[TW: rape, incest]
Rule the world or die trying!
I did a little mini review of this game for my “Games You Might Not Have Tried” post, but since the game’s been released on Steam with new content, I thought it would be a good time to give it the full review it deserves.
In Long Live the Queen, you play as Elodie, heir to the throne of Nova. Your job, as the player, is to help her make it to her coronation on her 15th birthday, you do this by training her in various skills that she will need to be an effective queen.
But most of the time, you’ll be watching her die, over and over again.
Basically, Long Live the Queen is Princess Maker x Game of Thrones, strong emphasis on the Game of Thrones part. During the week, you select classes for Elodie to attend, and you can choose certain activities to participate in on the weekend. Weekend activities, as well as certain events, effect Elodie’s mood, and her dominant mood may grant bonuses or penalties when she tries to learn particular skills. (If Elodie is Depressed, for instance, she will gain a bonus to her Animal Handling skills, but a penalty to her Social Skills, since she doesn’t feel like talking to anyone when she’s upset).
In between attending classes and doing weekend activities, various scripted events will occur, and each event has numerous skill checks. Passing skill checks will often give you more information and thus different ways to solve problems, or they might even unlock whole plotlines, whereas failing them can lead to nothing much happening, a character disliking you, or instant death (although there are multiple ways to avoid being insta-killed). It is also impossible to pass every skill check in one playthrough, so if you are the type of gamer who just has to see everything, you will either get a good amount of replay value out of it or it will drive you absolutely nuts.
Although the events that happen each week are scripted (although many are heavily dependent on your past choices) hoe you choose to play Elodie is up to you. Do you want her to be a master military strategist? Someone who is cunning and charming and can play at courtly intrigue with the best? A scholar and a mage? You can choose to focus on certain areas (in fact, you pretty much have to to pass some of the endgame skill checks) or hop around, trying for a little of everything and only maxing out one skill.
The art style is anime-esque and there are lots of ribbons, bows, lace, and PINK, lots of pink. The backgrounds are kind of bland, and after a while, I wasn’t really looking at them, and the character art isn’t as detailed as, say, The Royal Trap but it’s not terrible either, and if you think the game’s cutesy art style means that it’s easy, you would be WRONG! The one issue I have with the art is that a couple of the characters look like they’re in their early twenties when they should be in their thirties, but maybe that’s just me.
Probably the most frustrating thing about Long Live the Queen is the occasional dick move it pulls where it tosses out a skill check you didn’t even think of raising. This can lead to scenarios like an Elodie with a maxed out “Swords” stat being killed in a sword fight (Reflexes + Flexibility is a winning combination), or a cunning Elodie who knows all about what everyone is doing but doesn’t know basic geography. One annoying thing for me is that she starts the game with a penalty to her social skills, so you pretty much have to hit the ground running and manage her mood if you want to raise it enough for certain skill checks. This is particularly annoying because social skills (primarily Court Manners) are ridiculously useful early on in the game.
The good news is that there is actually a fair amount of queer representation in Long Live the Queen, the bad news is that the members of the nobility are all engaged in some form of unpleasantness: rape, incest, rape and incest, ordering assassinations (most often your own), and murdering entire families, and the queer nobles are definitely no exception to this (although the queer men are much, much, MUCH worse in this regard than the women). However, there’s also your aunt, Julianna, who is in a relationship with a priestess, and there are several endings where Elodie has a romantic relationship with a woman, either refusing to marry, marrying her brother to get closer to her, or marrying a nobleman and appointing a “Lady of the Royal Bedchamber” (winkwink). Fortunately, you learn about most of this through flavour text (especially high Internal Affairs/Foreign Intelligence) during your classes, and at times during the endings, and it’s possible to not see it entirely, although you might be a little confused by certain events without that context. Elodie can also do some pretty cruel things (this is tracked via a hidden Cruelty statistic) which include: ordering your maid flogged for running into you, forcing someone to marry, imprisoning someone and giving their titles to someone else, executing prisoners of war, blowing people up with magic, and pretty much going around and lopping off heads. There are certain events and endings you can only get with a high Cruelty stat. Fortunately, it apparently only goes up to 10, not 100.
Aside from everything I just mentioned, the game is also criminally short, only taking a few minutes to a few hours to play through once, but such is the nature of the typical indy dev’s budget. There is, as I said, a good amount of replay value if you want to work through the checklist, despite the scripted events.
Overall, if you like Game of Thrones, are looking for something that won’t take forty hours to play, and you don’t mind
all the PINK! cutesy anime style graphics, you will probably like this game. Underneath the adorable exterior is a surprisingly serious game with some very adult themes, a game which will cheerfully kill you if you underestimate it.