Princess Maker-styled games have been around since 1991. They have a history as rich as it comes, but strangely, they’ve never come west. They almost did, but when Intracorp went bankrupt, all hopes of a release died with it. So when an indie game by the name of Long Live the Queen popped up on the Steam Greenlight page in the same style, I decided I had to vote for it.
I was intrigued.
Well now I’ve had a chance to play through it a bit and I’m glad to say that it surprised me. Find out if our princess was fit to be a queen.
Long Live the Queen was built using Ren’Py, an open source visual novel engine. I’ve used Ren’Py for a game that I made in a 48 hour challenge, so I know a bit about the mechanics and strategy going forward. The engine works fabulously as a system for creating consequences and choices to flesh out a rich storyline. The concern with a game like this would be which direction they would take the game.
I found out that this was more focused on consequence over story. This isn’t a criticism, but that mindset is what drives the entire game. Hanako Games has spent a lot of time crafting these life simulation games, with Long Live the Queen being their fifth in the series. In doing so, they have crafted something pretty interesting.
The game focuses entirely on the day to day life of Elodie, the crowned princess of Nova. Our young Elodie will become queen, but only if she studies and gains the respect of her court. To do so, you will spend the whole game defining what she will study twice daily, what she will spend her free time doing, and what decisions she’ll need to make on her way to becoming Queen. That’s pretty much it.
What ways you raise her are not so much critical to the person she’ll become, but more so to the events she’ll have to navigate through. This is an intriguing scenario which showcases the definition of what a visual novel strives to do. There are wrong answers and bad decisions littering this path Elodie is taking. Each poor choice leads you directly to an event you will need to survive. You aren’t just going to sleep through your first playthrough and live. The only way to survive this game’s many deaths is to focus on what you will need for each situation that faces you, and the only way you will know what that will be is to replay each death.
It is tricky and it forces you to look at your future queen a bit mechanically. To navigate the many suitors and chaotic events, you need to know what classes that need mastering before you approach each sequence of events. Fortunately they give you an onscreen hint.
These hints are what will get you to the end game. Preparing Elodie into the Queen she should become will be difficult. Success and failure all hinges upon what you have studied and if you are knowledgeable enough to survive the various attempts to thwart your rise to power. Mastering the proper roles will require you to change Elodie’s mood at whim so that she studies at maximum efficiency, which is quite difficult when you consider how many variables there are. To help this out is a costume system that boosts stats, but this can only be obtained with a partial mastery of the class.
This is what makes Long Live the Queen so compelling. There are many paths to failure, but ultimately the game relies on how invested you are in efficiency. Playing it requires some form of divination to push through the unknown barriers that await you. It is a tall barrier, but fortunately the events themselves are brief and you can save at any point in the game.
It isn’t the story that will compel you to complete this visual novel, which is a pretty bizarre thing to state. Hanako Games created something that played more to establishing complex variables and it is absolutely fascinating. You will come away with this bizarre need to tackle this game over and over and over again just to see which barriers you can push through.
Long Live the Queen utilizes a simple engine in an exceptionally complex way. That is a testament to the experience these developers have with the title.
[+Nice Albeit Simple Visuals] [+Well Integrated Systems] [+Complex Variables] [+Interesting Scenarios] [-Weak Character Interactions]