Intertain: Spotlight 01

The very first Spotlight session under the Intertain umbrella fixates on the intriguing lives and deaths portrayed in What Remains of Edith Finch, a game developed by Giant Sparrow. As participants of Edith’s truth-seeking homecoming, we have been compelled to reach into our minds and hearts for honest sharing tied to topics about family, home, and human existence.

Even after I inherited the house, I never thought I would come back to it.
But now I’ve questions about my family that only the house knew the answers to.

Below you may read our selected areas of discussion organised by subheadings, as well as any additional responses that have been kindly submitted by individual attendees.

>>> THE HOUSE OF REVELATION

In typical fashion of first-person exploration games (a.k.a. walking simulators), players never get the chance to meet and interact with any of the characters face-to-face. The story is instead unveiled through a self-guided tour of the Finch estate. It is remarkable realising the amount of information that we are able to gather about people just by studying their previously-inhabited space, along with all the personal belongings and memories stored within.

An open room, an open book.
  • Ayk: The Finch house is littered with books. Anyone who has ever visited my father’s place would have noticed his passion for books too as demonstrated by all the shelves that line the walls. He is, without doubt, a man that values head knowledge. After moving out, I continued to expand a collection of my own, though it would consist more of DVDs and games rather than reading material. Nevertheless, our penchant for amassing stuff pales in comparison to my uncle, whose home is all but a clutter of CDs, DVDs, books, vinyl records, photography equipment, children’s toys, teaware, food, plus every sort of junk one could imagine. These items have long overwhelmed possible storage solutions and now occupy tables, chairs, beds, and even across the floors. I guess my family simply loves collecting earthly treasure.

Nothing in the house looked abnormal.
There was just too much of it, like a smile with too many teeth.

>>> THE FAMILY TREE

Edith brings along a sketch of her family tree on the investigative journey. It isn’t a geographical diagram like in most games, but the drawing is a fitting and useful tool for mapping out generational connections in a game that focuses on relationships. Upon visiting each bedroom, she adds a distinctive portrait of the corresponding Finch member to the tree… until the entire composition is filled with a wholesome appreciation of who Edith really is as defined by her familial roots.

  • Clement: My dad seems to have passed down several of his traits to me, even though we grew up under very different environments. We struggle with academic study, but are skilled in creating art and performing magic, while sharing similarities in how we perceive the world.
Jotting everything down for what remains.
  • KJ: After becoming a father this year, I realise that I have a son who will look my way to make sense of himself at some point. Perhaps he may come to possess small hands and flat feet like me, or be as vocally expressive as I am. But above all, I hope to encourage him toward loving God and the Bible, and that he would grow to be a humble, joyful presence for many others.

>>> THE STORIES OF LIFE

Our lives as human beings are remembered as stories. It is often through these stories that we understand and relate to one another. On the quest to uncover the truth about the Finches, Edith relies heavily on the accounts left behind by the members of her family and relatives. With just a glimpse of the defining moments of their lives, she is able to gain a lasting impression of their existence in the world. As observers of this journey, we also feel a sense of connection and, in some cases, may begin to empathise with the dreams and struggles of these characters.

  • May: The Finch that I could well identify with is Molly. The memory that she left behind consists of one tasty course after another — truly a girl after my own stomach. As for munching habits, mine has been known to cause jaws to drop (of shock, as well as hunger). Beyond sheer quantity, meal satisfaction also depends on cravings of exotic flavours and varieties. But from Molly’s tale, I am served a reminder of what happens when we let desires go out of control. May God grant me strength to exercise discipline and restraint, lest I become consumed by gluttony.
  • Ayk: Throughout my days living under the family roof, my father had taught me fear with unpredictable, explosive fits of rage. Like Walter Finch, I instinctively resorted to hiding from this “monster” whenever possible, while maintaining certain routines to preserve a level of sanity. My abject brokenness haunted me even after moving out at the age of 30. Yet having taken that first step out from within the cage, life has slowly improved. I thank God for the time I have left to mend past wounds and become a healthier person in Christ for his glory and to bless others.

Whatever’s out there, I know I’m ready for it.
I don’t mind if I only have a year left.
Or a month… Or a single week…
I’d be happy with one new day.

  • Angela: The story of Lewis and his imaginative excursions into virtual worlds hit close to home. During several stretches of my life, I had found myself so absorbed in online gaming that it began to damage my relationships and commitments, both personal and professional. The hardest was when transitioning between reality and fiction became especially subtle as lines started to blur. My resistance against instant gratification weakened in these periods, often reacting much too slow to the sneaky grasp of temptation.
The coronation of King Lewis.

The Bible features quite a number of individuals whose stories reveal key moments of God’s history with humanity. For those belonging to Christ, we may also read these as records of our extended family of faith, seeing ourselves in their successes and failures.

  • Angela: On the topic of temptation, I am reminded of the fate of Lot’s wife (who, by the way, is named Edith in some Jewish traditions). While she could have been spared in the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, her lingering gaze toward the allures of sin brought upon fatal judgement, even as she managed to distance herself from the burning sulphur. For my own good, I am grateful to have walked away from addictive patterns of online gaming, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avert my eyes all the time. I will always need to pray for self-control and take comfort in recognising God’s faithfulness to mankind, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 reassures, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
  • May: I like reading about Peter in the Bible; stories featuring him illustrate the authentic passion he maintained for God. This fervent man didn’t always get everything right: for example, he was quick to affirm the kingship of Jesus, but failed to grasp why our Saviour needed to lay down his life. Nevertheless, guilt and shame couldn’t keep him away from repenting to a merciful God, most noticeably demonstrated after his three denials of Christ. I tend to share in some of this “thick-skinned” determination that allows us to jump right back to God amid hasty missteps.

>>> THE PATH TO DEATH

The fragility of life is seen again and again as each and every Finch memory ends in a premature demise. It is interesting that the player isn’t fighting to stay alive like in other games, but rather finds ways to be killed in order to progress through these sequences. Witnessing the final moments of their lives has proven to be a powerful experience.

  • Anthony: Seeing Lewis stuck in a monotonous, dead-end job — something that many can relate to in the workplace — strikes me as one of the most tragic tales. His disassociation from a reality without purpose and joy indicates to me that he has already tasted death in this world, even before his body surrenders to the loss of sanity.
Life passes with the wind.
  • Robin: The Bible warns us not to boast about tomorrow, for we don’t know what it may bring. Paying no mind to an uncertain future, Sam seized the day to go on a hunting adventure with his daughter, photographing key moments along the way. Although his life concluded during this trip, it didn’t strike me as a sad end considering how much he enjoyed his time without fear.

If we lived forever, maybe we’d have time to understand things.
But as it is, I think the best we can do is try to open our eyes…
And appreciate how strange and brief all of this is.

>>> THE CURSE NO MORE

Over at least five generations, members of the Finch family have all passed in an untimely fashion. With each occurrence, the curse that has supposedly shaped their existence grows in legitimacy. Both Edith’s great-great-grandfather (Odin) and her mother (Dawn) tried to escape from the ongoing misfortune via physical relocation, but to no avail. Edith’s own fate also follows on from those who came before her. After all, it takes special power to break a curse, overcome evil, or defeat sin — nothing short of Christ transforming us into new creation. So let us remind one another that our faith in God and the stories he intends to tell through our lives must outweigh the burdens, the patterns, and the behaviours arising from even the darkest depths of our history!

Farewell, Finches.

Group #1 Attendance [7]: Angela Sun, Ayk Iano, Clement Kwok, Daniel Juhn, Kai Chang, May Chien, and Robin Zhang.

Group #2 Attendance [5]: Akihiro Iseki, Anthony Byun, Ayk Iano, KJ Jang, and May Chien.