Editor's Note: Some spelling errors have been revised since the original publishing of this review. Maiyannah's copy of Long Live the Queen was provided free of charge as a gift from a reader.
Long Live the Queen is a "life-sim" game developed and published by Hanako Games. I'm not usually one drawn to the anime aesthetic so I approached this game with some skepticism. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game, while not flawless, really does what it sets out to do well. It has a good visual design, things are presented quite well and the music while limited and therefore repetitive fits the theme well and adds to the game. In short given the very few people involved the production values of the game are pretty high. It easily comes up to the same standards as competing Japanese games in the same vein that have entire studios behind them.
Probably the one thing that I was leery about knowing the tendencies of anime was how quickly things could get odd at best, but I found both romance and other parts of the game were done quite tastefully. I'll leave specific example out of this brief review as otherwise it would be the kind of spoilers that would get me spat on in the street, but it's kept quite clean. The game handles essentially as most other choose-your-own-adventure type games, also called life sims, you choose your actions for the given game week, and then react to the events of that week. In this particular game's case, you choose which classes to take in a week, getting to essentially chose two skills to improve. Those skills then get used to get through the events during the week.
Probably what I like the most about the game in this regards is that you can fail a good majority of these events and the various checks, and still get through the game. Many events have many different skills which can be applied to the resolution, which means you can get through situations in a variety of ways. This makes the game not just a slog through a linear progression, but rather a true choose-your-own-adventure game. Choices can and do have meaningful consequences, and how things turn out can vary dramatically given how you handle given events. What I appreciated a lot, because you do not see it very often if at all in modern gaming, is that sometimes events which may have seemed like a failure or a bad/cruel/needless thing to do at the time can actually help you in the future.
Another thing that helps the game along is the implementation of the surprisingly rare in modern times classical save system. While the argument rages about save-scumming to this day, the fact is that it remains a matter of personal choice whether to use saves in that matter and the ability to not be completely screwed if you make a bad choice and have to replay the whole game over does keep the frustration factor down.
The length of the game is another asset. It lasts just long enough to be fun and relate the story, without feeling drawn out or otherwise overstaying its welcome.
If I had any criticism of the game it is that the game interface is a little clunky. There's essentially three main screen - managing skills, moods, and lessons, and I feel you probably could have combined these screens and saved a lot of needless switching back and forth. The game doesn't relate that information in the most efficient and effective way, and you'll be constantly switching back and forth to check what mood your in, how it affects your skills, and so forth. This is to say nothing of the costumes added later, though that one probably is justified in being a separate screen.
All in all, it's not a genre-buster or something, but it's a good story that is well-told, combined with a good game competently made. It's not a shining star, more an efficient and well-made piece of machinery that perhaps will go under-appreciated, but good nonetheless. Worth playing, especially if you're a fan of the genre, but even if you're not - and by my own admission I really am not - you'll probably find the game worth the price of admission at least. I know I do.