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Parents' Guide to

Martha Is Dead

By Joey Thurmond, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Horror mystery is disturbingly graphic with sexual themes.

Martha is Dead Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

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While this mystery looks amazing, it's gameplay and story is anything but. Martha Is Dead makes a stunning first impression with its graphics. The Italian setting is lovingly crafted to emulate its time period with mid-1900s architecture and artifacts. Players not only control handheld film cameras, telegraphs, and rotary phones, but also are informed of how this technology worked in that era. There's a commendable attention to authentic detail and atmosphere, but beyond the presentation, problems arise everywhere else. It's packed with simple fetch quests that involve little to no critical thought. Puzzles are stumbled through with ease rather than actively solved. Players take and process photos with elaborate processes, which is admirable in its realism, yet remains more like a chore than a clever or fun part of gameplay to solve mysteries and lean into the horror. In fact, Martha Is Dead has no frighteningly good scares or tension despite its promising setup, instead relying on gory imagery and distressing themes for unnecessary shock value that doesn't meaningfully contribute to the story's professed themes and purpose.

If the characters and plot were engaging, the gameplay issues could be overlooked, but Martha Is Dead ranges from erratic to droning in pacing. Lengthy, awkward animation characterizes cutscenes and player actions, along with painfully slow (and sometimes unskippable) monologues and dialogue to sit through. The story is hard to follow, with a main character who drastically shifts in her motives and moods randomly, and while this attempts to capture dissociative identity disorder through play, this intention falls apart with a story where truth and reality are impossible to discern with issues that can't just be chalked up to an exaggeration of the main character's condition. Here lies a bleak, meandering tale with a frustrating lack of focus. Martha Is Dead may look impressive, but its promise is buried in boring gameplay and a confused story.

Game Details

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