Monday, June 6, 2016

Long Live The Queen - 2/20 hours

In two hours, I've played through this game three times. Once I was stabbed by an enraged nobleman. Once a conspiracy of my vassals organized a rebellion and left me on the throne as a figurehead queen with no real power. The third time, I finally managed to survive until my coronation, but in the process, my father died and my country suffered a humiliating military defeat.  It was a bitter-sweet experience. I was glad that, after ten hours of playing this game, I was able to at last make it to the end, but I got the feeling that I managed to find the worst "good" ending in the game (though I probably also found the best "bad" ending as well).

Oh well, that just gives me incentive to try again, though after three playthroughs of the game, I'm starting to think that I'll never have a systematic way of working my way through the various plots. The way Long Live the Queen works is that every game week, you choose two things for Elodie, the main character, to study. And then at the end of the week, there is an event where you have to make a choice or face some obstacle or danger that is compared to one of your skills. Each choice, and each successful or failed skill check, puts you on a different path of a gigantic "choose-your-own-adventure" story.

It's actually quite difficult to keep the various branches of the story straight. Because you don't have enough time to develop all of your necessary skills, it is inevitable that your are going to fail at least some of the challenges, but since failed challenges bring up entirely new events, even small variations in your training order can have large effects on the story.  It's all strictly determined, but it feels unpredictable.

Usually, dying in a video game, especially one where you have to build up a character and then start from scratch if anything bad happens, really upsets me. Long Live the Queen (so far) is different. I think because it presents itself so much like fiction, so while I'm interested in Elodie's story, I'm not particularly invested in her survival. It is just as entertaining seeing her die in strange and unexpected ways as it is seeing her succeed.

Which brings me to the thing that makes me uncomfortable about playing Long Live the Queen. So much of the game is hidden. I can never be entirely sure that I've seen everything there is to see. I tried writing down a list of the skill checks and their particular times, but on two consecutive playthroughs, the overlap was only about 50% (more similarity at the beginning, less at the end). I'm feeling really uncertain about how to approach this game. I want to be systematic, but what does that even mean?

If this seems like I'm overthinking it, it's probably worth bearing in mind that for all of Long Live the Queen's admirable diversity (and it really is impressive how many branches there are in what is essentially a short story), it also has a lot of repetition. And while repetition doesn't bother me per se, it can be extremely frustrating when you know there's more discover, if you but knew where to look.


  1. I feel like at some point, just for a change of pace, you should play 20 hours of a board game.


    1. That does sound fun, but I'd need a one-player board game and a way to keep my cats from scattering the pieces between sessions.