“Martha Is Dead” is a first-person psychological thriller developed by LKA, the creators of “The Town of Light”.
The story is set in 1944 Italy during the Italian campaign of World War II, focusing on twin sisters Giulia and Martha, the daughters of a German general. The main plot of the game begins when Giulia finds her sister’s corpse washed up by the lake and must unravel the mystery of what happened to her whilst navigating the challenges of mental trauma, the ongoing military conflict and struggles with her own sanity. I played the uncensored version of the game on the Xbox Series X and it did not disappoint.
Going into this game, I expected that it would be terrifying and difficult to get through because of how scary it seemed from what I had heard about it. I was pleasantly surprised however to find myself deeply invested in the surrounding mystery and story-rich atmosphere that I could engage with through the lens of a 1940 Rolleicord camera. The game still undoubtedly has chillingly eerie moments and truly disturbing gory scenes that aren’t afraid to get graphic but there weren’t quite as many as I thought there would be.
Giulia has a strong love for photography, leading you on a course throughout the game of taking photographs either through prompts or your own desire whilst gathering different camera skins, lenses and other accessories to develop your photos in your very own dark room. I absolutely loved this recurring point of the game and could happily spend ages playing around with the camera settings and working on picture development. There are also other interactive parts of the game such as a puppet theatre where you control the puppets and choose their dialogue to gain a deeper understanding of the story.
You can also do a tarot card divination each day which allows you to interact with the cards to get a reading. This feature allows the player to gain an insight into how Giulia is thinking and feeling about the current situation she’s in based on the inferences she makes on the cards drawn. LKA released a physical tarot card set with the collector’s edition of the game which I would love to get my hands on as I absolutely loved the artwork for these cards!
For me, the only thing that felt like a drawback to my overall experience of the game would be that I encountered a few bugs in regards to lighting and the environment. I often had parts of the game that had broken lighting so everything turned black and I could not progress. However, do not let these issues put you off from playing the game as they could potentially be fixed and could have just been an unlucky situation on my part. I also missed completing an optional quest based around a character called Lapo because I had progressed too far through the main story and was then unable to go back so I would keep this in mind when playing.
Overall, Martha Is Dead is a brilliant game to play for any horror or mystery fan. The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful and the game gives you an abundance of ways to interact with the world that’s being built through the story. LKA have also included the option to skip any of the graphic and potentially triggering scenes which is a very thoughtful addition in regards to the general player experience, allowing a wider audience to freely engage with the game.