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Author Topic: What Remains of Edith Finch - Giant Sparrow - PC  (Read 1210 times)
Falconeer
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on: December 14, 2017, 08:32:21 PM

Wow.

This is the walking simulator that all walking simulators will be measured by for quite some time. The game that the makers of Gone Home should have made next but didn't.
Visually stunning, heartbreaking story told without wasting any time but never rushing anything. It amazes and surprises you even when you think you've finally got it. It manages to make one single house into a magical maze where you can't get lost but don't want to get out of. It's short enough to be played in one or two sessions max, it's beautiful, it's THE masterpiece in the genre.

If Doki Doki Literature Club could ever be nominated for Game of the Year then this would be a serious contender for game of the decade.

And I am not crying. You are crying.

schild
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Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 01:00:03 PM

If this isn't better than Firewatch you're gonna have to fite me irl
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Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 01:52:30 PM

This has been on my wishlist for a while.  Would definitely be curious to hear more reviews on it, since taste on walking simulators seems to be wildly subjective (e.g. I liked Gone Home way more than Firewatch and I think I'm in the minority there).

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
Falconeer
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Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 11:11:00 PM

Nooooo it is not better than Firewatch! At least not for you, I am 100% sure of that  Heartbreak

Also, I liked Gone Home more than Firewatch too.

schild
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Reply #4 on: January 05, 2018, 05:33:37 PM

I bought this. I will bill you $12.99 if it sucks, Falc.
Raph
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Title delayed while we "find the fun."


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Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 09:02:34 PM

It might be the single best game of the year.
schild
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Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 11:51:11 PM

Hoooooooooooboy that is not an endorsement.
Raph
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Title delayed while we "find the fun."


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Reply #7 on: January 06, 2018, 02:19:44 PM

OK, how about it is probably the single most emotionally impactful, engaging, and interesting interactive experience of the year.

Gamewise, Zelda is way deeper and more intricate, and way larger. Gorogoa is more mysterious and adventurous. And Nidhogg 2 is right up there with the best actual pure gameplay.
Falconeer
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Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 10:43:30 AM

Me and Raph have similar tastes in games that date back to 1983 I believe. This makes me want to try Nidhogg again because for some reason I couldn't get into it and dropped it after only a few minutes.

Raph, I'll take this chance to ask you something: what do you think of Demon's Souls? (dontsayIdidnotplayitdontsayIdidnotplayitdontsayIdidnotplayitdontsayIdidnotplayit).

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Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 04:02:01 PM

Play Nidhogg 2 with another person. It's fundamentally a head to head game.

I did play Demon's Souls but it made no real impression on me and I couldn't tell you even what it was about.
Sir T
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Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 05:03:18 PM

It was about Demons and Souls.

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Falconeer
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Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 06:52:04 PM

*sigh*

Teleku
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Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 07:41:01 PM

I can sort of see why Demon Soul's got the praise it did here, and it was impressive visually.  But I ended up feeling the game was pretty meh.  Made it about 2/3rds of the way though, then just got bored with it and never picked it up again.  Combat/itemization needed to be more engaging.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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schild
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Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 09:49:15 PM

I did play Demon's Souls but it made no real impression on me and I couldn't tell you even what it was about.
This is a mind blowing assessment from the writer of A Theory of Fun.

Combat/itemization needed to be more engaging.
This is just absurd. It has genre leading and defining combat. I have No Clue what you want out of the itemization. Its not Diablo or anything like that. Is there a chance youre talking about Dark Souls?
Teleku
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Reply #14 on: January 10, 2018, 12:21:37 AM

No (haven't played any of the Dark Soul games).  I just meant that for me, while the combat had its points, I didn't feel it was engaging/fun enough to keep me interested when the game design was based around making you play the same content over and over when you died.  If it had Diablo style loot to get me excited about killing the same guys again, or shorter distances to travel after death, it might have mitigated that.  But unless I aced a level on the very first try (which happened sometimes, but very rarely), it just wasn't very fun to run through the whole level all over again.  And by the third time, I was totally bored, as I was just doing the exact same series of moves to block/dodge/kill the exact same sequence of enemies.  Going through a level in that game felt like I was just memorizing the moves in a puzzle rather than fighting enemies, and for myself that's not very fun after the first try or two.

I know you are going to not agree with any of this in the slightest because Demon Souls is Robot Jesus to you (and many other people), but I lean more towards Raph's view.  I thought it had amazing atmosphere and some refreshingly unique game mechanics.  Actually being difficult was a nice change of pace from all the push over games they make these days.  But once I got past the novelty of those things, the game play itself just got too repetitive and boring.


"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Falconeer
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Reply #15 on: January 10, 2018, 02:30:10 AM

So weird. Other than the starting position of mobs, you couldn't memorize shit in combat. You had to actually fight. For the first time ever in a videogame probably. Not robot jesus for me, just the MOST engaging melee combat ever made.

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Reply #16 on: January 10, 2018, 10:35:46 AM

The combat was good but the repetitiveness of clearing back through an area combined with the dickpunchy difficulty eventually wore me down, and left me with 0 desire to play any of the later spinoffs.

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Reply #17 on: January 10, 2018, 04:56:39 PM

I did play Demon's Souls but it made no real impression on me and I couldn't tell you even what it was about.
This is a mind blowing assessment from the writer of A Theory of Fun.

Why? I play well over a hundred, maybe 150 games a year. I forget the VAST majority of them. Tons of them blend together. This year people are raving about Nioh and its combat. My take was that it was deep but lacked virtually all on-ramp. This has been my issue with just about all the Dark Souls-style games too. You can't tell how to get smarter, which you might recall is a pretty key part of Theory of Fun...
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Reply #18 on: January 10, 2018, 05:26:03 PM

So is Edith Finch actually any fun?  why so serious?

Teleku
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Reply #19 on: January 10, 2018, 07:02:44 PM

We're waiting for Schilds in depth review.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Reply #20 on: January 10, 2018, 07:52:01 PM

The combat was good but the repetitiveness of clearing back through an area combined with the dickpunchy difficulty eventually wore me down, and left me with 0 desire to play any of the later spinoffs.
I'm not at a computer so I'll type a longer answer later, but clearing back through levels? All the main DS dungeons and a switch at the end that opened a door and dumped you back at the beginning. Every level wrapped around itself iirc, except the very last area.
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Reply #21 on: January 10, 2018, 08:23:34 PM

The combat was good but the repetitiveness of clearing back through an area combined with the dickpunchy difficulty eventually wore me down, and left me with 0 desire to play any of the later spinoffs.
I'm not at a computer so I'll type a longer answer later, but clearing back through levels? All the main DS dungeons and a switch at the end that opened a door and dumped you back at the beginning. Every level wrapped around itself iirc, except the very last area.
It's been a long time, but I remember being stuck on the dungeon with the Flamelurker and having to clear back through long swaths of bullshit to retry him.

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Teleku
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Reply #22 on: January 11, 2018, 08:30:38 AM

Yeah, I remember that sort of thing also.  I mean, getting 90% of the way through the level before dying, and having to do the whole thing again, was constant enough to keep up the repetitiveness.  But while many levels did have those switches, I recall many still putting them pretty far back from the boss.  Grinding a bunch of shit over and over as the payment for trying to learn a boss encounter was the opposite of fun.

But I also haven't played the game since it first came out, so things are fuzzy at this point.  The annoyance still stabs its way through the cob webs of time though.   awesome, for real
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 08:32:09 AM by Teleku »

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Reply #23 on: January 11, 2018, 03:08:58 PM

Is it a bad sign for a game's fun quotient when its BiiF thread derails into a discussion of another game?   awesome, for real

I was waiting on the schild review but Raph's endorsement seems like a pretty strong guarantee that the game is at least noteworthy/memorable, just given how many games I know he wades through.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #24 on: January 11, 2018, 08:35:26 PM

I'll try to do this without spoilers. TLDR: Basically, an amazing gamut of emotional stuff gets evoked by linking minigames to the stories really tightly.

Long form:

Edith Finch is a *major* structural evolution of what people have termed "walking simulators," first person narrative storytelling, a hybridization of filmic story with narrative drips from static object interactions.

Gone Home was basically "click on things, get story bit, move on." The game consisted in finding all the story bits in a zone before moving to the next zone, and in assembling the bits in your head to form a coherent picture. In that sense, it was not very structurally sophisticated -- it told an interesting story, but mechanically, it was basically the environmental storytelling mechanic over and over, with some minor key lock stuff in between.

Later narrative games ranging from That Dragon Cancer to The Novelist have added more forms of mechanical interaction with the story. TDC is probably the most obvious direct antecedent to Edith Finch; sequences in TDC involved moving in particular directions, or doing specific actions, that lined up to the story. For example, in TDC there is a moment where the story is about not being able to continue struggling, and needing to embrace the fact that terminal illness is going to win. The game has been presenting you with a challenge to swim to a surface, and the "correct answer" in terms of play action is to choose to drown. It's a powerful moment of tightly coupling narrative and basic gameplay mechanics -- what might get called ludonarrative consonance rather than dissonance.

Edith Finch is basically a linked short story collection. The player moves through gradual narrative discovery learning about the family history of the character they are playing. The action takes place entirely inside and in the immediate grounds of a magical-realist house on the shore somewhere in the Pac NW. To start with, the actual exploration involves some basic puzzle solving, adventure game style, with hidden doors and the like. This is obviously not new in games, but it immediately frames the game as not settling for solely environmental storytelling. The game also uses location-based audio cues linked to progress to narrate. So basically, it covers all the stuff that you saw in games like Ethan Carter, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, as well.

And then it HUGELY ups the ante. As you learn about individual characters who have lived in the house in the past, you start to inhabit their experiences. You take control of their body, in flashbacks, and experience what they went through -- actually, it's better put as you CAUSE what they went through. In many cases, the rendering changes radically and with it the style of gameplay. Some of these characters engage in just small minigames that get across what they do -- a kid on a swing, a hermit repeatedly opening a tin. Others offer actual gameplay, such as a brief horror survival sequence narrated in comic book form, or a fun experimental control game where you play a tentacled monster, or a sequence with playing with toys in a bathtub that may make you cry (it's a case where you the player are complicit in something terrible, but the mechanics make you want to do it, and even celebrate you doing it). The near culmination of it all is a moment where you literally control a real world activity with one thumbstick and a videogame-in-the-game with the other, and both are rendered at the same time, with one taking over the other, and gradually the repetitive real world play turns out to matter to the trickier-to-drive game-in-game.

Basically, it plays with "mechanics that make you feel things" REALLY effectively. And it's a tour de force doing it, because sometimes it does it for schlocky horror, others for sadness, others for humor, others for modeling suicidal depression.

Why is this exciting? Games and story historically coexist in troubled fashion. Embedded minigames typically serve as just "ways to turn the page" -- stuff like a lockpicking game in an Uncharted game or something is just a little minigame and carries basically no emotional impact. Stories may be well written and acted -- and Edith Finch is both, obviously -- but often you are passively observing during the emotionally powerful moments. In Edith Finch, we have the single best example of marrying story and game basically ever -- and not once, but done like twelve times in one game, twelve different ways, with twelve different effects. It's a tremendous achievement in that sense.

On top of that, yeah, many of the actual minigames are fun. Heck, the plain old navigation of the space is pretty fun -- it's a cool place to explore, and the hidden passages and the like offer the right amount of that given the emphasis the game puts on story.

All in all, it ends up as a meditation on life and death and whether there is such as thing as a good death or a good life. And that is pretty damn weighty territory for a videogame and hugely more ambitious in terms of story than 99% of games, easily. (Gorogoa tackles similar themes, this past year, via puzzles, but isn't emotionally direct about it -- the puzzles provide a bit of emotional remove.)

So... is it as "fun" as Zelda BOTW? No. It focuses on solving on VERY HARD design problem and does it brilliantly, and it does it in service of way better writing and storytelling than Zelda does. Zelda goes broad with stuff I eat up: simulation, diverse playstyles, etc. It offers a far heavier weighting on traditional gameplay. But as an experience it is therefore far more diffuse, and doesn't reach the same emotional peaks. So it was a greater achievement in pound for pound systemic design, particularly given its breadth -- shit, it deserves an award just for its fatigue meter -- but it's a bit like comparing a season-long TV show that has a ton of intricate plot that is great fun to watch but has some episodes that are better than others (in Zelda, for example, we might call out, well, the entire inventory UI as "worst episode ever," it's really below standard for both BOTW's overall bar, and really, for plenty of RPGs in general), and a movie that is smaller, quieter, impeccably crafted at that smaller length, and tears your heart out.
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Reply #25 on: January 12, 2018, 03:52:52 PM

Excellent writeup, Raph, this does sound up my alley.   DRILLING AND MANLINESS

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #26 on: January 13, 2018, 04:27:01 AM

Now you know what my interior monologues are like when playing any game. :P
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Reply #27 on: January 20, 2018, 06:57:44 PM

The one thing I saw that I thought was pretty clever was the cannery segment. It's basically a near perfect way to literally force you to experience the equivalent of daydreaming while working a dangerous, repetitive job.

"The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist." - George Bernard Shaw
Samwise
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Reply #28 on: April 07, 2018, 10:27:09 AM

I played this last night.  I thought it was pretty damn good.  It didn't make me cry like Gone Home did, but it did a much better job of sucking me into its world and its characters than Firewatch did, and it was more visually engaging than either. 

I definitely fell in love with the entire setting -- I love forests and weird houses with personality and all that shit so that just got me right in the vitals.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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