Game: Vera Blanc: Full Moon
Genre: Adventure | Simulation |Role-Playing
System: Nintendo Switch (also on all formats)
Developer |Publisher: Winter Wolves Games | Ratalaika Games
Age Rating: EU 12+| USA Teen
Price: EU €4,99 | USD $4.99 | UK £4.99
Release Date: November 13th, 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to Ratalaika Games
To start off, I am thankful for writer R.L. Stine. His full name is Robert Lawrence Stine. I completely realize this is an odd opener and seems irrelevant, yes?
Let me briefly explain its importance to this review.
Reader Beware, You Choose the Scare!? That’s Bonkers!
In the 90s, Stine’s Goosebumps books from publisher Scholastic were quite the craze, eventually becoming a live-action TV show that I of course consumed as well. Then R.L. tweaked his Goosebumps writing formula with his Escape from the Carnival of Horrors which hit shelves in 1995. It was the original book of Stine’s Give Yourself Goosebumps (a.k.a. Choose Your Own Adventure) series. That life-changing book lead to hunting libraries, bookstores, garage sales, and flea markets for the classic Choose Your Adventure tomes and upon learning of their existence, tabletop roleplaying, playing card games, along with visual novels. You know, like Dungeons & Dragons, Yugi-Oh!, and Phoenix Wright.
Furthermore, personally, Choose Your Own Adventure books generated a whole new kind of immersive experience regular reading lacked by design. For clarification’s sake, I don’t mean to throw shade nor bash regular reading in the slightest. Each are simply different: being different doesn’t denote one’s bad or the other’s better at all.
In short, author R.L. Stine impacted my life significantly in the past and that lingers into the present. But why bring it up at the start of this review? Well, this same feeling of analytic freedom that R.L. Stine’s Reader Beware, You Choose the Scare! had is present in Vera Blanc: Full Moon as well.
But I’ve done enough reminiscing now. Let’s get this review genuinely started shall we?
To begin, the 63 MB Vera Blanc: Full Moon is a mystery visual novel that has mini-games throughout the investigation. Unless one turns them off from the inception of the game. I don’t advise it because dismissing the mini-games altogether removes the illusion of verisimilitude and emotion Full Moon is trying to exhibit. However, as much as I adore Capcom’s Phoenix Wright franchise, those games boast puzzles in them to shatter the otherwise monotonous gameplay formula, much like Vera Blanc does. Also, like Vera Blanc: Full Moon, they are better tailored towards shorter sessions, not full playthroughs in one sitting.
The back button feature is essentially a rewind time mechanic. Players can use this at virtually anytime. Sometimes the seemingly most milquetoast choice might create a key to unlocking the case further along. For instance, upon losing a mini-game or steering a text conversation into a narrative dead end for Vera are a couple of worthwhile choices.
Now you’re thinking “How do I know what you were thinking…”
Vera Blanc’s mini-games are timed challenges, Spot the Differences, and playing Wheel of Hangman. Fine, there’s no hangman, but Vera does get three tries to figure out someone’s thoughts via her telepathy (explained more below) by selecting from the letters above their head. Failing usually haunts the player moments after.
My most loathed mini-game involved memorizing a series of numbers as someone chases Vera Blanc. Since I kept inverting them. Hence why I kept losing repeatedly until I grabbed a piece of paper to scrawl those pesky numbers down.
An Intriguing Story Hampered By Dull Characters
Futhermore, telepathy, larger memory capacity, and fast learning were gifts Vera Blanc gained following a miracle regarding her terminal brain cancer. Vera grew up wealthy thanks to her rich father Emmanuel Blanc. After surviving, Vera decides that her newfound second chance at life shouldn’t be squandered. Enter accompanying FBI veteran now a private detective Brandon Mackey on a murder case. What? The victim may have been killed by a werewolf?!
Alas my intial excitement waned as the characters inhabiting the yarn were revealed. Minus Vera, almost no one else is distinct enough to stand out concerning their backstory, personality, and design. Ugh, why must they be, well, so boring? Even Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and the recent Murder By Numbers willingly embraced absurdities. Versus whatever Vera Blanc: Full Moon is attempting to exactly do.
Y’all will read lots of puns instead though. I hope that’s cool. Oh, I forgot to mention, opportunities for gratuitous nudity starring Vera Blanc too. *Sighs heavily*
All in all, Vera’s okay, as the main character. Mackey irks me. I just wish other stronger characters were present in the final overall package within a mystery that held my interest.
The twists and turns of the tale made me keep going. Unfortunately, the mystery element fizzles towards the conclusion. …Oh, that’s seriously it? Certain narrative threads remained unresolved.
However, they could be in one of the different endings? Maybe the Vera Blanc sequel, The Ghost in the Castle? I must confess that I only did one playthrough as of this review.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure