LKA, the developer behind harrowing narrative experience The Town of Light, has unveiled its next endeavour: first-person psychological thriller Martha is Dead, which is currently expected to release some time next year.
Like The Town of Light before it, Martha is Dead seeks to ground its narrative (which offers a mix of "history, superstition, and psychological distress", according to LKA) using real locations and events. This time, however, the story unfolds in Tuscany, 1944, as the conflict between German and Allied forces during the second World War wages on.
Following the discovery of a drowned woman in the area, her twin sister - the daughter of a German soldier - is forced to deal with "the acute trauma of loss, while the truth of the brutal murder is shrouded by mysterious folklore and the extreme horror of war draws ever closer."
"Along the way," continues the developer, "she will encounter situations and discover things no one should have to... mortal death was the easy path compared to this one marred by mental and emotional distress which lingers on."
None of which suggests that Martha is Dead will make for a particularly jolly experience, with LKA once again seemingly intent on exploring the kind of difficult subject matter less often tackled in games. The good news is that The Town of Light, which told the unflinching story of a young woman committed to an Italian asylum shortly before World War 2, showed a developer skilled enough to handle such material sensitively and affectingly, even if the interactive side of its debut title sometimes let the side down.
"It's to The Town of Light's credit that it neither comes across as trying to shock, nor ever pulls back from unpleasant or simply uncomfortable scenes," wrote Eurogamer contributor Richard Cobbett in his Recommended review of the game, "It simply presents them, compassionate, but deliberately cold, dehumanising and miserable... There's no conspiracy, no mystery, no oogie-boogie monster in the basement. The Town of Light is simply a slice of history that welcomes you into its halls to share your empathy, without locking the doors behind you."
We'll know if LKA can do its latest story similar justice when Martha is Dead arrives on PC and other, currently unspecified platforms next year.