Martha Is Dead Review
Martha Is Dead is a dark first-person psychological thriller, set in 1944 Italy, that blurs the lines between reality, superstition, and the tragedy of war.
As conflict intensifies between German and Allied forces, the desecrated body of a woman is found drowned… Martha!
Martha is dead, and her twin sister Giulia, the young daughter of a German soldier, must alone deal with the acute trauma of loss and the fallout from her murder. The hunt for the truth is shrouded by mysterious folklore and the extreme horror of war that draws ever closer.
What can I say about this game? First, off apologies for the delay in coverage, there was a game-breaking bug for me on PS5 and I had to wait for the most recent patch to hit so I could continue on this haunting game. As you may or may not know, I dig horror games, for the most part, both the cheesy and the serious. So when I first got wind of Martha is Dead I was on board. In these walking simulator-type horror games there are always a few key moments that stick with you…and Martha is Dead has a lot of them.
With a backdrop of a horrible war, supernatural encounters, photography, puppets, morse code, this game has a spattering of different encounters much like What Remains of Edith Finch, but much darker believe it or not.
Martha Is Dead is an exploration of loss, relationships, and the psychological undertones of a dark period of history through the eyes of a young woman who seeks the truth, but who also has secrets of her own to hide. You can freely explore the breathtakingly realized Tuscany countryside on foot, by boat, or by bike.
Grounded in reality, Martha Is Dead’s setting and historical context are inspired by real facts and places that have been faithfully reconstructed. The war is prominent throughout your entire experience but only a few times being directly front and center in front of you, however, you can collect newspapers, telegrams and listen to the radio to keep updated on what is occurring in the world during the war, that all progress each “day” the game takes place in.
Since you were young your character is obsessed with the legend of The Lady, who steals and murders beautiful young women. You reach out to her as a guide on your journey and self-realization through Tarot Cards, exploration, and even Photography to summon her spirit.
Take pictures for the sheer pleasure of doing so, and also to progress through the story and discover more about the game world. A simulator will guide you through 1940s photography, where you’ll be able to develop your actual photos through a fully working in-game darkroom. You will utilize a plethora of types of film, including IR, lenses, lights, etc depending on the situation and what it calls for. You may even capture something you had no idea was even there.
Later in the game, you’re able to play through a marionette stage that helps you piece together various repressed memories your character has to help build more into the backstory all in search for the truth in what happened to Martha, and yourself. Once I received the patch there is little to complain about, the game runs, looks, and sounds fantastic.
One of my personal nitpicks is the story has a couple of plot holes depending on choices you make throughout the game. I obviously don’t want to give up anything as the story is really what this game is about, but there is one specific thing I encountered that made little sense to me in the grand scheme of things.
Now, we can’t talk about this game without addressing some censorship issues, the game got ALOT of press right before launch on how the Playstation version of the game is censored. Now that is true, but it’s not as big of a deal as many thought it to be.
The scene/scenes that are censored are all still in-game, but instead of playing the mini-games that occur you simply watch it unfold instead….which is almost more disturbing honestly. The game is seriously not for the faint of heart, there are some very gruesome and disturbing scenes, not so much scary…just haunting. Luckily if you find yourself uncomfortable you can skip these sequences once they start. The game on top of the gore aspects also has scenes and depictions of abuse, suicide, and depression as themes they explore in a multitude of ways.
I strongly encourage parents of young children to not only not allow them to play this game if they can’t handle this type of content but don’t even play it around them. It’s messed up.
Overall the game did have a lot to admire, it’s done in a unique artistic approach to the theme it’s running with. The story and gameplay do have a lot of twists and turns, and unfortunately, some do fall flat. But for fans of the genre, I think this is an easy recommendation as a beautiful and haunting work of art.