Game: Long Live the Queen
Time Played: 1.8 Hours
I picked up Long Live the Queen during a Steam winter sale in 2014, and have only just now gotten around to trying it. I’m awful. But, hey, that was the final game that I bought that winter that I hadn’t played, so now I’ve caught up! 😀
What is it?
The Steam page describes it as this:
Rule the world or die trying!
Being a Princess is not an easy job. Being a Queen is even harder. Especially when you’re only fourteen years old, and the reason you’ve inherited the throne is that your royal mother has just met an untimely end.
While it’s very catchy, it doesn’t really do a great job of describing exactly what you’ll be doing in this game. So here goes nothing.
LLtQ is a very clever visual novel in that I don’t think I’ve played one similar to this before. The story is pretty complex, and a lot is obscured to you if your princess, Elodie, doesn’t have the right skills to understand what’s happening around her.
So you have this princess who is next in line to the throne. And you have all these outside plots and intrigue that want to see her dead. It’s difficult to determine who is friend and foe, and even moreso because, as I noted above, if Elodie doesn’t have knowledge or skill in something, parts of the story are completely obscured.
Each week, you send Elodie in to learn two new skills. You can double up on the same skill, or spread it across different skill types. The one major thing to keep in mind is that her current emotional state effects which skills she learns the best.
For example, if she’s angry, she’ll get a bonus to learning about weapons and military. But she’ll suck at learning something more peaceful, like medicine. In fact, she can suck so much that trying to train her in one of those skills will result in nothing learned at all, and is a huge waste of resources.
If you raise all skills in a set to a specific level, you unlock new outfits that help Elodie learn them even faster, which is kinda nice.
Learning the right skills to handle the right situations is the difference between life and death in this game. But the problem is, you won’t know what’s coming to kill you until you get there. And by then, it’s too late.
Fun and Frustration
The story is pretty interesting, which is a good thing because, as I noted above, you’re not going to live through it your first time. Thankfully, the game allows you to fast forward through story you’ve already seen. However, each choice you make, including knowing the right skills to handle story situations, changes the outcomes and choices you can make. The game is smart enough to stop fast forwarding through any part of the story that you haven’t seen yet – a very nice feature!
So this game is designed from the get-go knowing that people are going to play it repeatedly before they succeed. I’ve seen it touted as the Dark Souls of visual novels, and I agree.
It’s fun because you can try again with more knowledge the second time around. My first time, I was actually doing pretty well until I got shot through with an arrow and Elodie brilliantly thought that pushing it deeper was the best way to deal with it.
My second time through, I had a better idea of skills that would benefit me. I unlocked a lot of skill outfits and was progressing pretty far into the story. I probably should have saved the game (that’s the only way I can think I’d ever come close to beating it is to save and reload), because I ended up getting trashed because I didn’t have enough magic skill or something.
Oh, yeah. Speaking of which, there’s an unexpected magic girl sub-plot to the whole thing. Or, at least, there was in the story I’m playing. Sadly, the magic girl transformation didn’t save me.
After dying on my second try, the third and fourth times I just got more and more miserable at it until I gave up. I probably needed a break, but it got to the point where I felt everything I chose was wrong in some way… and it probably was.
There’s just no way to be able to foresee and prepare for all the different skills that you need to respond to situations appropriately, and it’s hard to know which failures are huge and which ones are okay to let slide. So while this does encourage you to replay the game again and again, I could see this as a bit of frustration for perfectionists.
My advice is remember to save if things are going well. I’m still kicking myself for not saving that second game. I could have gone far!
Despite my grump, I can see myself playing it again when I have time. It’s certainly challenging, original and fun overall.