Death and chaos with Edith Finch and The Unfinished Swan

A short while into What Remains of Edith Finch, you come to a beach. It’s night, but you can still make out the silhouette of something, half sunk, against the horizon. You’ll probably want to check that out, you think, but not now – no boat, no way to get there, too far out – so along the little beach you go. Waves wash and lap, lights from some other town star the stretch of distant coast, the moon lacquers the ocean, and a memory lingers of the last story you saw, grim and only just finished, in a black tunnel from which you’ve just emerged. Your diary wonders something aloud: maybe it would be better if this all died with you.

It doesn’t, and on you go, through some rubble and nonsensical debris – a totem pole? – through lingering memory, to the path off the beach at the other end. A flight of stairs made of stone, which leads to another flight, made of wood, which leads to wherever you must go next. You walk up the stone stairs and wonder aloud again about your family’s obsessions, and about being lost, about the reader, your as yet unborn son, being lost too, and maybe you get a little lost there yourself – because it’s dark, and it’s hard to see, and there’s a jetty that looks promising, half-leading back out to the ink but only ending nowhere. And then you find your way up the wooden stairs which must be the right way but climb, at first, into near total black, another tunnel in the open air. At the top of those stairs, at last, at the end of such a short beach, is light – a gate, waist-high and painted white, which you open and walk through and ignore, hearing more of your thoughts and looking forwards for your next path.

That gate caused such an argument at Giant Sparrow, the studio behind Edith Finch and Unfinished Swan, that it almost reduced Ian Dallas and the team to tears.

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