Otome is wish fulfillment, with the greatest focus being on finding a boyfriend/girlfriend in one of many romantic scenarios. However, for this round, we’ve abandoned the wish of romance for the wish of power: what would you do if you were suddenly queen of the whole kingdom?
Hanako Games returns to our review table, with a title that is both bizarre and insanely difficult. Long Live the Queen is royal strategy simulator, with far more freedom than previous games featured here and twice the danger. Instead of chasing bishie-boys for that elusive happy ending, players must make decisions to train themselves in a perpetual game of skill: you come unprepared, you could very well die.
If you dare, enter
You are fourteen year old Elodie, princess of the kingdom of Nova. Your poor mother, Fidella, has just met her untimely end and you’ve been pulled from the safety of your boarding school to become the new queen. You must train yourself to rule as best you can and possibly to pick up magical mantele left over from your mother. But there are others who will gladly take that power away from you and there are lethal dangers everywhere you look.
But at least you’ll be a well-trained dead-girl
The goal is to survive to your fifteenth birthday, when you’ll be officially coronated as the queen. But can you handle the many twists and turns of a selfish court that will happily slit your throat for power? Or will you slit others throats in return, becoming just as nasty as they are?
Long Live The Queen may not be concerned with wish-fulfilment romance, but still has all the basic trimmings of a visual novel/sim. As the story unfolds you’ll be called to make basic decisions that dictate the ending, for better or for worse. But, like other Hanako titles, the game also features sim-like stat building, which could very well save your life in game.
So how do we protect ourselves? Well, it starts here on the home screen. Elodie is here to take classes after all, lots of them. There are thirteen different education branches, with three different classes in each. This is an overwhelming amount of skills the player can learn and any of these really could be the difference between success and failure. You, as the player, have to make calculated decisions weeks in advanced, building certain stats to perfection while letting others rot away. This means that sometimes Elodie will look like the inexperienced child that she is. Other times, if you play your cards right, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
You get free time on the weekends, which you can spend doing whatever you want in the castle. This plays into the second part of this game: Elodie’s mood. Each activity pushes Elodie into a certain mood: Depressed, Angry, Scared, Yielding, Willing, or Cheerful. Some activities will take away from one of these; others will add to them. Mood will add either a penalty or bonus towards learning specific skills. This makes strategizing over the weekend absolutely essential, as it allows her to learn some skills much faster.
And there are times when learning one skill faster than the other is essential. As you go through the weeks, you’ll be faced with several political challenges. Some may just be diplomatic disputes; others are outright assassination attempts. It’s up to the player to decide what kind of queen they wanna be to keep Elodie alive. She can fall flat on their face or become the most powerful woman in the kingdom. It all depends on how you play.
Hanako Games never skimps on the attractive, anime-esque art. This time, they’ve leaned towards a very distinct, magical girl art, with a rainbow of bright colors. In fact, my biggest complaint about the art is only that I don’t get to see very much of it. There’s no CG’s to speak of until you get to the end of the game, and most of the time you’re either staring at an empty background or the outside of the castle.
That being said, there are periods where props or important moments get emphasis, and the art that follows is downright beautiful. And you even get stained glass windows at the end if you bought the steam version.
- Romantic Interests Paths
So here, normally, is where I talk about the different romantic options you have in game. However, since this game is far more focused on the political aspect than the romantic one, there aren’t very many to speak of. Elodie certainly has some marriage prospects, but they have no discernible personalities beyond want of power and how gruff they are. Instead, the player has the choice of deciding what kind of person Elodie is.
There are over 24 different kinds of endings, too many to recount here, so we’ll narrow it down to three: the good, the bad, and the magical. Keep in mind that this is just from what I’ve played of the game, both here and in my own free time, and everyone gets their own unique experience.
- The Good:
If you’ve avoided the cruel executions, blackmails, and defeated all the magical/military threats that pop onto Nova’s doorstep, you can make it to the coronation and get one of the many good endings. Being a benevolent monarch isn’t easy, but there is a sense of pride in knowing you kept your good standing through all of this.
The good endings, like it or not, required a heavy amount of approval from the commoners. This means lots of reasonable compromise, decisions that likely aren’t in favor of the nobility, and avoiding all cruel actions. This also means planning ahead for several border disputes and territorial threats that come into play later, be it by military strategy or magic (to be discussed later). You can even add a marriage onto one of these endings, tying yourself to one of the eligible bachelors and gaining whatever power you want from it. The game doesn’t make the good endings easier or harder than the others, and there really is a sense of accomplishment when you get to that coronation screen.
- The Bad
Ah, but some of us may find being a goody-two-shoes to be boring or maybe Elodie just isn’t very good and the kingdom falls. All are viable options in “the bad” endings, depending on how cruel or inept you really want to be.
The tyrannical approach is actually rather easy and deals with a lot of problems early on. It involves raising your hidden “cruelty” stat with lots of executions, public displays of brutality, and just general sadistic things out in the open. Or, if you really lust for power, you can even surrender your throne and become the servant of an evil king. Really, I’m rather impressed with just how bad of a person this game will let you be. How many other VN’s are perfectly fine with the player being an outright tyrant?
- The Magical
So, because this game is a fantasy game, it introduces the element of magic. Elodie’s mother was what the game calls a Lumen: a magical user who gets their power from their crystal. The problem is that Elodie’s father, Joclyn, is against Elodie learning any magic. Her mother died from using her magic, from being drained to save the kingdom. But, if the player so desires, they can bypass their father and get their lumen powers. It adds a whole new level of gameplay and some amazing story arcs.
- Final Verdict
Long Live the Queen is an odd addition to this series, what with its lack of romantic elements and heavy focus on politics and strategy. But the idea of putting a very young lady in a seat of such power, surrounded by danger on all sides, is exhilarating enough that it earns itself a shiny passing grade. This game is hard and will not hold your hand at all, but it’s super rewarding if you can figure it out.
Next Time: Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve
How did you do in Long Live the Queen? Is this game truly an Otome? Feel free to leave comments below. If you like this post, follow for updates on more just like it. And don’t forget to like if you’re so inclined!