Let’s get started on this Martha Is Dead Review.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Martha is Dead?
- 2 Who Makes Martha Is Dead?
- 3 Which Platforms is Martha Is Dead On?
- 4 Is Martha is Dead Scary?
- 5 Martha Is Dead Review Gameplay
- 6 Martha Is Dead Controls
- 7 Some Mini Games That Work and Some That Do Not
- 8 Graphics and Sound
- 9 Who Will Enjoy Playing Martha Is Dead?
- 10 How long is Martha Is Dead?
- 11 Final Thoughts On Martha Is Dead Review
What is Martha is Dead?
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.
This game has a fair amount of controversy around it and it has even been censored on the Playstation version as parts were considered too graphic.
Why the controversy? Well, you play as a character whose father is a German Nazi in the middle of the war, as well as various gore, self-harm, trauma, and abuse scenes. It is very much a deep and dark psychological thriller and will not be for everyone. If you have issues with those topics, this game is not for you, and you should stop reading this review.
Who Makes Martha Is Dead?
Martha Is Dead is made by LKA. They are a small team of indie developers located in Tuscany, Italy. They have previously released a game called The Town Of Light which is also a psychological horror adventure.
Which Platforms is Martha Is Dead On?
Martha Is Dead is available on Steam, Gog, and Epic Games store for PC, PS4/PS5, and Xbox One/Xbox Series X.
Is Martha is Dead Scary?
Yes, Martha is Dead is Scary. Not in the typical jump-scare sense we see all too much today though. There were many moments during Martha is Dead where I truly gasped in horror. There were things the game requires you to do, that you DO NOT WANT to do in the game. There are several moments of truly graphic visual horror that many people will not get past.
Many of the more truly horrific psychological moments of the game happen when you are playing with puppets to try and remember things. The childlike innocence only makes those moments even more horrific and creepier. It is a true psychological horror that will get in your head. Days after finishing, I continue to reflect on the game. It sticks with you.
All serious elements are dealt with respectfully and tastefully and are there for developing the story (although you may not realize it yet), not just a gore ‘shock effect’. They help place you into the character and doing these extreme actions in a game will push your own mental boundaries.
Again, this game will NOT be for everyone. I personally feel exploring these topics respectfully in a video game is a step in the right direction. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of in the dark or cover-up and censor. Much respect to the developers for bringing light to and allowing people to experience the torment of these issues in the safety of a game, that many people experience every day in their real life.
Martha Is Dead Review Gameplay
The first thing you will notice in Martha is Dead is the voice acting is done in Italian with English subtitles. I fully recommend playing the game this way, as the Italian language is beautiful and sets the mood.
You start the game off by taking pictures at a beautiful lake. You quickly notice something – a person – floating in the lake. You rush to save the person only to find out it is your twin sister Martha and she is in fact Dead. You play as the other twin, Giulia, the daughter of a German Commander and soldier.
Martha is Dead is a kind of “Whodunit”. Who killed Martha? Why? Who can you trust? But it goes much deeper than a basic mystery.
Everything is set in 1944, Tuscany Italy, right in the middle of World War II. What is perhaps different about this game than others you may have played is you are on the side of the Axis (Germany, Italy, and Japan). Right from the start of the game, there will be Nazi symbols around the rooms and many other experiences and things you may have strong feelings towards.
You will be able to explore your house and the forest around your house. As you move around, various objectives will unlock. Some of these are optional and some will advance the main story. You get to choose what to focus on, although the game has ways of saying “you can not do that yet” at several points.
As time passes and war approaches, the game combines real-world events, mixed with the supernatural and dream-like elements.
For example, there is a moment when each day starts when you will read a newspaper. The paper will show real World War II stories, mixed with elements of the fictional video game. It sets the mood for the chaos and horror that is war.
In the next breath, you will be seeing and learning about the lady of the lake who drags young women to their death in a rage. The back and forth adds to the tension and horror. Tarot cards also play a strong role in the game, including the loading screen. You can use these cards to tell your fortune each day as well as advance various storylines.
As the story progresses the line between reality and the supernatural gets more and more blurred. What is real? What is a dream? You will need to figure these things out as you play.
Martha Is Dead Controls
The controls in Martha Is Dead are not very complicated. I played this game with a controller. The developers did some interesting things with the controls to make you feel more immersed in the game.
For example when you need to tear something you would hit the RT and then need to push up with the joystick. These directions would be shown on screen. As you make the movement with the controller the item on the screen would rip. It truly feels like you are ripping something.
It leads to an immersive experience when interacting with the environment. There is no real need to memorize anything as most instructions are shown on screen.
Some Mini Games That Work and Some That Do Not
There are several mini-games included like taking and developing photos, dream sequences, traveling on a bike or boat, and using morse code to mix things up.
Without spoilers, I will go over some of these elements here.
Photography That Seems Complicated, But Is Actually Easy and Fun
The photograph part initially seems ridiculous complicated. The game attempts to stay true to using a real camera and gives you all the options, film, and lenses. But as you play the camera parts, it is actually just a matter of turning the knobs until the items on the left side of the screen are all cleared.
Just in case you still were not sure you were doing it right, if you happen to try and take a photo that will not work for advancing the game, you get a pop-up telling you that. So even though it LOOKS complicated, it really is not. As the game progressed I enjoyed taking photos and trying out the different lenses.
The same applies to developing the photos. It seems overwhelming with all the information initially, but once you get into it – You are raising and lowering, zooming in and out, printing, and then pushing X to develop something at the right time. It is not complicated at all, and again is actually a nice break from some of the horror you witness in the game around you.
Dream Sequences of Randomness
At a certain point, you will be running through a dark forest. Words will appear on the screen and you will need to choose which one to run into to make a sentence. This sequence is dark and depressing, but also pretty frustrating.
You are guessing which word and if you guess wrong you will need to repeat the entire sequence. It got kind of annoying and I am not exactly sure what this part adds beyond a different type of mini-game – but one that doesn’t require skill just guessing.
Traveling on Bike and Boat
Eventually, you will be able to travel by bike or boat. I was looking forward to moving faster in the game so was looking forward to this part. Unfortunately, these modes of transportation are really clunky to use. It is pretty hard to steer both of them.
I got the bike completely stuck at one point on a path and could not turn around. Using transportation in this game was a dreaded moment. For a game that had me completely pulled into the character and the game, these awkward controls were the exact opposite, ruining immersion completely.
I will also add to this point that as I reached the end of the game, there were certain storylines that I still was trying to finish, but if I walked into say the woods, the game would just force turn me around. I missed out on story elements without any explanation why I could not go in the woods. It just turns around. I guess I had progressed too far in the main story, but there was no warning. Very frustrating.
If you follow a certain storyline, you will be presented with doing Morse code to send and receive messages. Since most of us likely do not know Morse code, the developers attempted to make this another mini-game.
You will need to pick a message from the code board. It has to be the “right message”, if not you will need to try again. Then you will need to fast press(dot), long press(dash) to send the message. If you make a mistake you will need to re-do the word. You will make mistakes. Although this is pretty realistic, it was mostly just frustrating.
Finally, you will get a message and need to translate it using the bottom portion. It isn’t really explained very well (is it a dot or dash then follow left or right depending). Ultimately I opened a free online morse code translator in another browser window to finish this part off. Grumbling the entire time.
Graphics and Sound
Martha is Dead is a beautiful game. For a smaller indie developer of 10 people(!!!), they went above and beyond creating a beautiful world to explore. The graphics of the Italian countryside are extremely realistic. I truly felt I was exploring the countryside and a small Italian villa.
The sound was a truly impressive part of this game. On top of the beautiful narration in Italian, the game also constantly had the radio playing various Italian songs in the background. Radio war announcements were also frequently heard. I can’t speak highly enough about these two elements. Very well done.
Who Will Enjoy Playing Martha Is Dead?
This game is definitely rated M for Mature. There are extreme topics, gore, sexual themes, dismemberment, language, nudity, violence, self-harm, trauma, and abuse. THIS GAME WILL NOT BE FOR EVERYONE. Martha Is Dead has some of the hardest moments I mentally had to get through in any video game I have ever played. The game makes you do things you will not want to do in the game to continue the story.
This game is extremely beautiful yet extremely dark and graphic. At times, you will have strong emotional feelings playing Martha is Dead and that is what the developer is shooting for. If you are looking for a game that will make you feel many things, and explore horror in a different and dark way, this game is it.
What Games are similar to Martha Is Dead?
This game is similar to Fatal Frame with its use of a camera and Silent Hill with its discussion of serious topics of abuse and mental health. It also reminded me of The Medium with supernatural elements.
How long is Martha Is Dead?
I completed the entire game in about 10 hours. I spent my time exploring everything and doing as many achievements as I could. This game could be played more than once to fully enjoy the story as well.