What is Martha is dead? Three words neither Batman nor Superman ever want to hear. I’m sorry but I feel the need to open this review with a joke as it gets pretty dark from here. Martha is Dead spins a torturous tale of psychological horror that centers on the tragic death of a young woman and the ensuing mental and emotional torment endured by her surviving twin sister, all set against the backdrop of one of the most harrowing times in human history. history. WWII. This feel-bad romp takes you on a journey through a small but carefully crafted slice of Italian countryside and into body horror-heavy nightmares not for the squeamish. It’s an exciting and at times gruesome five-hour journey, but one that left me feeling a little more perplexed than disturbed by the time I reached the end.
After discovering that the body of her identical twin Martha has drowned in a lake near her childhood home, Giulia accidentally assumes her sister’s identity when her grieving mother mistakes her for the wrong sibling. Knowing that Martha has always been the favorite child, Giulia fails to clear up the confusion and instead pretends to be Martha as she investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding her sister’s death. It’s the combined stress of living in a lie and uncovering the disturbing details surrounding the demise of the real Martha that drags Gulia into the depths of madness, turning her into an increasingly unreliable narrator and inflicting a harrowing ordeal if her real disturbing dreams become blurred from her sad reality.
Unraveling the mystery surrounding Martha’s death depends largely on going to specific spots around the family estate, taking pictures with a vintage camera or recovering lost rolls of film, and returning to a darkroom in the basement to record each shot. develop. Giulia’s camera, which can be expanded with additional lenses and flashbulbs, isn’t just an excuse for yet another new in-game photo mode – it also offers the opportunity to get the ominous atmosphere under your skin in subtle ways, with infrared film revealing hidden messages and demonic moans and whispers that seep in from the wooded area, as your peripheral vision is obscured by the boundaries of the camera’s viewfinder.
Manipulating the camera’s aperture setting and carefully completing the steps to process film gives you the most practical freedom in Martha is Dead, since almost every other story purpose of the strict variety is to go here and get that one. collect. An optional task that allowed me to decipher a telegraph message sent via Morse code was the only stimulating exception, and I wish there were a few more puzzle-solving sections along the way so I could feel a little more involved in the investigative side of things. But while there may not have been much of a need to analyze every inch of its surroundings, I appreciated the work done to enhance the 1944 setting, such as the daily newspapers and ambient radio broadcasts detailing the horrors unfolding across Europe. were described.
Listening to news from the front lines of World War II is one of the least troubling experiences in Martha is Dead, however, as many of the story chapters are punctuated by creepy interludes that make Heavy Rain’s infamous finger-cutting scene seem as startling as a stubbed toe. Some of these moments are completely passive, such as tripping over the freshly dismembered corpse of a landmine victim in the woods, while others are more interactive – requiring you to manually cut the skin off a particular character’s face using the jagged edge of a chain pendant, for example. These are a few of the relatively mild examples, and Martha is Dead does indeed have some actions disturbing enough to make a Mortal Kombat fighter foul their NetherRealms.
Shocking as these moments may be, in the end I found that they left less of a lasting impression than the peculiar late puppetry sequences that take place on the mechanical stage on Giulia’s bedroom floor. By manipulating her relatives’ puppets, Giulia is able to relive repressed childhood memories, softening the blow of any traumatic act somewhat when played by Giulia’s playful mimicry of her mother and father. Aside from being wonderfully different starting points in a visual sense, these miniature performances brought an invaluable insight into Giulia’s upbringing, which in turn better contextualizes the violent visions she suffers over the course of the Martha is Dead story.
Fencing – Martha is dead
However, other storytelling tricks are less effective, such as the sections that have you running through a series of forked paths marked by contrasting words between which you must choose to finish an unfamiliar sentence, annoyingly forcing you to repeat again. start if you guess wrong. These circuitous detours aren’t the only ingredients in Martha is Dead that feel unnecessary, as is the in-game bike that seems to move only slightly faster than Giulia’s walking speed, despite being noticeably more impractical to steer.
Still, it’s the generally ambiguous nature of Martha is Dead’s stories that most contributed to my feeling somewhat impressed with the outcome, despite being consistently intrigued for most of its journey. As Giulia’s mental state continues to unravel and more victims fall, it becomes increasingly unclear what is a dream and what is reality. Who killed Martha? What exactly is going on? Is this all real? I don’t really have a definitive answer to all of these questions, and while I have no problem with art being open to interpretation, seeing a mystery solved that ultimately seems unsolvable is a little frustrating. I certainly have my suspicions, but it’s like deducing the killer’s identity in a game of Clue, only to triumphantly open the file envelope and let nothing but confetti flow.