Long Live The Queen
With the untimely demise of her mother, it falls on the frail shoulders of 14 year old Elodie to ascend the throne. Your only goal is to ensure that the princess makes it to her coronation, but if you think the 40 intervening weeks is going to consist of riding ponies and entertaining suitors you have another thing coming. The kingdom of Nova has a rather high mortality rate for royals and even with your help her future is looking rather bleak.
Beneath the cute, manga exterior of Long Live The Queen beats the cold, calculation heart of a strategy game. The gameplay concept is deceptively simple; you choose a morning and evening class for the princess to attend during the week and an activity to engage in over weekends. Classes increase stat points while activities influence the mood of the princess. There are 14 different class categories; each with three different class options so obviously there is not going to be enough time to study everything.
Scripted events happen every week and how the princess reacts to these depend on your choices and her stats. These events range from very minor to quite major and for your first few playthrough you never know just how important the right stats can be. High reflexes might simply enable the princess to dodge a clumsy maid, but good animal handling might save her life. I won’t ruin the surprise by listing the many ways in which the princess can shuffle her mortal coil, but suffice to say this game is much darker than it looks.
After kicking the bucket you can reload an older save to try and prevent whatever went wrong or start a new game and learn from your mistakes. On my first playthrough I was so focused on turning Elodie into a capable warrior that I completely neglected her royal demeanor and conversation skills. The result was a princess who committed every social faux pas in the book and was woefully unprepared for the political maneuvering of her fellow nobles. You have the option to enable feedback that shows exactly what skill checks Elodie is passing or failing, which is a large help for subsequent playthroughs. I found myself constantly taking notes while playing and referring to these in new playthroughs. Each unforeseen failure made me more determined, but if you are not the type of gamer that enjoys replaying a game it might feel like a grind.
The game has a series of epilogues as well as a “death checklist” that you can refer to which enhances the replay value. The beauty of this game is even if you do manage to successfully guide Elodie to the throne there is always something nagging at the back of your mind. What if you went to a friend’s birthday party instead of cowering in your tower, what is the terrible secret that the achievement list hints at and what would happen if you guide Elodie towards the dark side? I was shocked when, after hours of playing, I checked out the achievement list and saw how much more there was still to discover in the game.
The visuals in the game are very nice, but devoid of animation and rather sparse. There are various outfits to unlock, but you are mostly staring at text and statistics. Once you are hooked, this doesn’t really matter, but some small animations for the activities or key scenes would have been a nice touch. The audio features tunes as diverse as “God Save The Queen” for the title screen to some strains of classic Chopin for your demise. The piano music that plays during gameplay is unobtrusive and soothing making it a perfect fit for the game.
Long Live The Queen is a compelling but relaxing game to play. The story is rather short but has many branches that you can miss completely if you don’t have the right skill sets. As a big fan of titles such as Princes Maker and Monster Rancher which share some traits with Long Live The Queen I enjoyed the game immensely. It is undoubtedly a rather niche title, but before you dismiss it out of hand, I urge you to check out the demo first. You might just be pleasantly surprised by what this game has to offer.