Martha is Dead attempts to tackle the huge job of studying and depicting a wide range of terrible situations that will test players. As with any work of art that deals with a topic as complicated and intimate as trauma, it may not appeal to all players, who may find its material more disturbing than fascinating. Martha is Dead is an honest look at how one's circumstances may impact their grasp on reality for those who are able to go through this experience in a way that is equal parts healthy and open-minded.
Martha is Dead is set in 1944 Tuscany, when Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has been deposed and the country is in a condition of rage and death. This psychological horror begins with a haunting recounting of an ancient folktale in which the soul of a slain lady draws the young and heartbroken to her lake before murdering them. Only minutes later does the player take control of Giulia as she photographs said lake, only to discover her twin sister, Martha, dead in the water. Giulia is now charged with determining the truth behind Martha's death, dealing with the aftermath, keeping a lie, and doing so all while Italian antifascists closing in on her German father.
The gameplay focuses on exploration, whether in the Tuscan countryside or in numerous dream sequences and other odd events. LKA, the developer, introduced several fascinating side operations, the most notable of which are photography and picture development. Despite the game's long training section on how to set up the camera, take images, and develop them, doing so is only required a few times. While this makes the times when these mechanics are employed seem stressful and satisfying, it's ultimately unfortunate that such a rich and enjoyable element is underutilized in the main plot.
The primary plot is fantastic, but as previously said, it will be inaccessible to certain players. Murder, familial abuse, gore, paranoia, and impending doom are among the issues explored. Martha is Dead was purposefully meant not to be a horror game, therefore there are no jump scares or other similar cliches, but it is mentally tough, which is by design. All of this has already resulted in PlayStation censoring Martha is Dead, with the major reason being a scene in which the player, in a dream sequence, removes Martha's face and replaces it.
This is a difficult scene to witness, and there are many more throughout Martha is Dead, yet none of them are used for shock value. All of these scenes are well-planned and pertinent to the tale and study of Giulia's mental degradation. Finally, Martha is Dead is a game with basic gameplay that presents a challenging but vital narrative worth playing. That being said, people interested in playing this game should consider doing so on Xbox or PC if feasible, as these systems provide the game in its original format.