Ever since the Queen's passing this September, there has been a game that has been on my mind. It's a simulation game by Hanako Studios that was gifted by a friend I made on Steam. Following the Queen's funeral, it felt like an appropriate time to reflect on this game that I have always found charming.
Why Long Live The Queen Makes Me Think of Our History
My first impression of the game was that it was going to be a very typical Japanese visual novel with plenty of drama, romance, and Disney essence. The game looks sweet, fluffy, pleasant, and very Japanese at first glance. The moment the God Save The Queen/King instrumental plays, however, you know that this game is exceedingly British.
The owner of Hanako Games, Georgina Bensley is a British game designer with a passion for geeky things. Hanako Games have put out several titles, but Long Live The Queen is what I would call their magnum opus and a personal favourite of mine.
The plot whilst simple is really well executed and you can explore many directions. The idea is to help Princess Elodie live to see her coronation. The game explores the life-changing 40 weeks of her life. Elodie is the only heir to the throne, and at the tender age of 14, she loses her mother, the Queen Regent. She needs to go to school to be prepared for the job as Queen, but what she learns at school also comes in handy when she's in a dangerous situation.
One of the most famous queens in history is Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her story has been featured in many films, books, and documentaries. So much so, it makes you question how things would have changed if certain events didn't happen. Long Live The Queen lets you explore these options.
Elodie's mother, the previous Queen, has tragically died, and the narrative gives me the impression she was murdered. Elodie is destined to take her place as she is her only child. Princess Elodie is only 14 years old and her coronation is due to take place when she's 15. The game goes through her whole year from a depressed 14-year-old to a gracious 15-year-old. However, there are many people who would happily dispose of or disgrace Elodie for their own personal gain, and thus the future Queen must use what she learnt in her classes to make good choices and live to see her Coronation.
She is very close to her cousin, Charlotte, whose mother is one of the many people who is plotting to kill Elodie for her own personal gain. Think of it like Game Of Thrones: you either win or you die.
Poor Elodie is practically just a baby. Her travails made me think of other female monarchs from history that made a huge impact on the country. Elizabeth I had endured neglect, assault, and imprisonment before she became Queen. Queen Margaret of Scotland didn't even last ten years as Queen, let alone make it to Scottish soil. Elodie's age appears to have been deliberately picked. Lady Jane Grey, the tragic 9-day-queen was beheaded at fifteen.
The physical gameplay is quite easy, mainly reading lots of text and selecting choices. There are a lot of classes to choose from and depending on Elodie's mood, she will either excel or do poorly in those classes. The more she excels in those classes, the higher those stats will increase.
In many guides and playthroughs of Long Live The Queen, their first lessons are normally economics. Having high stats in economics helps Princess Elodie gain access to the treasury and seal business deals. It also helps protect you from a particularly unfortunate case with chocolate. Don't trust chocolate in this game!
At the end of each class, you get a chance to do whatever you want at the weekend. Whatever you choose can affect your mood which also affects how she does in the game.
All stats have a maximum of 100, and there are a lot of stats. Due to how the game works, it will be impossible to max them all out. If you're lucky, you can max out at most three categories of stats. I would be curious to see what would happen if you cheated to get all the max stats. There's a twist to this though. The stats can't exceed 50 unless the other two skills in the same category are above 25. Once you've done this you can get an outfit that boosts these skills.
These stats make a huge impact on the game. They change the way the story unfolds. They can even change the way the other characters are seen, whether enemies or allies. I mention Elodie's aunt earlier, I always thought she was dodgy. In many paths, she is Elodie's enemy, but in other playthroughs, she can also be your most trusted ally.
It will be impossible to see all the game events in one playthrough, which makes the longevity and replayability of the experience almost limitless. It's great to try different things; one of my favourite events in the game is where you go exploring the forest with Briony. It's quite a hard one to get but makes for a nice change.
If you do manage to survive 38-39 weeks, you get a choice of who you want to marry. The choices of suitors can be long or short depending on how you've played the game. If you've unlocked certain events, it is also possible for Elodie to date a girl. I always try and hook her up with Briony because I think she and Elodie had the most genuine chemistry.
The game looks like it's meant to be easy, but it really isn't. You really need to plan how to play this game or else your playthrough will be cut short. The length of each playthrough can vary greatly on how many times you get killed and have to start again. The game knows that's difficult: it has over 100 save slots. So it's easy to just load and start again if something happens that you didn't want to happen.
The game's graphics are really nice, consisting mainly of anime-styled art. The character designs aren't the most original though, as I think many of them are simply recoloured sprites of other characters, These are mainly minor characters so you won't notice it much unless you play it a lot, but despite this I found the graphics to be generally very good.
I think there are some ways where the graphics could have been used more to make more of an impact, however. In the ballroom scene, for example, instead of having a blank screen with just pictures and dialogue, it would have been more effective to see the sprites of the characters dancing, giving more of a feel for the royal event it is. The music already adds a nice atmosphere, but more imagery would make it more effective.
I found Princess Elodie to be an interesting character. Her personality changes depending on how you train her, and it's really easy to root for her especially as you see her develop into a strong woman. Sometimes her naivety can be frustrating though, especially when you can tell that certain characters are just dodgy.
I liked Charlotte and Briony as well, and while a couple of users have requested for Elodie to marry her cousin Charlotte, I don't think this will happen. I've found Elodie's father, Joslyn to be a bit of a doormat.
Banion and his family can be either friends or foes depending on your choices in the game. Both Banion and his siblings, Benett and Brin can be suitors. Banion, in particular, can also be the one who kills you if you're not careful.
I have always loved this game! It's often compared and confused with a Japanese childcare simulation game known as Princess Maker 2, because of its similar graphics and gameplay. I love both games and they're quite different in their own way. The main difference lies in that there are many ways for Princess Elodie to die, whilst in Princess Maker 2, there are many ways to live.
It would seem that Princess Maker 2 outshines Long Live The Queen in every light, but I think this game does have its own merits. There's a lot of depth but I think its format means that a lot of that doesn't always get appreciated. These games do share one thing in common: the characters in their golden endings become badass queens.
Now when I play Long Live The Queen, I think of Elizabeth II and all other great Queens that ruled before her. There is a poignant sense of regalism and feminism in this game.
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