Fairy tales possess the uncanny ability to be both whimsical and terrifying, and many video game developers have drawn inspiration from the nearly infinite library of wonder tales out there to craft some memorable video games.
Goody Little Two Shoes, a recently released folklore-inspired narrative-driven horror title, has the honor of sitting on a higher shelf than many of its peers.
Brought to us by the European branch of legendary developer Squire Enix, Goody Litle Two Shoes is a delightful experience that blends romance simulation, resource management, puzzle-solving, and survival horror into a satisfying package. Even as someone who usually shies away from dating sims, Little Miss Goody Two Shoes’ intriguing story and fulfilling gameplay cycle made this fairy tale hard to put down.
Story: Once upon a Time, in the Town of Keiferburg…
The story of Miss Goody Two Shoes follows Elise, a young girl struggling to make ends meet in the small town of Keiferburg. As often happens in fairy tales, Elise’s quiet but painfully dull life is uprooted by a sudden turn of events. In this case, the turn of events is the unexpected appearance of Rozenmarine, a strange girl whose arrival corresponds with a sudden outbreak of harrowing hauntings that puts every soul in Keiferburg on edge.
Upon learning of Rosenmarine’s connection to “Him,” a sinister entity who claims to be capable of granting wishes, Elise sets out to earn this occult benefactor’s favor to achieve her dream of becoming wealthy. Along the way, Elise works to keep herself fed and clothed, struggles to prevent the growing sense of paranoia in Kieferberg from reaching a boiling point, and makes friends with several girls her age who force her to question whether she wants to leave Keiferburg behind to live a life of luxury.
Gameplay: The Girl, The Town, and the Monsters
Little Goody Two Shoes’ gameplay can be broken down into two distance styles, each tied to the time of day. When the sun is up, you can explore Keiferberg and the surrounding areas, talking to townsfolk and taking on small odd jobs to fill your pocket and put food on the table. Unlike many other life simulation games, the jobs in Little Goody Two Shoes take on the form of arcade-inspired minigames that are as fun to play as they are diverse in design. Speaking personally, I enjoyed the minigames so much that I genuinely forgot I had to play them to make money.
When you aren’t playing minigames, your time in the sun will be spent talking to and forming relations with NPCS. Like any dating simulator, Little Goody Two Shoes features a group of potential romantic partners for Elise, all of whom can be romanced through the game’s refreshingly simple relationship-building system. By talking to each potential partner, you can arrange romantic outings where you learn more about each girl and further their storyline. Each of Elise’s possible other halves is charming and fun to spend time with, and all have surprising hidden depths that reveal themselves as you get to know them better.
Unfortunately, time isn’t on your side in Little Goody Two Shoes. Whenever you go on a date with your partner of choice or perform any action that furthers the game’s story, the in-game clock will march forward. The advancement of time consumes a bit of the precious food you spend most of the game gathering, but it also ushers in the arrival of night, where the darker side of Little Goody Two Shoes’ gameplay makes itself known.
Whenever the sun goes down, the so-called “Witching Hour” takes effect, and events always seem to force Elia to venture into the Woodlands beyond Kiefberg. During these excursions, Little Goody Two Shoes becomes a terrifyingly competent horror game reminiscent of RPG-Maker horror classics like Ao Oni. The woodlands and dreamscapes Elise must journey through are filled with nightmarish monsters, and the path to safety and progression is always locked behind a puzzle that must be solved while these creatures are hunting you.
Unfortunately, while the Woodlands sequences are terrifying, they’re also the points where the flaws in Goody Little Two Shoes’ gameplay start to show. These segments equip Elise with a health meter that monsters can eat through very quickly if you aren’t careful. I ended up dying more than a few times during these segments, usually because I couldn’t react to a surprise button-mashing or quick-input challenge that came out of nowhere. It didn’t help that these sections often end in challenging boss fights, many of which killed me about a dozen times until I finally figured out how to beat them.
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Thankfully, the difficulty of the Woodlands levels is dampened by the abundance of checkpoints scattered throughout them. So even though I had a tough time with a few sections of the Woodlands, I wasn’t stuck on them for very long, and I was more than ready to face off against the horrors hidden beyond the lights of the town by the time the sun set the next day.
Visuals and Audio: St. Walpurgis is Bountiful
As someone who has always been drawn to video games with distinctive art styles, I was almost immediately bewitched by Little Goody Two Shoes’ graphics. The very first trailer for the game showcased its 1990s-anime-inspired art style, and I’m happy to report that it looks incredible. Drawing noticeable influence from iconic anime like Sailor Moon and The Vision of Escaflowne, every central character in Little Goody Two Shoes boasts a distinct design that is straightforward enough to convey everything you need to know about them while having small touches and details that help bring them to life.
For any who may have been concerned, the impressiveness of Little Goody Two Shoes’ visuals doesn’t stop at the in-game character portraits. Kiefberg and the picturesque hills and forests surrounding it are positively oozing with visual flair. The rich, bright color pallet of the game’s daylight segments looks like something straight out of a children’s fairy tale book, and minor visual touches like having the minigames play out on in-game arcade machines add to the charm.
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However, as much as I loved the pleasant warmth of Little Goody Two Shoe’s daytime segments, the visuals of its nighttime sections left me utterly speechless. Shadows creep in around scarce sources of light, landscapes that were once familiar dissolve into surreal realms of terror, and cut-out abominations straight out of Puella Magi Madoka Magica creep out from the darkness. These segments also love to splice in live-action footage like an analog horror web series, so I hope you’re ready for some hardcore, uncanny juxtaposition.
The Verdict: A Tale Worth Remembering
With so many different gameplay styles, Little Goody Two Shoes quickly could have emerged from the oven as an overstuffed and undercooked product. Instead, every element of the game works in tandem to deliver an excellent experience that, much like its inspiration, manages to be whimsical, terrifying, and heartfelt all at the same time. Whether you are screaming in terror or crying tears of joy, Little Goody Two Shoes is a game that fans of life simulators, romance visual novels, and horror shouldn’t gloss past.
- This article was updated on November 8th, 2023