We all have bad days. Maybe something goes wrong at work, or the bills coming through the door just keep piling up, but it all eventually subsides with a brighter outlook on the not too distant horizon. This is just a part of life: the ups and the downs define with who we are and what we get out of life.
But what happens if it doesn’t subside? It the hits just keep on coming and you’re too tired, or just don’t even damn care, to throw your guard up?
I’ve been there. Some of you have probably been there, too. For three years of my life, I spent almost every evening getting drunk alone for reasons that aren’t all that important. There was just a void, a sense of total nothingness that made anything other than ennui utterly unbearable. Nothing brought me joy. Nothing.
That’s exactly why I related to the tragedy of Lewis in What Remains of Edith Finch, a sublime interactive drama which was recently released for PS4 and PC.
The brother to the titular Edith Finch, Lewis spends his days working at a cannery, repeating the same routine over and over again. He’s recently been rehabilitated for drug dependence and has been given a menial job to help him reintegrate. Trouble is, he’s still just empty.
As one of the many sequences in What Remains of Edith Finch, you assume control of Lewis as he goes about the duties of his work: chopping the heads off of shift. It’s boring, but that’s kind of the point. As your mind begins to wander, so does Lewis’. Before long, a vague shape appears on the left side of the screen. It’s Lewis, daydreaming himself into a maze.
His daydreaming quickly becomes more and more vivid, going from the dark recesses of a dungeon to a whole city, onwards to the ocean and new continents. Lewis is escaping the shackles of the 9-5, something we all do now and again – when was the last time you sat at your desk and pondered what you would be like as a superhero?
But it’s not superpowers that Lewis craves. It’s just some kind of acknowledgement. Everyone is so wrapped up in themselves that they no longer really relate to others like they used to, which is why Lewis makes himself the ruler of everything he sees, beloved by his people and adored by everyone. The sun seems to shine when he’s around and joyful music is never far behind.
Tragedy inevitably strikes at the end of the sequence. It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point of What Remains of Edith Finch, but it hits home more than anything else in the game. Lewis Finch reminds me of my old self so much, someone so detached from reality and any kind of “normal” that it’s better to just not confront anything at all and disappear.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of stories like these, some of which seem to deal in pure fantasy, but none of them stuck with me quite like Lewis’, because Lewis was me if I had never sought out help. Cultured Vultures was my crutch (and still is), the dream that I could cling to and try to better myself for. The fact that Lewis only had his daydreams is possibly one of the saddest stories in all of gaming and one that I wish everyone would play through.
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