Friday, 9 January 2015

Long Live The Queen

Gamespot Score: n/a

My Score: 7.2

(+) Pros: - Dark story revolving around royal politics, nobles and lots of trials fitting for a young princess, - Incredibly in depth point distribution mechanic revolving around tons of different aesthetics and useful skills, - A lot of tough decision making, not every situation can be resolved, - Tons of different, varied scenarios depending on your actions throughout the game, - Feels incredibly satisfying to finally get past a certain scenario after allocating the right points into the right abilities.

(-) Cons: - Mostly text based, not a lot of game mechanics actually involved (as with most visual novel games), - A LOT of trial and error, very easy to die to random things and you won't know why, - Magic is too overpowered.

Gameplay time: 20 hours+

Never thought I would play this, honestly. I was winging through the anime section of Steam games and found that "Long Live The Queen" was one of the top titles in the genre, which surprised me to some extent. "What the hell is this mahou shoujo esque game and why the f**k is it one of the best anime games on Steam?", I thought. Since it was on sale at the time (for 2 f**king dollars), I told myself, why the f**k not? Of course, I was met with one of the most punishing, light novel experiences that I could ever imagine. "Long Live The Queen" is a hard game. I mean, a HARD game, you'd get your ass kicked every time you boot up the game, I guarantee you. You think this was a happy game where you play as a princess who runs around the castle playing dress up? You'd be dead wrong.

You play as princess Elodie, the heir to the kingdom. Her mother recently passed away, and with her turning of age ceremony, she is about to be crowned queen after 40 weeks. With the passing of her mother, she is depressed, and with all the sudden pressure of her becoming queen, she has a lot to deal with. Royal politics, pleasing the other neighboring countries, and meeting the demands of the people are just some of the things she has to struggle with being the next in line for the throne. Guess being a princess isn't all that's cut out to be.

So...many...things to focus on...MY BRAIN!!!

For a game with Elodie as its cute poster girl, "Long Live The Queen" has quite a dark story going for it. Elodie's mother dies right off the bat, and she starts the game depressed. With her next in line for being queen, there are quite a lot of people out for her blood, even before she starts to do ANYTHING. And if you go through the wrong steps, there will be even MORE out for your blood. So what if Elodie is a 14 year old girl who knows almost NOTHING about building up a kingdom, they don't really care. They just want the throne for themselves, and with nothing but a 14 year old naive girl standing in their way, their job to usurp the throne is an easy one. Of course, since WE are playing as Elodie, we won't let that happen! Right?

"Long Live The Queen" is a conceptually easy game to play. Your goal is to survive 40 weeks to make it to coronation, where Elodie is officially pronounced as queen. That said, surviving 40 weeks is no easy task, as Elodie is likely to die to something completely random and stupid along the way. To prepare for her coronation, Elodie's father, the king, has prepared for her to take classes, teaching her skills that would be useful for her when she becomes queen (Animal handling? Really?). In each of the weeks, you can take 2 classes, choosing between the many different classes available, each increasing a different skill when you finish that week's class. There's a lot of depth here, and increasing each skill to a certain level unlocks Elodie an outfit, and by equipping that outfit, she becomes even better at said skill.

Ah, I'm not sure that's flattery, my dear.

As god would have it, these skills that Elodie pick up along the way will actually help her survive these 40 weeks. Want to impress a fellow royal noble? Some points into flattery or court manners will certainly help in that regard. How about showing off to your friends? Maybe some points into animal handling can show them how good you are with the cute little dogs, or you can show them your princess demeanor by gracing the commoners with your elegance. What if Elodie got attacked by bandits while riding in a caravan? If you actually bothered to train those leg muscles with reflexes, then yes, she will survive. What about if you're challenged to a duel to the death by a fellow noble, then some points into your swordsmanship will quickly put him in his place. But of course, magic beats everything, just fry him where he stands with your mighty bolts of lightning (provided you put enough points into it).

There are a lot of choices in "Long Live The Queen". Do you side by your aunt or your cousin when you see them quarreling with one another? These little things will make a huge difference in the weeks to come, and what choice you pick alongside what skills you managed to master will play a major part. Even during your study sessions, picking whatever skills to hone on is a choice, because whatever comes for the weeks to come, you will need to deal with using what you have learnt. Like, you never know when you will be killed by poison chocolates, or get screwed over in the jungle when monsters come after you and you aren't fit enough to outrun them. In that sense, whatever you do throughout the game has impact on future events, so make sure what you say to that woman at the start of the game counts! Everything can change depending on that one thing you say or do during any of the events.

A princess needs a fitting wardrobe filled with status increasing clothing!

When it comes to its cons, there's just the usual complain about most visual novel games. Most of the game is nothing but text, there's nothing mechanically demanding of you as the player here, and some people might find it boring (though arguably, there's more "game" here than the usual eroge type visual novels). Also, the massive trial and error system means you will be having to die, a hell lot. Like, "Dark Souls" style of death. Also, a small spoiler, I don't like how magic solves almost everything, making everything else that you learn kind of useless (if you don't believe me, add magic, watch how you breeze through the later parts of the game).

"Long Live The Queen" is a good title that's a great deal for its asking price. I spent at least 20 hours to get to the ending, ONCE. I tried all sorts of builds, I noted down the possible events that happen in the following weeks, and I STILL die tons of times. Its a game that's super satisfying when you actually make it to the end. Even still, when you make it there, there are so many more possibilities and events that you probably haven't seen, different spouses for Elodie, different outcomes for different scenarios. If you want to go for the full clear, there's so much time you can dump on to this one. It all depends on how determined you can be.

Happy gaming.