Exotic trips to Africa for a spot of elephant hunting. Lavish parties were the dress code includes Nazi uniforms. At first glance the life of royalty is an easy one. Having recently played Hanako Games’ Long Live the Queen, I have however acquired some newfound respect for the monarchy. If this title is to be believed wearing a crown on your head is a perilous existence fraught with danger.
Long Live the Queen stars fourteen-year-old Princess Elodie who is set to become the Novan Empire’s queen, in forty weeks time, after the passing of her mother. Players need to ensure that Elodie survives long enough to reach the coronation date, which is easier said than done because EloDIE lives up to her name. With foreign nations threatening war, assassins waiting for the right moment to poison your candy and rival aristocrats plotting to usurp the throne it is safe to say that Elodie’s existence is as fragile as that of an Xbox 360 whose warranty has just expired.
A good chunk of the game revolves around picking Elodie’s weekly curriculum of studies. The classes you choose for her to attend will raise her proficiency in said field, which will determine her success or failure during key story events. If you aspire for Elodie to be a diplomatic ruler you could for example get her to study up on flattery, public speaking and composure. If you are the warlord type who prefers using force you could however get Elodie to learn military strategy, offensive magic and the use of weapons. How quickly Elodie learns a subject is dependent on her mood, which can be tweaked by selecting what she does over a weekend. Playing with her toys for example makes her more cheerful whilst forcing her to visit the castle’s tombs will make her feel afraid.
Gameplay wise Long Live the Queen feels like a visual novel. As the nation’s leader you’ll routinely be asked to make decisions on matters such as the kingdom’s tax rate, foreign affairs and how to punish criminals who are brought to the court’s attention. It’s fun seeing the consequences of your actions, although be wary of what you pick to do as one wrong move can signal a swift game over. Challenging a rude upstart to a duel will end in tears if your sword skill is low for example. Even something as innocent as choosing to attend a friend’s ball can turn sour should bandits ambush your carriage during the commute to the party. See, it’s things like that that discourage me from ever leaving the house.
My rating for Long Live the Queen would be three stars out of five. I had fun playing through the story as it is unlike most games on the market. I would best describe it as a simpler version of the Princess Maker games, which most Western players are unlikely to have sampled given that the franchise has not been released outside of Japan. Speaking of Japan the game’s visuals feel like they are emulating an anime with Elodie sporting bright pink hair and a magical girl outfit that wouldn’t look out of place in Sailor Moon. The artwork on show isn’t spectacular, but it gets the job done and looks more polished than some of the other titles in the Hanako Games library.
Despite enjoying the game I cannot give it a higher score as the story is fairly linear with your choices not having a huge impact on where the narrative goes. The game is also fairly short and can be bested in just under an hour (although you’ll probably need multiple playthroughs to suss out how to avoid dying via a process of trial and error.) Still there is some replay value to be had, as there are multiple endings to unlock along with achievements to earn, which will encourage players to explore all of the game’s content. Not bad for an indie title that costs around eight quid. Given that it’s available to purchase on Steam you might even be able to pick it up for cheaper if you are fortunate enough to catch it during their generous sales.