Title: Long Live The Queen
Developer: Hanako Games
Release Date: July 15, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Long Live The Queen is a visual novel and political sim initially released in 2013 for PC. The title now arrived on the Nintendo Switch on the 15th of July as a port, retailing at a full price of $9.99.
The aim of Long Live The Queen could not be any simpler. Players are put into the shoes of Elodie, the princess of Nova, who has been brought back to her Kingdom after attending school following her mother’s prematurely and mysteriously death. Players must successfully train her up to be queen in time for her coronation when she hits the age of 15.
The catch is how exactly you’ll reach this golden ending when several obstacles are in her way, which can consist of betrayal, civil wars, assassinations, invasions, and magic being the causes of her sudden demise. Her journey will be filled with dying and failing to live up to being heir before players eventually succeed since everything and everyone is out to get her.
As a raising sim, Long Live The Queen is structurally and contextually similar to titles within its niche genre – even down to its unexpectedly dark storyline, something similar games such as My Lovely Daughter and Teaching Feeling wear as badges of honor and immediate indicators to what the games have in store for players.
Interestingly, and in what sets apart Long Live The Queen as its own take on the genre, the title has an overly cutesy and unassuming design, featuring the adorable upcoming queen herself on its front cover and in all of its illustrations, almost always with pretty floral patterns and pink tones. This can even go as far as playing out like a black comedy at times, especially in its death-ending visuals and ridiculously charming chibi designs of Elodie despite the violently unfortunate events transpiring.
In this way, Long Live The Queen is a game all about juxtaposition – having to deal with becoming queen turns out to not be an easy journey despite how good it sounds, nor would you expect it to be as challenging as it actually is. Making the calls to prosecute, cut funds and control her love life are all necessary evils to venture through and come out unscathed.
Then there’s suspecting every character who may appear harmless or friendly enough but can quickly become your biggest enemy who plots for Elodie’s downfall if you have slipped up along the way. Deep, dark secrets in their intentions, motivations, and backstories can also be uncovered if you approach them in the correct manner to expose this key dialogue. Many playthroughs can play out with players being none the wiser as to who exactly orchestrates all of these troubles for the princess in training, but answers to these questions are discoverable.
The game is driven by your decisions, being played and tailored to its choice-and-consequence system being the “end all, be all” of how you decide to conquer its challenges. By challenge, I mean that with the greatest emphasis possible because getting the most out of Long Live The Queen is undoubtedly its greatest challenge. With the game requiring reruns on top of reruns to complete its numerous achievements, seeing each end can be just as bleak, tragic, and bittersweet depending on what Elodie has to experience, suffer and come to terms with – even on your best runs. Long Live The Queen is a tough game, contextually and mechanically, despite what its unassuming exterior may tell you otherwise.
The game encompasses a rinse and repeat spreadsheet worth of stats as its main gameplay mechanic when selecting a couple of Elodie’s subjects in class for each day to raise two of forty-two skills. These are integral to her survival since these stats directly lead players onto different paths depending on if she has reached the desired threshold for each category when the time calls for it.
Her mood also determines the outcome of these classes, further influencing just how successful she will be in learning that can even provide her with bonus points or land her with no progress if her mood does not align with specific topics. Weekend activities follow this, which can either progress storylines or affect her mood.
Its gameplay loops tend to be monotonous and repetitive due to its simple formula that involves a lot of skipping to locate new lines and content. Survive forty weeks, be crowned, die trying, and rinse and repeat. It’s nothing more than a tick list of managing stats.
However, there are quite a lot of interesting information pieces in the background that gets dampened in being exciting enough for players to want to explore due to the standard affair of its trial-and-error gameplay, making it a grueling task on repeated runs. Its soundtrack also frequently loops, but its writing contains some very neat foreshadowing that hints at training Elodie in certain stats, as well as callbacks that allude to who and how certain individuals are scheming.
Long Live The Queen packs a lot of content, with its many epilogues, deaths, and achievements to discover, with each one being helpfully updated in its checklist section from the main menu. Each one builds up its world that gradually unravels and opens up details about its past and present at every given opportunity when players find the key to unlocking these new tidbits of information.
There are countless amounts of the smallest of variations in its dialogue, events, and encounters, meaning that there is a variety of approaches players can take when achieving victory to see its bonus section appear when reaching Elodie’s birthday that unlocks special illustrations. On this topic, there’s a nice amount of attention to detail in certain design choices here and there. Elodie’s portrait and sprites change depending on her mood and always retain the change in design when giving her a new attire. These outfits unlock once reaching a certain number of points in skill groups, making for fun additions to its gameplay for added stat bonuses and illustrations.
Long Live The Queen’s story progression ultimately ties into how you shape Elodie herself. Elodie can be a Chess player who prefers to manipulate others to achieve victory, much like the royalty she is surrounded by. On the other hand, you can choose to have her focus on the political turmoil as an accountant instead to better advise her Kingdom, which is just as valid as putting all her resources into brushing up on her history and lore – a stand-out path for uncovering a particular revelation that can be one of the earliest indicators to how deep it’s world building and writing can go.
The most exciting part of Long Live The Queen is just how far it can go with such examples, where players can shape Elodie and are encouraged to do so for achievement purposes to see just how monstrous of a ruler a once innocent and unknowing princess can be. There’s no way to incorrectly play it since the game actively encourages us to see all the sides of how Elodie can grow up as queen. For this reason alone, the training can be surprisingly strategic when shaping Elodie, and in this way, Long Live The Queen offers something for everyone for how much freedom it gives you in raising Elodie the way you want to.
Its substance is subjective, however, with epilogues ranging from being far too short of making the payoff underwhelming when they could have been more detailed to add to a natural build-up instead of being so abrupt or are on the other end of the extreme in being far too long with an overreliance of exposition and info-dumping when the rest of the game was not written in such a way.
Path divergences are plentiful, resulting in various outcomes arising from the slightest changes in multiple reruns, as well as different ways of finding victory. This is the most satisfying part of the game to work out. However, it’s core system that embraces the trial-and-error formula will not be for everyone.
Long Live The Queen is a deconstruction of the princess trope for what you will eventually discover about its world and characters. It takes time, effort, and patience to see the best that it has to offer. Those looking for another Princess Maker experience will probably already know not to look any further than here. For everyone else, the main caveat is that it takes a lot of commitment to see the worth of Long Live The Queen, but as a triumph over adversity tale and one that runs smoothly on the Nintendo Switch with its touch screen making reruns all the more seamless, Long Live The Queen will undoubtedly surprise you one way or another.
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