Long Live the Queen Review: Royal death simulator

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

A perfectly executed choose-your-own-story game about a young crown princess surviving until her coronation.. or failing to.

INFO:

Developer: Hanako Games
Available for: PC

REVIEW:

When I first met the crown princess Elodie she was pretty depressed over the loss of her mother. This made it hard for her to focus on any studies that were social in nature, like royal manners and conversation skills. Instead, I had her learn about the history of her kingdom and the world, and military tactics. After all, it seemed fitting for a future queen to have the skills to lead her people in battle should the need arise.

Elodie stumbled through social gatherings gracelessly, wasn’t allowed in her own castle’s treasury thanks to her absolute ignorance of accounting, and finally met her end by gobbling down poisoned chocolates because she lacked the social grace to leave them for later.

This was how my first playthrough of Long Live the Queen went, and I eagerly started another game. And another. By the third playthrough, Elodie actually made it through to her own coronation alive. I rejoiced for a few seconds, then clicked back to the title menu and started another new game.

Long Live the Queen is, in its most basic form, a visual Choose Your Own Adventure. Every choice you make has an impact on where the story goes, or even how much of it you get to see.

The events of each playthrough are the same, so after playing it once or twice you know what to expect. This means you can start to be more strategic about how you play. Elodie must survive a year until her coronation. Every week she spends time learning certain skills and leveling up her knowledge of things like accounting, intrigue, animal handling, athletics, and a number of others.

Elodies also has moods which shift based on the game’s events. How she’s feeling affects how well she’ll study certain skills. For instance, if she’s depressed, she won’t want to learn anything social, and her studies for social skills will not increase as much as they normally would.

The game plays out in phases. For each “week,” you select a morning and an evening class, interact with a preset scene, then choose what do to on your day off – which will affect your mood. Special outfits are unlocked as you become better at some skillsets, which boost your skills for that particular skill (and look adorable to boot). All these actions work together to create an incredibly dynamic gameplay which is constantly changing, sometimes a tiny bit at a time, and sometimes drastically.

The game is meant to be played through many times to discover all the story branches, which has the potential to drag on, but Long Live the Queen manages to make things easy and fun. Players have the option to fast forward through dialogue they’ve already seen without fear of skipping something new – the dialogue automatically stops skipping if any new text is revealed.

The game works on the basis of “checks,” which check whether particular skills are high enough to succeed at a certain task. Being able to see these checks arms you with the knowledge of which skills you need to increase if you want to push the story in a particular way.

The story itself is great – as the future queen you face invading armies, commoners on trial for misdeeds, plotting noblemen and women, and even magic. Although the story plays out along the same basic route each time, you can choose to see different aspects of it, or avoid certain paths altogether.

Long Live the Queen also keeps track of your achievements, like certain tasks you’ve accomplished, and the different ways you’ve died. Staying alive through the full year also gives you a written description of what happens in the years after Elodie’s coronation, which changes according to all the big decisions you’ve made along the way.

Long Live the Queen is not a long game, but you will spend hours playing it, trying to unlock every achievement and get every death (poor Elodie). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to figuring out how to poison a chicken.