Long Live the Queen is a visual novel and life-simulation game developed by Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar. You can download a demo of the game at the developer/publisher’s website here (http://www.hanakogames.com/llq.shtml). You can also buy directly there (a Steam key should be provided if you want to link it to your account).
Long Live the Queen follows a year in the life of Elodie, a young princess training to become queen after the death of her mother. You control which skills Elodie studies and what choices she makes for her kingdom and these skills and choices dictate the direction of the game’s story. Will you successfully take Elodie to her coronation or will your choices cause her to flee her duties or meet an untimely end?
The game is broken up into forty weeks and each week is ostensibly divided into three segments. First, you will need to choose to two classes for Elodie to attend for that week, which will increase the various skills used to determine story paths. Your growth rate for skills can be affected by your current mood. For example, an angry Elodie will excel in weapons and military classes but will fumble through royal demeanor and expression classes.
After class, the week’s events and story will unfold, sometimes offering choices that can further branch the story. Of course most events and choices are affected by Elodie’s current skill sets. Sometimes these can simply add some flavor text to the event but oftentimes, they will affect the outcome of your game, sometimes immediately and sometimes in events to come.
Once that’s complete you end your week by picking a weekend activity, which will alter Elodie’s mood or trigger another event scene.
And that basically sums up the game. You repeat this sequence until Elodie is crowned queen in the final week or until she has succumbed to an unfortunate fate. Where it gets interesting is in repeated runs of the game. Simply being crowned queen and seeing the ending (or an ending, to be more accurate) is not what this game is about. There are dozens and dozens of stories to see.
Unfortunately, the game makes it slightly frustrating to fully enjoy this aspect. If the game offered simple branching paths, it would be easy to indicate in-game what you’ve seen before so you, the player, can go in another direction. However, given how much the game’s daunting forty-two skill sets (among other things) affect everything in the game, there would be no good in-game way to say “you’ve done this before,” and it’s asking a lot of the player to try to make sense of it in their head over and over and over again. There’s an “event skip” mode that’ll skip any text you’ve seen before to smooth out replays, but that may also make following a new story path difficult.
Graphically, Long Live the Queen is extremely simple; most of your time will be reading text over the same static background, occasionally with anime-style character art. The character art is very nicely done, but it is rather sparse. Many character’s text boxes will not have portraits at all and large artwork is mostly reserved for ending sequences (both good and bad). Likewise, you will generally be hearing the same few classically inspired musical pieces playing over the text. The production seems a little bit thin, but it’s okay to look at the game more like an interactive book.
I enjoyed going through the game a few times trying to treat each story differently. However, since the story is short and getting to significantly different branches can be hard to ascertain without some lucky fumbling (or finding helpful guides online), I don’t know if the game has the level of replayability it wants to have given the extreme breadth of story branches it offers, especially since the first half of the game does not seem to deviate much.
That said, I am confident in saying that if you enjoy anime princess stories, you will likely get something out of the game (which could regenerate after letting the game sit for a little bit).
Since the game is mostly text and spreadsheet style stat management, I would imagine it may not hold the interest of modern kids. The story also deals with some heavy adult themes such as death and depression, war and execution; however there is nothing overly graphic that I’ve noticed. Younger pre-teen or teenage girls may like the deeper and sometimes darker approach to a princess story, however. –Leroy Capasso