Royal ruling and role playing are the order of the day in Hanako games’ “Long Live the Queen”. Published in 2012, this delightfully dark visual novel places you in the role of Elodie, a 14 year old princess who must make careful choices if she is to survive to her coronation. I’ve personally played through this game at least 50 times, so I feel this a game truly deserving of review!
The game’s story is quite literally the center-point of the entire thing, being a visual novel it relies on you being interested in the story and the way that the choices you make have an effect, and OH MY do they have an effect!! This game is quite literally all about the choices you make, and there are constant choices available! Every choice you make will affect the path the story takes, who lives, who dies, and what kind of ending you will get.
The plot itself is difficult to explain, seeing as how it branches off and has so many different paths and endings. However, the basic story of the game involves Elodie taking on the months before her coronation after the untimely death of her mother as she gets embroiled in war, politics, espionage, and magical exploits! The game is fairly short, requiring 2-3 hours for a single playthrough, however often you won’t even reach the end on your first few tries. Instead, there are many, MANY ways for you to die horribly…
Now, where would any decent visual novel be without it’s characters; after all, they are the life and soul of the game! Now, sadly, many of the characters encountered in game are more or less side characters who are only fleshed out when their stories are dug into, sometimes requiring you to make skill checks to get the option. However, the game boasts a few very interesting characters, and quite a few well written female characters to boot! Not to mention a healthy dose of LGBT representation. Two of Elodie’s instructors in the game are lesbians, and, if the proper requirements are met, they will be married at the end of the game!
Elodie herself has a possible female romantic partner whom she can be with by the end as well. As a character, Elodie is just as difficult to describe as the story, as she and her personality change to match the player’s choices, either becoming a vicious warlord, a smiling flatterer, a yielding diplomat, or many other possible changes. But it’s always amazing to see the choices and circumstances that affect her growth!
As a visual novel, the gameplay itself is rather simple, it’s all making choices. However, there is quite a bit of complexity in the choices you make! The most prevalent choices are Elodie’s classes, as these are the only way to increase her skills! Skill growth is affected by her mood, each mood granting bonuses to certain skills and penalties to others. Therefore, weekend activities must be chosen wisely as they will push her mood in different ways. Also involved is the making of choices throughout the game, certain choices will benefit you; others will kill you!
Due to the format of the game, I can’t really say much about the graphics as the game is composed entirely of anime sprites and illustrated backgrounds. What I can say is that the art is gorgeous and nicely stylized, the character art is all well done and solid, and that the music, while simple, is nice and enjoyable. My biggest complaint for the game is the lack of major plot screens, illustrations that come up during major moments in the story, something of a staple in visual novels. However, there are death screens that appear when Elodie is killed, and also screens that explain your choices at the end of the game.
Overall, this is a solid game with a fun story, interesting characters and almost limitless replayability! If you enjoy that, I’d definitely advise picking it up.