Martha Is Deadis a game that wasn’t really on my radar… until I saw that some scenes were being censored on the PlayStation platform. What better way to capture someone’s attention, right? Whilst I’m sure it wasn’t the developer’s intention to have the game censored, knowing that something was deemed too controversial to be on the PlayStation made me want to play the game. It got me.
With that in mind, I played the uncensored Xbox Series X version to see what sort of horrifying experience I’d be in for with Martha Is Dead. And yeah, it’s f*****g grim. I mean, wow, this game goes to some dark, dark places and it definitely won’t be for everyone. You know what, though? I still enjoyed seeing it through to its conclusion, even if some scenes did leave me squirming.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Martha is Dead puts players in the role of Giulia, who finds her twin sister Martha dead down by a lake. What, didn’t the title give it away? Since her parents can’t actually tell the pair apart (and since they already assumed it was Giulia who died), she decides to play the part of Martha and follow the ruse that it was Giulia who is dead. Martha was already the favourite of the two girls, so why not embrace it? Of course, taking on the role of another is easier said than done, especially since Martha is supposed to be deaf. It doesn’t help that Giulia’s mental health starts to crumble around her, whilst the ongoing effects of World War II are being felt around her hometown. Still, she’s determined to find out what exactly happened to Martha and who it was that caused her death.
I don’t really want to go into too much more detail regarding the story because it is the crux of the whole experience. Naturally, there’s a grander sense of mystery to be found in the game and more clues are revealed as you investigate, but it’s something that’s better for players to discover themselves – especially since so much is attached to the relationship that the characters share with one another.
What I will say though is that the game goes to some very, very, VERY dark places and it might trigger a lot of players. Themes such as mental health, abuse, suicide, self-harm, and more are explored during the game, whilst it takes some dark turns when it comes to violence. Oh, and you know that scene that was censored on the PlayStation? I get it, and it won’t be for everyone.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the narrative though, with it offering more than enough to keep me invested right until the very end. It’s undeniably intense and emotional, with every turn of the tale hooking me in that little bit more; so much so that I actually finished Martha is Dead in one sitting (it’s only around four hours long so it isn’t a big ask). Again, it won’t be for everyone, but its storytelling shows there’s more to the game than just being controversial.
“It’s undeniably intense and emotional, with every turn of the tale hooking me in that little bit more; so much so that I actually finished Martha is Dead in one sitting (it’s only around four hours long so it isn’t a big ask).”
When it comes to gameplay, players will spend their time exploring their surroundings, interacting with the world, and using their camera to unravel new details to progress the story forward. Players are able to take photographs of their surroundings, with some of these photos completing objectives and others simply offering additional pieces of story to flesh out the experience (there are icons found on objects of significance so you won’t be stuck simply taking photos of everything). You’ll also be involved in the development process of these photographs, with players going through all of the steps in their own darkroom. Admittedly, it’s something that could feel a little tedious over time, but the extra interactivity added an additional sense of believability to the overall experience.
That same sense of interactivity is found across many elements of the game, with even the simplest of tasks demanding the player DO something. Sending a morse code message, developing a photograph, carefully manipulating puppets, riding a bike, cutting off your dead sister’s face (wait, what?) – the game features plenty of moments where the player is expected to perform each input individually, but it doesn’t always necessarily feel fun to do. It offers more for players to do than a lot of other narrative-driven walking sims out there, but sometimes these interactions feel a little hollow and don’t add much to the overall experience.
Still, there are enough moments where the interactivity complements the storytelling for it not to feel like a burden, so I can’t complain too much. I also enjoyed simply exploring the surroundings, with plenty of attention to detail found across the entirety of the game world. The subject matter might be grim, but your home of Tuscany is beautiful; whether it’s when exploring the luscious forests, your old-fashioned home, or the peaceful lake where you found your sister’s body. It’s certainly a visually impressive game, whilst the idyllic home feels like somewhere you’d want to live (but maybe under different circumstances to those found in the game).
Martha Is Dead Review
Martha Is Dead is an intriguing experience that won’t be for everyone, but still managed to hook me in with its engrossing storytelling. Whilst I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the game unsettling, I NEEDED to see how the plot played out and just how dark it could really go. It can be shocking at times, but you know what you’re signing up for before playing.
It doesn’t always hit the mark, especially when it comes to some of the frustrating interactive moments, whilst there were a handful of scenes where it did feel like it went too far for the sake of it. Still, it’s one of the most memorable and unique narratives I encountered in a game for a while, so I won’t be forgetting Martha is Dead anytime soon.
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platform(s): Xbox Series X|S (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC