The story of Julia, set against the backdrop of World War II, takes on a completely different tone in the full psychological thriller compared to what we saw in the first half of the game. But first things first.
The game centers around the estate of a wealthy German general, whose daughters live a beautiful rural life under the tutelage of a kind nanny and a strict mother. But one day, the measured and carefree life of the rich children turns into a nightmare. Julia, who enjoys photography, goes for a walk in the woods and notices a lifeless body on the surface of a serene lake. The unidentified drowned girl turns out to be her twin sister Martha. Fearing repercussions from a recent quarrel, Julia decides to pass herself off as her deceased sister, but this choice soon leads her to even more unpleasant consequences…
The authors are quite adept at combining psychological techniques with shocking scenes, most of which were cut out in the console version of the game. And although the developers offer a psychological helpline at the end of the game, what you see evokes a persistent sense of disgust. For example, in one scene, a mother boils her daughter’s favorite dog, forcing her to watch this culinary horror and then eat her best friend. The cut-up face scene you’ve probably already seen.
Shock content aside, Martha is Dead is a traditional walking simulation. You travel along pre-designed routes, collect items, look for interaction points or take photos. Optional missions involve helping guerrillas or taking photos and developing film. The latter is done in as much detail as possible, with a red room, developer, shutter speed and negatives. You also have to set the depth of field, choose the film’s sensitivity and lighting level while you’re shooting. There’s a separate telegraph side-question, asking you to send out and then decipher Morse code. But this rather complex puzzle turned out to be a bust in our case, so we don’t know what effect completing this task would have had on the variability of the game’s story.
Among other activities, daily tarot card divination appear from the second half of the game, which provide clues about solving basic problems. In addition, around the same time, you will be able to use the phone and communicate with the guerrillas or one of the contacts important for the development of the story. You’re also encouraged to take part in a choice ranger via QTE.
As I noted in the preview, graphically Martha is Dead looks modern – with highly detailed environments and well detailed forest and farmyard sections. The game supports ray tracing and other fancy effects. People and animals have nice motion animations. But the forest does not look realistic enough in places. Last year we saw many examples of much livelier environments.