Check out our review of the brand new indie horror game Martha Is Dead…
Set in WW2 Tuscany, find out why it manages to deliver all the entertainment and spooks you could hope for, without resorting to jump scares. We take a look at then story, visuals, gameplay and more to give you all the info you need to know.
Hey how’s it going guys! This is Tom from UDS, and welcome to our review of Martha Is Dead, a brand new horror game from LKA Games. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know before you play, and if you’re new to the channel, don’t forget to subscribe for more video game content every single week. You’re not going to want to miss it.
2021 was a great year for horror games across the board. From indie titles like Lamentum to triple-A juggernauts like Resident Evil, it’s a good time to be a fan of the spooks.
Looking to keep this good run going into 2022, we have Martha Is Dead. Set in WW2 Tuscany, you play as Gulia, a young woman whose twin sister Martha has mysteriously died, and it’s up to you to find out what’s happened. Naturally, not everything is as it seems, and it won’t be long before your sanity as well as your life are in danger.
Promising to be one of the scariest games of the year, will Martha Is Dead deliver? Watch on to find out…
Well, I can safely say that Martha Is Dead is indeed one of the most bone chilling games I’ve ever played, thanks in no small part to its haunting story and unsettling visuals. I found myself being driven to unravel the mystery just as much out of morbid compulsion as curiosity. Like that feeling when you peek around the corner, even when you know nothing good will be behind it.
And that’s the thing. It builds this sense of dread without resorting to any real jump scares. Instead, it uses tension and familiar themes of family strife, trauma and loss to keep you from ever looking away, even if you might want to. This, along with the horrors of war, are framed with a sort of dark fantasy. Think the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth, where the mystical isn’t used to sugarcoat these unpleasant themes, rather it augments their true terrors.
But when things need to get real, like the proverbial S-H-I-T, they don’t half get real. In fact, one interactive cutscene (which I won’t spoil here) has been censored for the PlayStation releases. Hopefully this gives you a sense of how graphic, wince-inducing, and at times controversial things can get. Player discretion is very much advised.
As for the gameplay itself, at its core, it’s a walking simulator, but I hazard to define it as that. One, because despite being a big fan of the genre personally, it does have negative connotations, and two, because it has a lot more variety and interactivity than the name might suggest.
As you explore your family home and its surrounding land, you’ll find many objects and anomalies can be interacted with, which not only helped me to feel engaged, but also added to the immersion of the world. It stopped me from dissociating from Guilia, making every act and decision, however heinous, feel all the more real.
One of the major features I really enjoyed was the use of photography, both thematically and technically. We quickly learn that Guilia is a keen photographer, and it’s through this that much of her investigations are done. On that technical level, I found it oddly satisfying going through the process of 1940s photography. From setting up your tripod on solid ground, to focusing in on your subject, all the way through to developing your film in the dark room. I’m sure I couldn’t, but part of me feels like I might be able to pick up a vintage camera and get her working now!
But seriously, the use of the camera allows you to take the game at your own pace, and really enjoy the more beautiful elements of the game, which I’ll talk a bit more about when we get to the visuals.
And while these more placid moments allow you to dictate the speed of proceedings, Martha Is Dead knows when to grab the reins and take you for a ride. Things can quickly go from slow and foreboding to fast paced, erratic and disorientating. Like a good horror film, it stops you from ever getting comfortable, either in the quiet moments or relentless horror. It strikes a near perfect balance between the two.
This sense of balance can be found in the visuals too. Particularly for an indie title, this is one absolutely gorgeous game (when it wants to be). The Italian countryside is sumptuous, rich and vibrant, and I’d honestly play a game in which I can just explore it and take photos of birds in front of the Mediterranean backdrop. But of course, we know this is all a facade for the true horror that lies beneath. When it needs to be, this is one of the most sickening titles I’ve ever played. I’m not squeamish, but it made my stomach turn on more than one occasion, and I really think it’s the duality of beauty and brutality that helps to highlight this.
As I said at the top of the video, we’re living in a true golden age of horror gaming, but Martha Is Dead manages to stand out from this prestigious bunch. It combines a unique premise and setting, thoughtful meditation on relatable themes, and some truly chilling, gruesome gameplay, to make for one of the most impressive indie games I’ve played in recent years. Make no mistake, it doesn’t pull any punches and it won’t be for everyone – be prepared to deal with some harrowing material. But for those that are craving an altogether new horror experience, playing it is a no brainer.
But what did you think of Martha Is Dead? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your thoughts. And don’t forget to subscribe for more video game content every single week, or you can always visit upsidedownshark.com to keep up with everything we’ve got going on.
Until then my name is Tom, this has been UDS, and we’ll see you next time.
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