The Odd Fun of Long Live the Queen

Sep 10, 2015
sprites and dice long live the queen review

Long Live the Queen

Developer: Hanako Games
Publisher: Hanako Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $9.99
June 2, 2012

It’s good to step outside your comfort zone sometimes, and that’s exactly what happened when two of my friends, in a fit of boredom, goaded me into playing a game of Long Live the Queen.

Long Live the Queen is an RPG in the style of a visual novel, but that doesn’t really describe it. It’s a modern version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, made for those of us that were raised with video games. It’s a child’s storybook as written by George R.R. Martin; it’s a fairy tale where the hero isn’t guaranteed to win. It's a game, just not how we often consider them these days. Is it worth a look into? That's something I wanted to find out.

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Get used to that scared expression and those hair loopies. You’ll be seeing them a lot.

You take control of Elodie, the princess of the kingdom of Nova, just as she hears the news of her mother’s death. Your goal is simply to keep Elodie alive and in power for 40 weeks, at which point she will turn 15 and be crowned the new queen of Nova. It sounds easy enough, but don’t let the game’s cutesy appearance and apparent simplicity fool you - Long Live the Queen is dark and tense, and you never know what might kill you.

Much like ruling a kingdom, Long Live the Queen is all about making decisions, often without knowing their full consequences. You pick Elodie’s daily activities, which will raise various stats and influence the story in subtle ways. There are also major weekly events, which have a much more immediate and apparent effect on the game and on Elodie. These events can range from simple courtship to much more dramatic assassination attempts and invading armies. Even with the major events, it is often hard to predict exactly what the long-term effects of your choices, successes, and failures will be. Some are obvious: Failing to spot an assassin in time means that you die. Some are less so: Capturing that assassin may gain you crucial information that you’ll need in order to get through a later event, but leaving him alive could also backfire tragically.

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An adorable little cartoon drawing of a 14 year old girl being violently murdered. This death scene really sums up the game perfectly.

This game’s not easy by any means. I’m no stranger to resource management, but Long Live the Queen has a lot to keep track of. Not only do you have to choose your activities day by day and build up your stats, Elodie’s mood will influence how adept she is at learning various skills. For instance, an angry Elodie will excel at learning weapons, but will struggle with demeanor and poise. You have to select your actions carefully, weighing the effects on the kingdom with the effects on Elodie and what you want her to become. Long Live the Queen is a tightrope walk where the rope can turn, move, or break unexpectedly.

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Elodie’s Mood Meter, one of the many things to keep in mind when making decisions.

I actually did fairly well my first time around, though that may have been due to my friends’ backseat princess-ing. I opted to train in magic (excuse me, Lumen) early and often, figuring that I could wield my vast cosmic power against anything that threatened me or my kingdom. I chose actions that kept Elodie willful, as that improved her ability to learn Lumen and other useful things. I also gave her a solid grounding in combat and strategy, and took actions that discouraged or punished those who tried to kill me. Have I mentioned that Elodie is one badass little girl?

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It’s easy! Just figure out which of these 46 skills are most likely to save your life.

My “don’t screw with me” plan worked pretty well until about halfway through the game, when it became clear that the ability to kill things with my brain wasn’t enough by itself to protect the kingdom. I needed powerful allies, and I needed to manage them in such a way that they would help me without taking control of Nova themselves. I hadn’t laid the groundwork for such things, and eventually found myself outmaneuvered and overpowered. Somewhere around week 30, my fair lands were invaded and conquered, and Elodie fled into exile.

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She did live though. That means I win, right? ...Right?

Long Live the Queen has odd juxtapositions in tone, but they suit the game. You’re a sweet and innocent girl who’s forced to grow up too quickly and face a very ugly world. Your first time playing you’ll have about a snowball’s chance in Hell (or a 14 year old’s chance in war), but it’s really more about experiencing the story than it is about winning. Plus, just like you can flip back to the previous page of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you can just save before making any major decisions in case they don’t work out for you.

“Fun” might not be the right word to describe Long Live the Queen, but it is engrossing. The story is tense and well-written, the characters are strong and relatable, and the experience is somewhere between a strategy game and a good book. It was a major step outside my usual comfort zone, but overall a positive one. For those of you that love cause-and-effect, and love the sometimes brutal twists and turns that happen in fantasy novels, this might be right up your alley.

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Eric Henn

Head Writer