Game Info:

Vera Blanc: Full Moon
Developed By: Winter Wolves
Published By: Ratalaika Games
Released: November 13, 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Linux, mac OS
Genre: Mystery/Visual Novel
ESRB Rating: Teen (Blood, Use of Tobacco, Violence)
Number of Players: Offline Single-player
Price: $3.99 on Nintendo E-Shop

Thank you to Ratalaika Games for providing us with a review code!

Vera Blanc: Full Moon is an Italian visual novel game originally released for computer and phone operating systems back in 2010. Though there are few reviews of the title after its original release, most comments concerning the game were positive and praised it for its intriguing story. After 10 years, Ratalaika Games ported and published it for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and released it in November 2020. I played it on the Switch, and while there are important graphics and controls issues that diminish the game’s polish and professionalism, I mostly enjoyed the minigames throughout and the supernatural central mystery at hand.

Evident from the title screen onward is the comic book inspired art style, which creates a retro feel indicative of comics of the Silver Age (1950-1970). The cover art advertisement for online stores is misleading though. The game’s art is definitely good, but it is not as polished as the cover art piece would have you believe; the werewolf on the in-game title screen is more crudely drawn, as are the depictions of the two main characters, Vera Blanc and Brandon Mackey. Some panels are less visually appealing than others, but honestly the comic book aesthetic works so well to tell the story that I really wasn’t bothered for long.

The game opens with an optional introduction that details Vera Blanc’s backstory. It’s worth checking out on your first playthrough and really drives home the story’s roots in superhero comic book mythos. At 14 years of age, Vera develops brain cancer. Her father is rich and pays for the best doctors to try and cure her through any means possible. Somehow during this process her brain levels up and she develops the ability to read other people’s thoughts. Of course, like any good superhero, she wants to use her powers for good. The rest of the story takes place years later when Vera is a young woman. She meets a private detective, Brandon Mackey, and they attempt to solve a mystery surrounding a series of murders in the German town of Wolfach. Turns out there might be a werewolf in Wolfach that’s killing people because that’s what werewolves do.

Vera Blanc: Full Moon

Strong Points: Nostalgic comic book art style; engaging mystery to solve; strong game navigation tools; simple but effective minigames
Weak Points: Some controls not tailored to consoles; inconsistent panel art; some internal narrative spoilers
Moral Warnings: Blood; consistent sexualization of female characters; some crude language and smoking

Before you play through the game you’ll have the option to enable minigames or keep it a strictly text-based experience. I would recommend the minigames. They ramp up the pressure during crucial story moments and add some fun diversion from reading through text blocks. The minigames are all simple mind exercises you might find in a puzzle magazine; variations on Hangman, Concentration, and Spot the Difference are here for your enjoyment. Once you’ve decided to continue with/without minigames, the story picks up at a train station as Vera and Brandon prepare to go to Wolfach. The first few minutes of play will acquaint you with playing as Vera, the importance of her mind reading ability (the Hangman equivalent), and give you your first few choices to make. Sometimes you can make more than one choice from a given set of options, other times you’ll only get one choice before the story moves forward. It’s up to you to work with Brandon and solve the mystery surrounding the killer werewolf.

Since Vera Blanc: Full Moon is a visual novel game there aren’t complex controls, but I did encounter a few controls related issues. Scrolling through options on the vertical axis was never much of an issue, but horizontally there were times the visual layout of objects on screen and their highlighted order didn’t seem to match. When you reach Wolfach, each location in the town that you can visit is represented on an overview map by a magnification bubble. These locations are scattered in a haphazard fashion across the town, which makes sense, but trying to get to a specific one using the analog stick or D-pad can be a real hassle. In another instance, during a fun minigame that’s like a timed version of Concentration, my quick matching movements (the timer is pretty tight here) often resulted in me accidentally selecting the “Give Up” option, which essentially triggers a death screen. Overall, I could tell these sections with tricky controls were originally designed with cursor or touch selection abilities in mind, but that doesn’t help a console player.

I do want to commend Vera Blanc: Full Moon on its story navigation options though. The game offers the ability to back up panel by panel or skip forward to a certain place in the narrative. For those wanting to try again after they’ve died prematurely, this is an excellent option and I used it several times. The navigation options are also great for reviewers like me who want to access different parts of the story quickly, and they are great for explorers who want to experiment with different story paths to see which choices trigger which outcomes. Six different save slots can be accessed easily by pressing the + button on a Joy-Con or a controller, and you can also check your navigation and sound preferences here as well. With regards to sound, none of the music pieces or sound effects are noticeably good or bad, but there are some sections of the story with complete silence where it feels like at least some background music should be.

Vera Blanc: Full Moon
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay – 16/20
Graphics – 8/10
Sound – 8/10
Stability – 5/5
Controls – 4/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence – 6/10
Language – 8.5/10
Sexual Content – 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural – 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 7/10

The story of the werewolf of Wolfach dives into a fun, hardboiled detective novel setting and it is definitely a story worth experiencing. There are some decent twists and turns and no matter which of the two endings you end up seeing (there’s a third if you’re lazy), the game lightly elevates its source material to avoid typical monster horror tropes. There’s definitely one ending that is better than the other two in my opinion. The first ending I achieved I found pretty unsatisfying so I immediately loaded an earlier save and tried again. One annoying feature concerning the story happened a few times when I died. After each death there is a brisk detailing of what happens to certain characters as a result of Vera’s demise. A few of these summaries actually ruin certain story surprises later in the game which is a shame. Sure, they do help you make better decisions when you try again, but it comes at the cost of some significant spoilers.

There is also a major MacGuffin device in this story that I desperately wished was not one. For those unfamiliar with this term, a MacGuffin is an object or event that occurs at a key moment in the plot to push the story forward but quickly becomes irrelevant afterward. Let’s just say there are a few characters that seem incredibly important to more than one moment of Vera Blanc’s story that are ditched by the game’s end. I double checked online to make sure I wasn’t simply missing an ending, but unfortunately that was not the case. There is a sequel to this game called Vera Blanc: Ghost in the Castle, which was originally released a few months after the first one back in 2010. I’m not sure if there are more answers to be found in that game or if Ratalaika Games will eventually port it for consoles as well, but I do think it was a wasted opportunity that these mysterious characters were not explored further here.

Vera Blanc is a comic book heroine, which comes with its share of ups and downs. She’s a beautiful woman and doesn't need to apologize for that, but it’s a little bit ridiculous the number of plot contrivances that rely on her wearing next to nothing or finding herself in the cold Wolfach weather with only a nightgown on. Throughout the game Vera is seen dressed in many skimpy outfits that show cleavage. Her title screen nightgown is see-through at the bottom and her underwear is visible. There is a panel that shows Vera showering and a panel that shows her purposely dropping her towel after a bath to intimidate another woman. Though the first panel is sexually drawn, there is nothing explicit in either. A dialogue option will ask Brandon to sleep in the same bed with Vera, but it is optional and even if chosen nothing really comes of the proposition. There is one crude reference to a character having “balls of steel”, one instance of smoking, and there are several panels where dripping blood is visible. It is worth mentioning that some time after its original release, Vera Blanc: Full Moon and its sequel Vera Blanc: Ghost in the Castle were both banned from the Google Play Store for certain images deemed too sexual.

For those mature enough to handle the moral concerns I would definitely recommend Vera Blanc: Full Moon. Although lacking some refinement to really improve its mainstream success, the game is a breezy 4 or 5 hours long with mini-games and probably 2 or 3 without. Currently it’s $3.99 on the Nintendo E-Shop, and apparently on other consoles it’s a pretty easy 100% completion opportunity. Whisk yourself wistfully away to the weird world of the werewolf of Wolfach and well… enjoy your stay.

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William Miracle

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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