Belladonna is a point and click game with a gothic setting. Leaning heavily on Frankenstien as its inspiration, the devs still somehow managed to step just far enough away from the source material to produce a unique story. Whilst this game is extremely short, there is a fair bit of story crammed in. Belladonna touchs on wide ranging subjects such as love, hate, paranoia, madness, betrayal and philisophical ethics. I enjoyed the short time this game and I spent together, so let’s take a closer look!
The game starts with an unknown dead girl waking up on a slab. She has no memories, although she can speak and read just fine. As the game progresses, the story is revealed, mostly by journal entries scattered about the castle. As the game starts, all you really know is that Wolfram von Trauerschloss has been conducting some unholy experiments in the basement and as created life. As the game continues, we see a slow descent into madness and deep paranoia unfold in the good Doctor, driven by grief over his dead son.
At the same time, we come to know the mistress of the house – the titular Belladonna – and her faithful maid Klara – also through journal entries. The fates of these three people eventually entwine in a violent story of power-driven betrayal. Although the story is brief, there is still time for a plot twist or two as the identity of the dead girl is slowly revealed. The true meaning of life and death is considered, with a state of undeath resting in the hands of the unethical. This eventually raises the question – which is worse, the unethical creator or his twisted creation?
Belladonna is a point and click game, so there’s little to say about the controls here. As you would expect in these game, book to view journal entries and a small inventory. The rest of the game is mostly about clicking on things and hearing what the girl has to say. For the most part, they respond just fine, although I did find working with the inventory could get a bit frustrating.
I love the art style that is used in Belladonna. It manages to convey a sense of high gothic atomsphere, but is also curiously charming. The portayal of the main character is charmingly fey, with delicate limbs and graceful movements. Even the mechanism attached to her head adds to her charm – giving her a child-like innocence. The areas are, for the most part, dark yet don’t feel oppressive. There are only a small number of rooms in the castle, but each feels unique and has it’s own style. My favourite areas are the basement and the bedroom, mostly because of how the light is used in these areas.
The dead girl speaks with a clear, very young voice and I really enjoyed her voice acting. There is another character who’s voice acting was a bit off, but revealing their identity would spoil the story, so I’ll leave you to find that one! The sounds are appropriate and lend to the atmosphere. The music is similar and plays softly in the background building up the gothic atmosphere and adds to the mood. The sound work doesn’t jump to the fore, which is great in a game which relies so heavily on narrative.
Conclusion – Is Belladonna worth buying?
I really enjoyed Belladonna, with all the ethical quandaries it explores. Even though I now know the full story, I think I’ll look it up again sometime as I really enjoyed the way the story was told. Belladonna is a short game, my playthough lasted just 74 minutes, but it feels well rounded. The controls and music were standard for this sort of game, but I really loved the almost whimsical graphics.
I’m a big fan of Frankenstein and I really enjoyed this take on the story. It’s one of those games that stayed with me, posing odd questions as I moved on – much like Gone Home did. As for the price, it is about right for a game of this length. I got my copy in a bundle so it was very cheap, but I think the asking price is pretty fair. Overall, I enjoyed the game and would recommend it, especially if it was on sale.
Belladonna was developed by Neckbolt and published by Black Shell Media. You can grab a copy on Steam for £4.99