Martha is Dead is typically the type of game I would not play. Not that it’s in a bad genre, just a kind of game that’s not in my wheelhouse. However, after seeing some trailers and later hearing about the PlayStation version being censored I just had to see what all the fuss was about. Lucky for me, I was tasked with this Martha Is Dead review.
Set in 1944 Italy, Martha Is Dead is a dark first-person psychological thriller that blurs the lines between reality, superstition, and the tragedy of war. Martha Is Dead weaves together real-world locations, historical events from the latter stages of World War II, folklore, and deep psychological distress. I feel it is important to reiterate that this is title is a psychological thriller, not. While you will undoubtedly have some scenes scare you I want to be clear on how I feel this game is set. Most people will confuse the two and maybe be disappointed as Marth Is Dead is not a scary game, just very disturbing.
In Martha Is Dead you play as Martha’s twin sister Giulia. You find a desecrated body of a woman which you discover to be Martha drowned in a lake near the family home. Soon after Giulia, incidentally takes Martha’s identity due to them being indistinguishable as twins. Their one defining feature being Martha is deaf. After the parents find both Giulia and Martha’s dead body they assume the body that’s drowned is Giulia, because Giulia herself is too stunned to speak which leads her mother to believe this was the deaf sister. In addition to Guila now wearing Martha’s necklace.
Throughout Martha Is Dead Giulia takes it upon herself to discover the secrets of what happened to her sister. As well as fight her inner demons as to why she chose to take her sister’s identity. Giulia has many opportunities to tell her parents she is not Martha but does not as she believes her parents loved Martha more and that she should have been the sister that died. The story takes you on an adventure to discover who or what caused Martha’s death.
A key element to learning what’s truly happening comes with interacting with the environment. There are countless amount of things throughout the game like pictures, letters, and artifacts that you can select and learn more about the world, the war, and the family. Using the hint system in the game marks all the items you can interact with. Some items are just a learning tool, while others will be important items for the player to take and use later on in the game.
This title’s core gameplay is a lot simpler than I expected going in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a side note. As you learn more about the world, you will spend a lot of time clicking and reading. Taking photos is similar to a very in-depth mini-game that you can play multiple times. Photography is integral to the gameplay experience.
When taking photographs, it is critical to ensure that the subject is in the frame, that the lighting is adequate, and that the subject is in focus. As you progress, you will gain access to new films and camera attachments that will help you progress through the game. While it’s critical to take the photo correctly, it’s even more critical to process it correctly in the red room. All of this is part of the world’s emersion. Taking the photos in just the right way reveals what you need to learn about what is going on.
This game’s movement will be familiar to those who have played TellTale games. Things will feel stiff at times, but having the ability to run makes things feel better and less like a drag. There are other ways to travel that are faster, such as Guilia’s bicycle. Although it is sometimes convenient, I prefer to run because riding the bike quickly became an annoyance for me.
There are other aspects of the game mechanics that will leave some gamers absolutely shook. One being early on when you channel your inner Buffalo Bill during one of Guilia’s many dreams. This scene will be difficult for some as this is not a cut scene but a very interactive QTE part of the game. By the way, there was no need to put the lotion on the skin….yes, I actually said that.
Seeing how I played this game on PC it’s important that I post the minimum & recommended settings.
Martha Is Dead minimum requirements
- Memory: 8 GB
- Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 7790
- CPU: Intel Core i5-4400E
- File Size: 30 GB
- OS: Windows 10 64bit
Martha Is Dead recommended requirements
- Memory: 16 GB
- Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 580
- CPU: Intel Core i7-610
- File Size: 30 GB
- OS: Windows 10 64bit
This game by no means is the best game I have seen graphically however it does look very good the higher you have your setting on your PC for obvious reasons. It’s not a game that will set any sort of graphical benchmarks in my opinion however the models are really good. There is not much to be said about the “world” as it’s fairly still. It’s important to note that a heavy narrative game like this doesn’t need to have top-notch graphics or anything of the nature as it’s being carried by its narrative.
The deeply atmospheric soundtrack sets this game apart. From the title screen on you become fully emerged in the game with the sound. For the audiophiles, there is a triple Vinyl Soundtrack, which is available to purchase separately from the Collector’s Edition. This will be worthwhile for those who find the music as fantastic as myself.
While the music itself is the star here, the other sounds of the game are just as good from the voice acting to the sound the bike makes are you try to navigate the world.
Overall, Martha is Dead delves deeply into the psychology of a very disturbed and distraught sibling and presents very disturbing images for the player. All while telling a story that is sure to grip many people’s thoughts. This game is well worth the price of admission when you consider the photography and gameplay features.
This title is not recommended for players who may find depictions of mature scenes containing blood, dismemberment, disfigurement of human bodies, miscarriage, and self-harm disturbing.
Thank you to Wired Productions for proving the PC game code for purpose of this review.
Martha Is Dead will launch on PC, PlayStation 4 & PlayStation 5, and the Xbox family of devices on Thursday, February 24th, 2022.