It's interesting how Interactive Storytelling games have evolved since the days of the forerunner Dear Esther, which by today's standards seems pretty outdated. Certainly most of them are not going to be remembered for years to come for their groundbreaking gameplay that keeps you on your toes (one could even argue that player interaction with their environments is usually minimal). But they mostly accomplish to deliver strong stories that communicate a diverse canvas of emotions. In the genre representatives of recent years we have seen elements from other categories (e.g. stealth in the monumental SOMA or puzzles in Moons of Madness, etc.). So the time has come for Italian developers from LKA, 6 years after The Town of Light, to show us in Martha Is Dead the experience they gained, and perhaps most importantly, to plunge us into gloom again.

Martha Is Dead is set in 1944, in the province of Tuscany, just before the climax of World War II (the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that started a few days ago goes to show that we have not learned anything from our previous mistakes). Two twin sisters, Martha and Giulia, go to the lake near their residence early on one summer morning to take pictures of the scenery. While Giulia sets up her camera, she sees a woman floating unconscious on the surface of the water. Looking closer, she realizes in terror that it is her sister. Without hesitating, she dives into the water to help her. When he pulls her to shore, she finds that Martha is dead. Meanwhile, the girls' parents, who had not been aware of their morning excursion, arrive worried in search of their daughters. They assume that the daughter who survived is Martha, and thus Giulia adopts her sister's identity, realizing that the fondness they had of her would crush them emotionally, if they learned the truth.

At our sister's wake...

In this period drama, psychological horror is intertwined with local folklore and the mystery of solving the murder of the unfortunate girl. Appearances can be deceiving and at some point the line between reality and fiction begins to blur. Martha Is Dead deals with heavy subject matter such as abuse, self-harm, mental health and more. Even though the story's ending can be predictable for players with experience in games with similar themes, the whole experience is still disturbing for the unsupecting player. The title is not considered horror in the traditional sense, since as mentioned before, it is psychological in nature and aims to make us uncomfortable, rather than scare us with tangible threats, and achieves that to a certain extent. There are some gory scenes, but having seen more repulsive stuff in the past, their censorship in the PlayStation 5 version is deemed rather hyberbolic.

Some surreal scenes are be expected in the game.

The gameplay is not straying from the usual standards of the genre. Perhaps the use of the camera to take photos suggested some interesting set pieces, but for the most part it's an underutilized idea. It's a shame, because it really could have been used as a key mechanism for finding clues and solving puzzles (which, with a couple of exceptions, can only euphemistically be considered as such). The core of the gameplay remains navigating the estate and its surrounding areas and locating objectives, a process that regrettably doesn't require much effort. Occasionally the use of different filters, camera settings, etc. leads to the appearance of details not visible to the naked eye, but this is done occasionally and there is plenty of guidance, which takes away from the sense of involvement in the great mystery of solving our sister's murder.

Evening excursions... What answers await us in the forest?

The narrative is told through the protagonist's monologues as well as indirectly through the radio and newspapers, which are her anchors in reality, since they are sources of information about the events of the war. Overall the presentation of Martha Is Dead is quite good. The Italian voice-over is highly recommended, as even if you don't know the language, it adds points of authenticity and immerse us better in the story. As for the visual aspect of the game, there is some beautiful work done especially in the environments. The textures are quite detailed and navigating our way through the scenery both during the morning hours and at night are unique experiences. If anything, this is some of the finest visuals on Unreal Engine 4, which can be admired to the fullest on a relatively modern system.

The visuals are one of the game's strongest aspects.

Martha Is Dead is not something we have not seen before. It has heavy themes steeped in the darkness of the human psyche. Although it makes some small steps forward compared to the developers' previous game, they are not enough to make it stand toe to toe with the top representatives of the genre. The camera in particular could have been used to add more depth to the gameplay and integrated more organically into the narrative. As it stands, it is recommended to the exploration game audience and, tentatively, to horror game aficionados.

RATING - 72%


In contrast to the sunny Tuscan countryside, Martha Is Dead is a melancholic drama with few bright aspects, but it adheres to the norms of interactive storytelling games more that we would like.

Παναγιώτης Μητράκης

As a kid of the 80's, he began his journey into gaming with coin-ops and the classic Game Boy. He found some respite with his beloved SNES and got into PC gaming in 1998, with landmark games like Half-Life and Baldur's Gate. He doesn't steer clear of (almost) any genre but has a predilection for RPGs and survival horror and tries to introduce others to Silent Hill, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the creations of Looking Glass and Obsidian.


  1. [QUOTE=”kara, post: 593405, member: 102802″]
    Don’t tell Superman or Batman.


  2. Θα έλεγα ωραία αρχή σεναρίου όπως περιγράφεται στη 2η παράγραφο, αλλά σας λέω ότι δεν υπάρχει περίπτωση οι άμεσοι συγγενείς (γονείς και άλλα αδέρφια) μιας οικογένειας να μπερδεύουν δίδυμα αδέρφια. Το λέω επειδή έχω δίδυμα αδέρφια στην οικογένεια. Και όχι μόνο αυτό, αλλά αναγνωρίζονται και μόνο απ’ τη φωνή (χωρίς να χρειάζεται να τους δούμε).

  3. [QUOTE=”maximum armor, post: 593439, member: 104076″]
    Θα έλεγα ωραία αρχή σεναρίου όπως περιγράφεται στη 2η παράγραφο, αλλά σας λέω ότι δεν υπάρχει περίπτωση οι άμεσοι συγγενείς (γονείς και άλλα αδέρφια) μιας οικογένειας να μπερδεύουν δίδυμα αδέρφια. Το λέω επειδή έχω δίδυμα αδέρφια στην οικογένεια. Και όχι μόνο αυτό, αλλά αναγνωρίζονται και μόνο απ’ τη φωνή (χωρίς να χρειάζεται να τους δούμε).
    Ομοζυγωτικά δίδυμα?
    ακόμα και αυτά βέβαια δεν είναι απολύτως ίδια, εδώ έχουν διαφορές ακόμα και στο DNA λόγο μεταλλάξεων στην διάρκεια της ζωής τους.[B][/B]

  4. Ξεφευγω; Ισως αλλα ισως να θελω να υπερασπιστω αυτο το παιχνιδι που μου εκανε κλικ και θα ηθελα να το δω στην οθονη μου.
    εγω εχω την απορια πως τα ξεχωριζουν οταν ειναι μωρα.
    Μηπως με αυτο τον τροπο;

  5. Μα δεν κατηγόρησα το παιχνίδι! Απλά θα μπορούσαν να βάλουν άλλο συγγενή που να μη τις αναγνώριζε, όχι τους γονείς τους! Αλλά βέβαια αυτό (αν ήταν άλλος συγγενής) δεν ξέρω κατά πόσο θα είχε το ίδιο δραματουργικό αποτέλεσμα με το να είναι οι γονείς τους.
    Και πράγματι, μικρά είναι πιο δύσκολο. Μετά, όπως λέει και ο mike299, επέρχονται διαφοροποιήσεις.

  6. [QUOTE=”maximum armor, post: 593538, member: 104076″]
    Μετά, όπως λέει και ο mike299, επέρχονται διαφοροποιήσεις.
    Your mileage may vary.
    Στο σχολείο είχα 2 συμμαθητές δίδυμους που πέρα από το θρανίο που κάθονταν πάντα στις ίδιες θέσεις, δε μπορούσαμε να τους ξεχωρίσουμε. Μέχρι που ένας έκοψε κοντά τα μαλλιά του.
    Στο παιχνίδι επίσης, αυτό με τη φωνή που λες δεν ισχύει, αφού η μία από τις 2 δε μπορούσε να μιλήσει.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button