GOTY 2017: The Top 10 Games of the Year - #4
Welcome to the Ninth Annual Silicon Sasquatch Top 10 Games of the Year list! After months of discussion and yet another marathon five-hour meeting, we've finally narrowed down the 10 games that we feel best represent the best and most important that 2017 had to offer.
#4 - What Remains of Edith Finch
Giant Sparrow | April 25th, 2017 | PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
Personally speaking, 2017 wasn’t a great year.
After experiencing a severe tragedy last spring, I lost all desire to watch, read, or play anything. For months, media didn’t matter. I jumped in and out of new game releases. I barely picked up a book. I didn’t care what was on TV. Even music, a pretty reliable confidant, rang hollow. Nothing made a lasting impression.
When I finally sat down to play What Remains of Edith Finch, it was a late July evening and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d read positive headlines about its release, but I hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to pay attention.
I wasn’t prepared for the experience. In just two neat, tidy hours, developer Giant Sparrow presented a narrative that I’m still struggling to describe, and one that helped me cope with my family’s ongoing pain. Edith Finch is designed to compassionately elicit raw emotion from anyone who’s ever had a difficult parent, a distant sibling, or a weird uncle. Basically, Edith Finch was made for everyone.
The game opens with the titular Edith Finch back in her ancestral home, an abandoned and immaculately constructed museum to long-dead family members, all victims of tragic (and sometimes darkly comical) deaths. Edith navigates through the house to visit each relation’s room and reminisce. She treats the personal effects of the deceased with care, like they’re under guard in a macabre museum of the dead.
At no time is it a chore to experience Edith’s family’s lives through a series of fantastical vignettes. Her great-aunt Barbara is killed and eaten by cannibals on Halloween night; uncle Gus died when a tent struck him in the middle of a massive storm. There’s no doubt that the Finches died, but as to which parts are embellished are entirely up to interpretation. The themes of death, pain, love, and hard-fought optimism feel gratifying even when they’re difficult to stomach. The death of an infant was especially rough on me. Still, What Remains of Edith Finch respected my time as a player with a quick, well-structured narrative while also respecting my experiences as a human being.
Without spoiling it: the game’s ending is clichéd, yet optimistic. And that’s OK. Playing through the lives of so many tragic ends only to be shown a new beginning reiterated the universal truths that death is unfair but life endures.
I’ll be thinking about Edith and her poor, doomed family many years from now. It’ll forever be a bright spot in a dark time of my life. Because of it, I was reminded that not all endings are final, and it’s OK to shine a bit of humorous light on tragedy.
Through Edith’s eyes, I remembered that even when we lose someone, they’re not truly gone. – Aaron Thayer