The big surprise of the visual novel Long Live the Queen is that contrary to its name, you probably won't live very long at all. Sure, it has all the frilly dresses and handsome princes you might expect, but it's got a lot of other things too: poisonings, stabbings, drowning and shootings awaiting you at nearly every turn.
As developer Hanako Games describes it: "Being a princess is not an easy job, especially when everyone else wants to kill you and take your stuff. Rule the world or die trying!"
Intrigue and assassination attempts abound in this game for PC, Mac and Linux, where you play as the pink-haired fourteen-year-old princess Elodie. You've just inherited the throne of a kingdom called Nova after the tragic death of your mother. Your kingly father is still alive, however, which leads me to believe that this is a fantasy world ruled through matrilineal primogeniture—where succession passes through women instead of men. Obviously, I approve.
Most of the game involves taking classes, and learning to be the very best queen you can be. You're told that your coronation is 40 weeks away, giving you plenty of time to brush up on the skills you need to rule—and to stay alive long enough to get your crown. While it's a wise idea to study traditional courtly virtues like composure and elegance, if you don't spend some time brushing up on history, naval strategy, or combat magic, all the manners in the world won't save you from the threats inside and outside your kingdom.
This is very much a number games, where you must anticipate which attributes are most important and assign Elodie's daily studies accordingly. Chances are that no matter what you do, you'll find yourself in situations where Elodie isn't up to snuff in one area or another. During an important ball, the game suddenly informed me that I didn't have enough skill to detect magic, meaning there was likely someone with supernatural powers around me. Who was it? Were they friend or foe? I'd missed my chance to figure it out, because I was too busy studying accounting and battlefield medicine.
Although there are opportunities for romance, this isn't really a dating sim; if anything, you're better off keeping your suitors at arm's length, especially since you can never quite tell whether they really want to marry you or murder you. But if you're interested in games that live at the intersection of magical girls and Game of Thrones, then Long Live the Queen is worth a play—or ten. Read more about Long Live the Queen and other princess games in this Offworld feature.