Disclaimer: A code was provided by the publisher, but it, in no way, affects my review which reflects only my own thoughts. The game was played on a PS4 Pro with supersampling enabled.
Set in a timeline when World War 2 is raging on and Europe is engulfed in flames, Martha is Dead is a psychological thriller peppered with some horror elements and grim scenes which will make you uncomfortable due to their raw depiction. It tries to include the elements of war-induced terror along with the struggles of the resistance movement in Italy, combining it with childhood trauma and fears of a child. The game released on 24th February, is developed by LKA and published by Wired Productions.
Martha is Dead is a game which deals with topics like mental health, childhood abuse and consequences/impact of such actions on the psyche of a child. You play as Giulia, the twin sister of Martha and the first thing you see is you with your nanny talking about the tale of the White Lady, a tragic story about the death of a love-struck woman who was killed by her beau due to his jealousy, who was then later hanged as result. Then, the events transition into this dark montage where Giulia who, for some reason, is near the lake and suddenly sees a body floating in the lake adjacent to her, which turn out to be her twin sister Martha. From here, the whole mystery begins, the search for figuring out who killed Martha and this is all taking place when the Axis powers are being pushed back in Italy.
Giulia is an avid photographer, an activity which she picked up from her father, a General in the German Army and photography is intimately intertwined with the gameplay. Photographs serve more than one purpose as they provide important hints to advance the story as well as help solve other hidden riddles present in the game. The best part is that the game teaches you how to use the vintage camera provided to you and this is informative as you learn how to use an important instrument of history for investigative purposes, including developing photos which can help in separating reality from the delusions of your mind.
There is a lot of inference and detective work required from your side if you want to attempt the formation of a proper picture of the events that transpired leading to ‘Martha’s death’ or even piecing together Giulia’s past. Since, the game deals with issues related to childhood trauma, Giulia, as you will find out, is unable to separate fiction from reality and it is up to the player to embrace a narrative from their own findings. This open interpretation of the events that you experience feels rewarding as you can draw your own conclusion based on your own investigation and how you analysed each encounter.
Coming to gruesome and horror elements of the game, I found the game to have a decent amount of queasy stuff that made my stomach roil and I had to look away from the screen for one scene, later in the story. The horror emerges from these grisly moments along with a few jump scares at the start as well as the nightmares experienced by Giulia and at the creeping realisation that everything you see might not be real. There has been a degree of censorship in the Playstation version as some scenes have been turned from user interactive to pseudo cutscenes requiring no input as well as an option to skip them. Don’t expect any spooky elements as these moments are far and few.
Let’s move to the unpleasant bits: bugs, stutters, texture pop-ins and a general absence of smoothness in the controls. I played the game on Version 1.01, with the game running on a PS4 Pro but the performance was just disheartening. I lost audio 2-3 times, had frame freezes while operating the camera or when entering some areas, along with stuttering and once the game froze when I was dressing up for the day leading me to restart the game. I hope that developers address this as soon as possible to smooth over the experience, as these things break the immersion which is very important for a psychological thriller like this.
- Amazing soundtrack which is apt for the game
- A degree of realism whilst operating the camera and photo development
- Occasional Stutters and Frame Drops
- Lot of texture pop ups
- Some events don’t make sense
Martha is Dead serves as an appetizer to fans of this genre, with a story that can be interpreted in many ways, to satisfy and fit the player’s narrative. Buoyed by its nifty photography system and a great soundtrack, the experience is marred by the lackluster ending along with some questionable events, which at times might not make sense and some performance issues.
Game & Developer Information
Developer Website: LKA
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: Wired Productions
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: ₹1,999 India/ £24.99 GBP/ €29.99 Europe / $29.99 North America
Trophy Information: 23. 1 / 6 / 14 / 2
Cover Image – https://www.mobygames.com/