The mind…a fabrication of our eternal processing with the reality of time. It holds the key to understanding existence itself and there is still a great deal to be discovered about how our brains work and process information. That same processing can be manipulated, it can be induced to fear within an instant, and Martha Is Dead showcases that to one of the highest degrees in the survival games industry from recent times.
Set in Italy a year before the end of World War II in 1944, you will take on the role of Giulia who has a twin sister aptly named Martha. After finding her sister dead in a myth-ridden lake, she has to learn to deal with the grief of losing her sister, and in her grief…she pretends that she is in fact Martha, her dead sister. From the get-go, it is an experience that keeps you hooked to the entrancing storyline.
Bottom Line Up Front: Martha Is Dead will have you chilled to the bone as your very blood curdles with every petrifying moment that unleashes itself unto you. It will make you feel uncomfortable, it is an experience that every horror fanatic should play at least once.
A War Of The Mind — Gameplay That Keeps You Enthralled
My first few hours of the game were filled with great emotional thought, there are so many avenues that could be discussed about the themes of the game, in terms of the wartime setting, vintage radio messages help to consolidate where you currently are and furthermore scattered newspaper readings throughout the experience are excellent sidepieces that certainly kept me interested in trying to search for every last scrap of detailed information and interactable I could find.
You will be taking a lot of photographs throughout your time playing and it is one of the core mechanics that the game appears to pride itself upon and rightly so.
The process of capturing pictures is a joy and extremely authentic. It’s definitely one of the most realistic photography experiences I’ve had within a game! Whether that be through adjusting exposure or focus all through a virtual camera. There are even camera skins for you to unlock throughout the game.
Going to the darkroom to prepare the pictures is equally as satisfying. Notably, the pictures that you take with your camera will range from idyllic country settings with birds fluttering by to graphic and visceral images. The psychological horror elements that are plunged into the player’s minds are deep and cutting.
The PlayStation version was censored with a few scenes toned down on their interactive nature, and there is an option at the start to completely skip the scenes in question. However, I felt that these scenes brought the true horror of the human mind into fruition and is one aspect that shouldn’t be skipped if you want to experience some of the most chilling moments in gaming from recent history, those of which I will not spoil here.
The authentic Italian voice acting keeps the experience grounded perfectly in its setting and the cutaways to various other horror-Esque segments keep things truly fresh and exciting throughout.
I constantly found myself looking forward to these cutaway segments, usually in the form of Giulia’s dreams, for myself to feel my heart beating precariously as I ventured through the highest echelons of fear.
A Story That Plunges Into Your Heart Awaits
Throughout the game, the narrative draws everything together and the story is both diverse and grounded enough that it successfully captures the psychological horror elements to an extreme degree.
Whether you are following along with the main story feats or completing side activities and searching for hidden narratives, there is always something to discover which made my playthrough even more enjoyable.
For example, Giulia has a diary that you don’t have to read, but if you do, you will get an even deeper understanding of her mental processes and it kept me coming back for more time and time again. The drawings throughout are also excellent!
The main story objectives create a superb game flow for players and along with this the side quests are great if you choose to seek them out and complete them, along with this, aspects such as ‘Tarot Cards’ that allow you to communicate with the White Lady and these myths keep the game exciting. There are also hidden agendas and objectives that the player can search for and find for themselves throughout the experience.
Trauma is personified time and time again in Martha is Dead and truly makes you feel at unease as you play through the game, that is an aspect that deserves great praise.
Immersion Through The Depths Of Fear
With the true-to-life realistic graphics and visuals, the game had a tighter clutch on immersing me within its haunting and trauma-filled world for Giulia. The music and sound design equally play a part in this immersion with a soundtrack featuring works by the Town of Light composer and classic re-imagined real-world tracks from the era among many other musical pieces.
The immersion at times can feel a little drawn back unfortunately and this is only down to some of the U.I and interactions throughout the game. I found the inventory screen (although it looks nice) to be a little fiddly at times to go through and search for what I was looking for at that moment.
Other than that, the U.I does a great job at keeping players on track and everything is stylized appropriate to the time period. The in-game map I had thoroughly enjoyed looking at as there is commonly no big ‘GO TO THIS BIG RED ARROW’ markers shouting at the player, most of the time you will have to make your own directions to the place you are going to.
User Experience was also a clear focus for the developers with the options menu offering numerous gameplay aspects to be altered to fit what you are looking for. This same user experience research can be evidenced throughout your time spent within the experience. The Dualsense adaptive triggers are also used effectively for interacting with objects in the game.
An Ending To See Again
The ending will leave the player longing for more and it’s this element that will have you no doubt wanting to venture through the entire game. The experience has a great replayability value due to its vast array of side quests and mysteries on offer, some of which you may have missed during your first playthrough. If you are wanting to truly see everything the game has, then a second playthrough will be sure to allow you that luxury.
Along with this, there are numerous trophies to collect with the game and many of these will keep you striving to take many pictures. I found myself utilizing the camera a whole bunch of times when it wasn’t even needed for the story due to the fact I knew how many trophies were related to taking pictures.
Alternatives To Martha Is Dead
If you have been enjoying playing through Martha Is Dead or simply like what you’ve heard of the game through this Martha Is Dead Review, then there are also some great alternatives that you could play along with the experience, some of these are:
- The Town of Light
- Blair Witch
- Layers of Fear
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Here’s a complete list of games we have reviewed and evaluated.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question: How Long Does It Take To Complete The Main Story
Answer: It takes around 6-7 compelling hours to complete the main story.
Question: How Many Trophies are There to Collect? Is There a Platinum Trophy?
Answer: There are 23 trophies to collect including a Platinum Trophy! These trophies will involve you photographing a lot of things within the game and some trophies are tailored to interacting with many objects and ‘collectibles’ throughout the experience. One trophy, in particular, will have you reading through every newspaper article. As a hint for your playthrough when starting, if you want to collect some of the more time-consuming trophies, be sure to read every diary page throughout the game and develop at least 10 non-story photos.
Question: Do The Censored Scenes Hold The Experience Back
Answer: In my view, I would’ve liked to interact with one particular censored scene to experience the full true horror of that scene. Those who play the game will understand what scene I am talking about. Although it did not hold the experience back for me, I still felt the sheer terror from merely watching the scene.
This is the case with all of the censored scenes, it would be nice to have the option there, but nonetheless, they are still extremely effective ad emotional scenes that delve into traumatic psychology to a great degree.
A chilling masterpiece in storytelling and effective fear-inducing strategies. The narrative of Martha is Dead will keep you hooked with photography being one of its prime mechanics that will have you even likely wanting to develop photos in a darkroom in real life!
Ultimately, the game is mesmerizing in its visuals however at times the gameplay can feel a little fiddly if you are looking through your inventory or trying to position your camera in a way to interact with an object.
The horror segments are masterclasses in expressing what true fear can be found from…the mind. Some moments in the game had me in a full state of unease which is rare and no doubt I’ll be playing through the game again to find anything that I missed.
Martha is Dead is a must-have experience for horror fanatics and for those who enjoy games focusing on authentic historical accuracy. Take a plunge into the depths of your fear this Spring.
Martha is Dead Rating — 9/10