Man, it’s been almost a whole month since last I posted! Shame on me! In my defense, I’ve been so busy with my new job that I’ve barely had any chance to play any video games, let alone write about them. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few moments here and there of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future and the surprisingly excellent endgame content of Ni No Kuni, but other than that, I haven’t been able to make much time for a lot of gaming.
Aside from the princessing, that is.
My husband actually came across Long Live the Queen on Steam several weeks ago. He jokingly suggested I should purchase it, and I was very dismissive. “Oh,” I shrugged, “I don’t really like simulation games. And princesses are boring.”
Fast forward a few weeks, and the magical Humble Bundle people came out with the super exciting Leading Ladies edition, a Bundle made entirely of games with female protagonists. Squee! Exciting! I bought it immediately. I had been wanting to play The Cat Lady for awhile, and The Yawhg looked really cool. I didn’t even realize Long Live the Queen was included in the bundle until after I’d unlocked the Steam Keys. “Oh, what the hell,” I thought, “maybe it will be funny,” and I tried it out.
You are Elodie (El-oh-dee? El-aw-die? How the hell do you say that name?), Crown Princess of Nova, an apparently matriarchal monarchy in a magical anime world. Your mom, the previous queen, just died, and now you have been called home from princess boarding school in order to train to be queen. Your coronation is in one year. The object of the game is to build your skills by taking weekly classes and to train to be the very best queen Nova has ever seen!
Assuming you can survive that long.
Which you cannot, because literally everything in Nova is trying to fucking murder you.
Things start off simply enough.
Time goes by a week at a time. At the beginning of every week, you are invited to choose which classes Elodie should take from a list that is both truly staggering in length and somewhat absurd in scope.
Each class category breaks down into three subcategories, so if we use the power of math, we discover that Elodie has a ridiculous 42 separate skills to advance during the course of the game (the 14th skillset, Lumen, is the magic skillset, and it doesn’t unlock until later in the game). Damn, I guess you need to know a lot to be a good queen. You choose your classes for the week, and your skills go up as you study. You’re treated to weirdly specific descriptions of the things you study every week as your skill levels rise.
You study your skills, your skills level up. Seems easy, right? BUT WAIT, BECAUSE IT IS NOT THAT SIMPLE. Of course it isn’t. Your current mood affects your ability to learn certain skills.
So don’t bother trying to learn about improving your Royal Demeanor, your Conversation skills, or your Athletics while you’re too depressed to do it! Concentrate on Animal Handling or Expression instead.
You can manipulate your mood during the weekends by doing specific activities.
Going to the Dungeon will make you more Yielding and Afraid. Playing with your toys will make you more Cheerful, but also more Lonely and Yielding. Going to the Barracks makes you feel Pressured. As your skills increase, you unlock more places to go and more things to do, but each one manipulates your mood in a specific way. Much of the challenge of the game comes from making weekend activity choices that allow you to feel the right way in order learn the right skills in the right order to avoid being murdered. This turned out to be a pretty tricky juggling act.
On my first playthrough, I kept ending up being really angry all the time. Being Angry gives a nice bonus to learning Military skills, so consequently, I became an expert in Strategy, Navel Strategy, and Logistics. It seemed like a pretty good idea, actually. Queens should know about running their armies and navies, right? Also, I got this sweet outfit, so that was cool.
For awhile, things seemed to go great! I even successfully quashed a civil war! But then I was challenged to a duel by the son of the rebellion’s dead leader, and he bludgeoned me to death with a quarterstaff, because as it turns out, knowing lots of things about military strategy doesn’t seem to teach you much about self defense. I tried to go back and train myself in dueling skills, but I had saved too recently to level the relevant skills enough to defend myself. So I started over.
This time, I decided to concentrate on Athletics and Trade and Production, because during my first playthrough, I had been approached by someone who was apparently Gutenburg, and he wanted me to invest in his crazy idea of building a printing press. Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about Trade to know that I was looking at ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTIONS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
So armed with my brand-spanking new printing press and my increased understanding of the nuances of economic theory, I felt better able to face the world’s threats! Also, I unlocked this adorable outfit with a top hat, because economics, I guess?
I managed to squeak through the civil war somehow, even though I knew rather less about strategy, and I even managed to survive my duel! Awesome!
…Only to be poisoned by chocolates a week later. Le sigh.
So I tried again! After managing to survive the chocolates, my country was invaded a few weeks later by an insane magical bishonen…
…who murdered me with his Lumen powers.
This was about the point I got frustrated with Long Live the Queen. It’s a very interesting idea for a game, but unless you’re playing with a walkthrough, the trial-and-error play that the title requires gets very irritating. If you don’t save often, you need to constantly replay large sections of the game. If you DO save often, you don’t have enough weeks to train the right skills to survive. It’s also very repetitive. You see the same handful of screens for the entire game.
That being said, this is not a bad game by ANY means. I was pretty obsessed with it for a few days. It is a game made entirely of RPG fiddly bits, and if you find that appealing, you are going to love this game. It’s definitely worth a look, especially if you happened to pick it up in the Humble Bundle.
Just…watch out for chocolates. They’re probably poisonous.