Publisher: Wired Productions
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S&X, PC
Release Date: Feb 24th 2022
There aren’t many ways to tell a story in a more engaging way than through a game. Unlike in a book, film or show, a game allows you to control the camera and even put you in the driver’s seat and effectively connect the dots between cutscenes. Martha is Dead, developed by LKA, is a thriller that doesn’t pull any punches in the midst of taking the player through a journey of pain and psychological trauma.
The game boasts a great level of sound design and music. Each piece of narration is met with a dreary musical overture that feeds into the suspense and mystery of the narrative. There’s a core feature that requires the use of an old camera and it comes with many satisfying and authentic clicks, shifts and snaps when adjusting and using it. All of it comes together to keep you as immersed as possible.
The photography mechanic is a nice feature and it works really well, it’s intricate without being annoying. You can frame up objects in the world that are key to the main quest or you can take pictures of whatever else you like. However, taking the photos isn’t all. Each snap requires you to venture into a darkroom to develop the pictures in order to view them properly. The process is done in two steps that would be time consuming in real life but, LKA made sure to streamline it to avoid any tedium.
The camera also has a range of accessories to discover which allow you to take photos in different lighting and settings. Aside from that, there isn’t much else to the gameplay side of things other than walking. One thing that enhances all of this however, is the haptic feedback. It’s used quite effectively and really adds a lot of weight to every action.
There’s a lot of great moments of discovery to make as the game doesn’t exactly tell you or hint at any collectables or side interactions, it’s all up to you.
Backtracking can feel a little tedious at times only because the layout or certain parts of the world can feel confusing and you move quite slowly even when running. That being said, there is the opportunity to use a bicycle to get around but it’s not available in all chapters. You also, by default, must hold the R2 button to interact with objects in the game but it probably would’ve felt a little bit nicer if it were simply a press.
The story is tragic and eerie but is also very engaging. It can get pretty uncomfortable but it succeeds at what it’s intending to be and the story it’s trying to tell. Obviously, there won’t be any spoilers here as it’s so core to the experience but it very much commits to its tone and delivery.
This game can be very disturbing but it’s all in service of telling an engaging tale that commits to the medium. There’s a slow and satisfying mechanic in the photography system that really opens up the level of exploration that can be achieved. This game won’t be necessarily enjoyed by everyone, as it covers some pretty dark subject matter, but there’s certainly an experience worth exploring for those who are comfortable with the kind of content in Martha is Dead.