while he was in the bathtub, even as he drowned.
  • Never Found the Body: Barbara and Milton. Barbara is at least presumed to be murdered by a Serial Killer, given that her ear was left behind; what happened to Milton is a complete mystery.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The house has a lot of upper levels attached to it that look like it might collapse at any time, with the later children's rooms there. Some of the staircases leading up to these rooms are already rotting apart.
    • The cannery chopper in Lewis' story noticeably doesn't have a guard or any real protection - one would think it would be simple to implement a guard with a hole at the bottom to allow workers to efficiently slice salmon without exposing themselves to risk of injury. One could be mistaken for thinking that Lewis' fate involves accidentally chopping his hand of or at least one of his fingers when his imagination becomes too much for him to still be aware of the position of the chopper. Granted, the fact that he successfully decapitated himself with said chopper is probably even more damning of his employer's negligence.
  • Obsessed with Food: Molly in her flashback, due to being sent up to her room without any supper. She eats a gerbil's carrot, a tube of toothpaste, and some holly berries. This may have been what killed her- food poisoning causing her to hallucinate and die. In her experience becoming various animals, she eats a bird (as a cat), two rabbits (as an owl), a seal (as a shark), and the passengers and crew of a ship (as a sea monster). She may have been killed by her sea monster self, as she writes that it is waiting under her bed for her to go to sleep, but won't wait much longer.
  • Off with His Head!: How Lewis dies, by sticking his head under the blade of the cannery chopper.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Several of the Finches see their children die before them. Odin outlives his infant son Johann. Edie outlives all five of her children, and Sven manages to outlive three of them (Sam and Walter are still alive by the time he dies). Sam and Kay outlive both of their sons, leaving only Dawn, who outlives her elder son and is alive when her younger son runs away, but dies before her daughter. The only two people in the family with children to not outlive any of them are Edith (who dies while giving birth to her son), and Milton (who is still alive and whose son is still alive). Edie also outlives all but one of her grandchildren, as well as one of her great grandchildren.
  • Posthumous Character: Everyone in the Finch family except Edith. The point of the game is exploring the house to find out how they died. And then Edith dies in childbirth, leaving her son (the one reading the story in the first place) as the Sole Survivor.
  • Pregnant Badass: While she doesn't have to fight anything, Edith can climb, crawl and jump surprisingly well given her condition.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack Dissonance: Edmund Sears' "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" (1849) plays in the background while the sea monster you control eats up a ship's captain and crew members in Molly's scenario, while "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker (1892) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky plays in the background while Gregory plays with the bath toys and accidentally drowns himself in his scenario. Not surprising, since both are Christmas songs that play at the time of the children's deaths due to the curse.
  • Reality Ensues: A constant theme of the game is that members of the Finch family are prone to making grand gestures and acting on story-logic rather than common sense, and that this frequently ends badly for them.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Edith notes early on that Edie liked to tell people that there was a mole man living beneath her land, something Edith considers an example of Edie's overall eccentricity. She later finds out that Edie's son Walter was in fact living in a bunker under the house the whole time.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Walter was so terrified of the curse getting him that he hid in an underground bunker for decades. Eventually this made him desperate enough to see the sun that he recklessly breaks out of his bunker- and onto some train tracks just as a train was coming.
  • Sequence Breaking: It's possible to reach the end of the game without experiencing the stories of Odin, Calvin, Sam, Gus, Gregory, Milton, and Lewis.
  • Serial Killer: One is mentioned in Barbara's story, and is presumably responsible for the death of Barbara and her boyfriend.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single Line of Descent: A dark example. Edith is the only descendant of Odin Finch, even though each of the intervening generations held multiple siblings - because only one member of each lived long enough to breed, while the rest died in freak accidents as children or teenagers.
  • Sole Survivor: Edith is this to her family. And after she dies, her son becomes this.
  • Stealth Prequel: Possibly one to The Unfinished Swan, if Milton and The King from that game are the same person.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Barbara, whose ear was found inside a music box in the hallway.
  • Swallowed Whole: Molly, maybe.
  • Teenage Pregnancy: Edith is 17 years old and 22 weeks along at the time of the story.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many of the Finches pursue their passions first and consider basic caution second if at all. Such acts of recklessness include building a swing set on top of a cliff, flying one's kite in the middle of a violent storm, and exploring a tall, dilapidated, old house by their lonesome while in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Molly herself becomes one of these and crawls under her own bed to eat her. Or she just imagined it in her hallucinations.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Everyone. There is not a single moment in this game when you are 100 percent certain that what you are seeing represents the actual events as they occurred. For starters, many of the scenes feature the deaths of family members from their individual perspectives, but are narrated by others who have their own takes on what happened and in many cases, weren't even there. In several cases it isn't made clear how the family member died, or even if he or she died at all. Even Edith herself doubts her own perspective on numerous occasions, and since that is the perspective from which the entire game is told, so you doubt every event she recounts.
  • The Un-Reveal: Edie's segment has the young Edith start reading her account of something that happened the night she (Edith) was born, which seems to be supernatural in nature. The player may well hope that this is the part where we finally find out what's up with the family curse, the disappeared Finches and the entire Big, Screwed-Up Family. No such luck, though - Dawn turns up and tears the book apart before Edith can finish it, and those questions remain unanswered.
  • Too Dumb to Live: While some of the deaths of the family members are tragic and sudden, some of them could have been prevented, like Calvin's and Gus' death. Which brings the question if the family is really cursed, or have a bad habit of making fatal mistakes.
  • Wham Line: Edith: "If she'd told me there was going to be so much climbing, I never would've come when I was 22 weeks pregnant."
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Edith. Many full-grown adults have a harder time understanding and accepting death than a seventeen-year-old pregnant girl burdened with the knowledge that she may not live to see her own son.
  • Wish Fulfillment: In-Universe. Tired of his dead-end job at the fish cannery, Lewis dreams up an ideal world where he is the supreme king and all of his subjects adore him. Eventually, he gets so immersed in this fantasy that he stops wanting to leave.
  • Womb Level: The final level of the game, where Christopher is born and Edith herself dies.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Walter, who believes deeply in the curse and tries to survive it. He does this by staying stationary in the same place, eating the same can of peaches for 30 years, while digging through the wall underneath the house to escape it. He succeeds, only to enter a tunnel with train tracks, while a train is coming.

Example of: