I bought Long Live the Queen during the Steam Sale for about $3. I thought "ok, a neat little Visual Novel/Sim. Should be good for a yuck." Now 4 hours later, I'm hooked. And I suck at it.

You play as Elodie, the princess of the country of Nova. Her mother, the queen, has just died and Elodie will be crowned the ruler of Nova on her 15th birthday. Your objective is simply to keep her alive to reach her coronation. In 4 hours I have failed to do that 5 times.

Under my watch, Elodie has been killed in a duel, poisoned, blew herself up, was strangled by magical chains, and shot through the gut by an arrow.

The gameplay is very simple, like most visual novels. You have 40 weeks. Every week you choose 2 classes for her to attend from a wide variety of subjects under four categories: Social, Physical, Intellectual, and Mystical. Every weekend, you indulge in certain activities that will change Elodie's mood, from sneaking out of the castle to playing sports. Depending on her mood, she may receive a bonus or penalty to skills she chooses to study. These skills are then tested against the many, many checkpoints throughout the game, with the outcomes affecting the story in some way, either large or small.

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For example, during my first playthrough, I hosted a tournament that I decided to participate in (I could have refused, but didn't). I was able to win due to my high skill in swordsmanship. After that, however, I was challenged to a duel by one of my political adversaries (he was a little miffed because I kind-of-sorta sentenced his mother to death for starting a rebellion against me). I passed the sword check, but failed the athletics check required after being tired from participating in the tournament and that was how my first playthough ended with a sword through Elodie's gut.

The next time, I was able to avoid a civil war by focusing more on the social and intellectual side of things, playing the court and nobles against each other with confusing court rhetoric, learning more about the history of the country and its neighbors, and digging up blackmail on my political adversaries.

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I still ended up 6 feet under when I was poisoned by a box of chocolate I didn't have the skills to notice.

And it keeps like that. Every time I successfully avoid what got me last time, something new manages to throw a wrench in everything and ruin my carefully laid plans.

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Frustrating? Yes, but more in the "I'll get this next time, I swear I will" kind of frustration instead of the "I quit this is so stupid" kind.

On the main menu is a checklist of events that fills itself out as you accomplish them, from records of how you died, unique decisions you've made, and how many of the 24 endings you've reached (of which I've only reached one. Death).

I still have 6 other ways to die left to fear, and I have a feeling I'll hit each one of them before I'm able to reach Elodie's coronation.