There are some genres in video games that are somewhat questionable compared to others. They tend to be niche and put off most people due to the nature of their gameplay. The visual novel genre is a perfect example of this, especially with many people thinking that it’s not a game to begin with since it seems more like interactive fiction than anything else. Long Live the Queen does do things a bit differently in this case.
Long Live the Queen is a visual novel game made by Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar. It’s a genre that isn’t really a hit for most gamers since it’s just a whole bunch of text queues with images of anime-style characters. All you do most of the time is read stuff, then choose between options whenever it does force you to make a decision, and it doesn’t happen a lot in most visual novel games. But in this game though, it’s all about decisions, and they can have drastic results.
You play as Elodie, a 14-year-old princess who is about to be crowned queen after her mother the Queen of Nova had just passed away. The coronation is 40 weeks away, which is on her 15th birthday. Being a princess has been hard enough, but becoming queen puts Elodie in a new set of circumstances, and also dangers. She is surrounded by courtiers and personalities who want to take advantage of her, or even kill her, in order to gain more political power. You must now help her survive through those 40 weeks and get to the coronation as someone fit to be queen.
It shows most of what you’d expect from a visual novel game, such as the anime-style characters and tons of text queues. But it takes more from the minority of visual novel games that feature a slew of statistics that you must raise and a time limit for you to do so. Raising everything would just leave you half-baked, and specializing in certain stats will make you weak in others, and it will play out in the ending of each game.
This game was made with Ren’Py, a free visual novel engine based on Python upon SDL that anyone can make a game with. In this case, the game does retain a lot of its indie trappings with its visuals. Even though it does feature its own artwork, it still has a good bit of that unrefined look, from its layouting to its use of fonts. That’s mostly forgivable though since the visuals isn’t that integral to the gameplay anyway; it could have been made into a text adventure or simulation game if desired. It won’t stop a lot of people from not liking this game though as all you really do is read, read, and read, then click on an option every once in a while; something that visual novels are known for.
Surviving the perils of having the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over your head wherever you go, you must build up certain stats that are grouped in various categories that are related to your royal duties, like Royal Demeanor, Conversation, Expression, Intrigue, and so on. Being good in certain stats makes you able to avoid certain circumstances that can lead to your demise, like how being good in Medicine can help you avoid being poisoned or being good in Economics can keep you from being scammed. Being good in something also entails a mood bonus and a mood penalty, which affects the princess in various ways and affect the ending.
The main point of the gameplay is that no matter what decision you make in the game, something bad happens to counterbalance the good things. Whether that bad thing kills you or not depends on how things turn out, which makes up a big part of the gameplay. The title itself is a part of the game’s cruelty as you don’t really get to live long on your way to becoming a queen. Perhaps the replay value in this game owes to the challenge of staying alive long enough to be crowned, looking for different ways to be the queen that no one can conquer.
Long Live the Queen is a deceptively vicious game that is not afraid to hit you really hard for making a wrong decision, and it still punishes you somehow for not making a wrong move. This is not a game for everyone as it features gameplay that may be seen as boring for a lot of people. But if you like role-playing and branching storylines with interesting endings, then this should be up your street.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7/10