Martha is Dead review: Most disturbing game ever?!

Wired Productions
Wired Productions /

Title: Martha is Dead
Developer: LKA
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed on), PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X(S)
Release Date: February 24, 2022

For the past couple of weeks, I have been hearing a name on repeat: Martha, Martha, Martha! Apparently, she’s dead and they made a game about it. In all seriousness, I kept seeing content creators say that the new indie release, Martha is Dead, is the most disturbing game they’ve ever played. Given that the state of the world right now is at level “burning garbage fire” I figured nothing could shock me and I wanted to get my hands on it. I went in completely blind, watching zero gameplay and reading no reviews except for seeing the “OMG IT’S SO DISTURBING” title cards that flooded my Youtube feed. Is it as disturbing as they say?

Right off the bat, I found out that I was playing a different version than those videos portrayed. Martha is Dead has been released for consoles and PC. Two weeks before its release, Sony deemed some of the content way too disturbing for players and cut the interactive aspect of those scenes, effectively making them cutscenes, which can be skipped altogether for the especially sensitive. While I appreciate the option to cut those moments, I don’t appreciate Sony censoring a game that was released in full by PC and Xbox. One must be able to decide for themselves what constitutes disturbing.


Martha is Dead
Wired Productions /

Martha is Dead follows the character Giulia. Giulia and Martha (identical twins) live in the area of Tuscany in 1944 during WWII. Their dad is a soldier and German sympathizer and their mom is a mean drug addict. While Irene, their mother, is sympathetic and kind to Martha due to her deafness, Irene is cruel to Giulia, blaming her for Martha’s disability. Her father is kind to her but is rarely ever home. One day while collecting her cameras on the lake shore, Giulia sees something in the water. Upon zooming in with her camera, she sees Martha dead in the water wearing her dress. Giulia runs into the water to pull her sister out but it is too late. Mourning over the body of her sister, she puts on Martha’s necklace. Immediately after, her mother comes running to her side and mistakes Giulia for Martha. In her shock, Giulia doesn’t speak and must live with the fact that she has taken her sister’s identity. Living as her sister, she works to try and figure out who killed Martha and why.

One of the “disturbing” moments that Sony messed with occurs early in the game. In a dream sequence, Giulia uses Martha’s necklace charm to cut her sister’s face off and put it on. Sony got rid of the QTE which turns something that is supposed to be intense and emotional and turns it into a cutscene. The dream is symbolic of taking over her sister’s identity and the player’s hand in that. Sony takes away that interaction, therefore disconnecting the player from what is happening. There is another similar sequence later in the game that Sony took away the QTE but they are still available on PC. You have the option of skipping the scene altogether, which is fine but I wish they would have made the interaction optional as well.

Martha is Dead
Wired Productions /

Okay, so aside from the unnecessary censorship, is Martha is Dead any good? Yes, this game is very good but only for a certain audience. Let me explain. I, personally, don’t find the game disturbing…like at all. I find it engaging and very, VERY sad. The most unsettling thing I saw in the game was a room full of Nazi flags. Now THAT made me go WTF?!? Aside from fascist memorabilia, this game is beautiful to look at. The graphics are lovely, specifically the environments. There’s this moment when Giulia walks outside at dawn and the sun is just coming up, so the light is low and it’s foggy. You hear morning birds chirping away and it feels so peaceful even though the subject matter is so dark.

There will be a lot of people that find this game to be very slow. Martha is Dead feels like an old PC game in controls and pacing. Old PC games used to be very narrative heavy with a lot of walking. If anymore walking was involved in this game, Giulia would be traveling with a few hobbits to a volcano. And she walks veeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyy ssssslllllooooooowwwwww. Even when she runs, I can feel my eyes glazing over from the speed, or lack thereof. There is a bike available to go faster from place to place but most of where you walk doesn’t allow the bike so I found myself trudging through the forest like I had on cement shoes, BEGGING her to walk faster.

Speaking of running, anytime I hit a checkpoint and Giulia was running, the entire game would freeze and I would have to close the game and restart. It happened so often that I nearly stopped playing because I never knew when the game would checkpoint. After I talked myself down, I began to recognize when the checkpoints might be and started running in shorter bursts which seemed to fix the problem enough for me to get some progress. While the process worked, it shouldn’t be crashing like that from some simple running on a PS5. All that being said, the story was so engaging that despite the issues, I kept coming back. I kept thinking of the game during the day wanting to play it to find out more from the story. It’s not a long game  (although the walking makes it feel like it is) but is just long enough for the story to hit well and not overstay its welcome.

One of the most important game mechanics is that of Giulia’s camera. There will be moments that a picture must be take for the sake of a quest, other times it is just for some exposition, but every time the camera is used, it’s enjoyable. As the game moves along, you pick up new types of film and filters to take pictures in different environments. It’s so much fun to tinker with the different attachments that sometimes, I forgot it was a part of a quest. Once you take the picture, you take the film to the darkroom for developing. Even though the process is simplified, you get to burn the image onto paper and then develop the image. For those of you that have only lived in the digital time, there is something satisfying about developing film.

For some there will be some disturbing elements in Martha is Dead. There is war, suicide, miscarriage and abuse. Keep that in mind if you do decide to play this game. Overall, I think it is an incredible experience. The audio mixing is lovely, the graphics are eye-catching and the story is sad and so engaging. The controls feel nostalgic for PC players albeit so damn slow. Martha is Dead may not be true horror in my opinion but it’s suspenseful and emotional. This is definitely a thumbs up from me.

Martha is Dead (PS5) Score: 8/10

Even though the game itself looks stunning and sounds beautiful, the movement mechanics are eye-twitchingly slow and there is a game crashing checkpoint bug. While not as disturbing as people claim, the story of Martha is Dead is a punch in the gut for sure.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.