What Remains of Edith Finch
By: Annapurna Interactive / Giant Sparrow
It was hard not to hear about Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch back when it released in 2017, as anyone within the games sphere was talking about it. Still, I didn’t want to play on my computer, so I kept my head down and managed to avoid any spoilers. When it came to the Nintendo Switch in 2019, I decided to play it on my second-most preferred platform instead of waiting to see it if might come to iOS. I reviewed it and was utterly blown away by the story, production values, and especially the way the controls were a part of the puzzle. Now, it’s finally available on iOS and I’m happy to say that the controls were handled with care and it loses none of its magic. In some instances it even feels like the best way to experience this masterpiece.
I already reviewed the game itself so I don’t want to repeat myself here. Instead, I’ll focus mainly on the iOS port. But the gist of it is that Edith Finch is a walking simulator in which you explore the sprawling Finch house, both inside and out, and learn about all its past residents. As you do so, you play through each of their stories as a sort of unique mini game. But they’re all connected to each other and to the house and to Edith herself. One of the things I love about the game is how it has this incredible way of making you feel like you’re exploring, even though it’s very linear. It just pulls you along the path organically, led by excerpts from Edith’s journal that are perfectly voice acted by Valerie Rose Lohman.
I also love how each of the family members’ vignettes includes some light puzzle elements, mostly related to the controls themselves. Part of the magic of the game is that it never tells you what the goal is or how anything works. I remember fumbling a bit at first when I played on my Switch because it starts with you opening Edith’s journal. It wasn’t completely obvious to me that I would need to use the joystick for that, so I first pressed a bunch of buttons. And that’s where the touch controls make more sense. You swipe the book open with your finger almost like you would a real book. You still use the floating on-screen joystick to walk around, but pains have been taken to make sure that all interaction feels as tactile as possible. If you’ve ever played any of The Room games, you might recall how you turn a key in a lock instead of just inserting it and watching it open. The same happens here with keys, cranks, even a can opener. Similarly, you swipe up to open a window, spread two fingers apart to open curtains, and so forth.
There are still parts where joysticks are necessary, sometimes even two. And there’s a vignette where you’re using the two halves of the screen to control two things going on at once. Sometimes it took a moment to figure out the controls for a specific section but once I did it felt perfectly natural. Some might even say it feels more natural than using a controller. There were only a couple of instances early on in the game where the joystick felt hypersensitive and I had trouble making it do what I wanted. But overall, I’m very happy with how they handled the controls. Back when I played it on my Switch, I even said, “I would gladly revisit the game on my iPad if it ever makes it there, simply to see how they adapt the controls. I think a touchscreen would offer the developers some new opportunities to be creative in ways that a controller can’t.” Now that I’ve done so, I can say that it was absolutely worth it. I loved revisiting this world and its story, and the intimacy of my iPad allowed me to notice details I hadn’t when playing on my television.
On top of all this, the game looks fantastic on my 2021 iPad Pro. And while I’m not sure I would want my only experience with the game to be on a small screen, it still plays beautifully on my iPhone 12 Mini. Also, thanks to flawless iCloud sync, I can now replay any of the Finches’ stories anytime, anywhere, as the completed game is in my pocket. It also has full controller support if you prefer one, and whether you use one or not, you can hide the joystick(s) and keep the screen clutter-free. I should mention, though, that the game is not fullscreen on iPad as suggested by the App Store screenshots. It’s letterboxed to preserve the original dimensions. That didn’t bother me much, but it’s something to be aware of. There are also sadly no achievements in this version, which means both platforms I played it on were missing them. It’s unfortunate, since they do hint at little details that are easy to miss otherwise. And GameCenter offers a robust achievements system, so I’m not sure why they were left out.
What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those must-play games if you’re someone who values story and exploration and don’t need any sort of combat in your games. If you already played it on another platform, I’m not sure there’s any need to buy it again on iOS unless you want it in your pocket at all times. If you’re new to the game, the iOS version is just as good as any other platform, unless the achievements are important to you. I personally preferred the touchscreen controls in most cases over a controller and enjoyed working them out for each vignette. Bottom line is, if you game on iOS device and haven’t played Edith Finch yet, please do so now. Grab the the game here and discover what happened to the Finch family.
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