By Steve Baltimore / February 24th, 2022
|Title||Martha is Dead|
|Release Date||February 24th, 2022|
|Platform||Steam, PlayStation 4 | 5, XBox Series X | S|
It’s been quite a while since I played a true horror game, so when I got a chance to check out the somewhat controversial Martha is Dead I decided to jump on it. I didn’t really know what to expect when I fired this up, but with all of the warnings I expected there would be some extreme content. The big question is does the game deliver a great story with all this madness, and is it any fun to play? Let’s find out!
Our story begins in Italy during World War II. You play as Giulia, who has a twin sister named Martha. Their father is a commander in the German army during this time and they live in a small village in a forest by the lake. One night Giulia makes a horrible discovery: her sister Martha is dead and floating in the lake. The odd thing about this is Martha is dressed in Giulia’s clothing, and since their mother was always kinder to Martha, Giulia just assumes her sister’s identity. They couldn’t tell the girls apart and she figured it would be easier on them to lose the daughter they loved less. This begins to eat away at her very quickly, and she begins to look into what really happened to her sister. Was it the White Lady that haunts the lake that killed her? Was she killed by random soldiers, or maybe even something more sinister? This quest will lead Giulia down a very dark path of discovery that will not only uncover a past she had forgotten about, but maybe even what actually happened to her sister.
I want to be very careful here to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, since uncovering the mystery in Martha is Dead is the crux of the whole experience. The game will give you several warnings about the content contained here, and they aren’t kidding. There are some pretty gruesome and disturbing scenes throughout the game depicting self harm among other things. Some of them are probably over the top, but they do fit the narrative of the story well and the developers did a fantastic job of creating a very unnerving environment throughout the entire game. I think some of the latter story bits were a bit of filler, but for the most part this is a tightly knitted tale of horror and mystery.
Graphically speaking, Martha is Dead looks great. All the areas are richly detailed with many environmental effects to immerse you in the story. Examples of this are the way the team used fog to create a feeling of being lost; using a simple lighter to see within the darkness while feeling helpless; and more. The character models are nicely detailed and the terror-filled scenes you will experience are the same, maybe even a bit too much so in some cases. The way they did the ending sequence of this one was something very unique, but I won’t say anymore cause that is very much spoiler territory, but when you see it you’ll know what I was talking about. I did run into a few technical issues with this one, such as some wonky frame rates due to environments loading in and getting stuck a few times, but I feel like these are things that will be fixed with a patch down the line.
The sound design here is really impressive. The effects team did a good job with the nature sounds to really make the woods in the game come to life. They also took the time to throw in some haunting sounds that really keep the players on edge. Music isn’t always present but when the classical music kicks in it escalates the emotions of the gameplay instantly. The voice acting here is pretty good. I went with the English cast and felt they did an excellent job bringing this terrifying tale to life. If you wanted a more authentic experience you might want to give the Italian audio a go.
The gameplay is for the most part what you would expect from a game of this nature. You will wander around the area in first person picking up items to solve simple quests. This isn’t a bad thing, since the story being told is an interesting one and they do throw a lot of interactive prompts in the mix while you are performing these actions – a big portion being the several pictures you need to take during the game in order to progress the story. Taking pictures isn’t as simple as pointing and clicking – there are many additional camera parts you will find as the game progresses and you will have to adjust things accordingly to get the best picture. Players will have to develop this film as well, but the game makes both of these very straight-forward and it’s a lot of fun to take random photos of the environment with all the different filters. Other interactive elements take place during some the darker scenes in the story and add to the disturbing nature of them quite a bit. The little side details like the daily Tarot Card reading are a nice distraction as well, and I loved the artwork on these cards. There are however some things here I felt needed a bit more work. The entire section where you are sending telegraphs is a mess. The chart they provide you on how to decode the messages, makes little sense and if there is an in-game guide that explained it better I didn’t see it. The other major thing I noticed was riding the bike is very difficult due to it controlling poorly. Both of these things are easy fixes that I hope the developers will address going forward.
Overall, while I felt Martha is Dead was a decent experience, I don’t think it’s for everyone. There are a lot of disturbing themes and images in this one that would certainly turn off some players. While the team did a great job crafting this world and the sound design is top notch, some of the gameplay elements need a bit more polish. That being said, this is still a unique experience that fans of these types of games would likely really enjoy. You can complete the game in around seven hours, and the game will set you back $29.99. I don’t think I will be taking another run at this one anytime soon to find some of the collectibles I missed, but folks out there are looking for something very unsettling with a point to all the madness, this might be it.
Game was provided by the publisher.
3D action-adventurehorrormartha is deadWired Productions