STAFF REVIEW of Little Goody Two Shoes (Xbox Series X)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024.
by Peggy Doyle

Little Goody Two Shoes Box art If there was something I didn’t expect from a game called Little Goody Two Shoes, it’s that it was a horror narrative adventure game. Oh, and it’s basically a cottagecore lesbian life sim. Talk about never judging a book by its cover (or a game by its title). I am a sucker for anything fairy tale inspired, even dark fairy tales, so I jumped at Little Goody Two Shoes without looking at it too much. The opening screen is something pulled right out of a Disney film, including the title presented in floating ribbons with a delightful song that should have had small animals frolicking as well. The lightheartedness quickly turns darker as your character begins in a dark forest as your starting point.

Developed by Astralshift and published by Square Enix, Little Goody Two Shoes has ten possible endings that fit into your choices and actions. All decisions matter. The game follows the story of a young girl named Elise who works as a maid for the local town folk. Like any fairytale, she longs for something better and wants to escape her menial life in the town of Kieferberg. Early in the game, she meets another young woman named Rozenmarine and after realizing she wasn’t the person who broke into her late grandmother's home, she takes her in, and they start living together.

Shortly afterwards, Elise finds a beautiful pair of red shoes that give her a glimpse of the future she dreams of. The promises of this dream life come from an entity known as "Him", and Elise begins her journey to gather gifts for Him and plan her escape from the small town she lives in.

Daily disasters occur and since Elise is openly argumentative with the townspeople, and Rozenmarine is a stranger who arrived around the time the disasters started, the townsfolk speculate there is witchcraft involved in the ill fortune that has come to them. There is a gameplay mechanic where you must try to balance the suspicion of people around you, as well as the suspicion between the three young women you eventually form romantic relationships with. Not all actions, conversations, and decisions will impact the outcome, but there is no way to determine which ones will impact your end game play, so tread with caution.

While the writing, story and overall narrative were strong, I found the audio voiceover's to be annoying at times. You will hear the same expressions multiple times, to the point that I eventually turned the voiceovers off and played using just the written dialogue and narration. “For goodness sake”, and “Rozenmarine” were used far too frequently in conversations for this to be enjoyable for me.

Topics of self-doubt, social prosecution, love, loss, and queerness are all handled with care, and no topic seems forced or trivial. The three love interests vary and are each quite compelling in their stories. Rozenmarine is the first, a traveller whose fate intertwines with Elise in a meeting of soul mates. It’s a sweet story and one I focused on primarily. There are multiple endings with each character, and I experienced everything from happy to outright soul-crushing. Video games are their best when they can make you actually feel emotions like this.

The second character is Lebkuchen, a nun, and the third is Freya, a young girl with a green thumb, representing the kinder side of the villagers. The Germanic influence in style and dialogue is ever present, reminding me of the darker version of Hansel and Gretel. And after playing for a while you always seem to see the dark behind the light-hearted sections as well as the light behind the dark ones. The contrasts at play in every section of the game.

The pixel aesthetic and art direction deserve special attention. The environments are complex and full, and while the cottage felt cozy, the woods felt eerie. Not something that is always easy to do with this style. The style of characters is aesthetically comparable to Shojo anime, big eyes and bright design dominate the characters you meet. This might be also why I struggled with the voice dialogue. I am generally not a fan of a lot of anime as I find they tend to rely on a few phases too often in conversations.

The music in Little Goody Two Shoes is lovely and, again, clearly done in the Shojo anime style. It was beautiful and easy to be swept away in. Melodies change between environments and times of day. Even with its horror elements, the majority of the game takes place outside of this, and I would consider this more of a cozy game than a horror game. The fact that it’s considered horror at all is slightly baffling to me, honestly. There are points where there is danger, but the horror is light in my opinion.

Since the game is based on fairy tales, the focus is less on directly scaring the player and more on the eerie dark and uneasy nature of the story. The horror components come into play during your sleep cycle, the Witching Hour, where you are trying to complete tasks for Him. This gameplay is in contrast to the light-hearted daytime gameplay in that it’s dark and eerie and often puzzle-based.

Along with the main story gameplay, you must also manage your time and hunger. The day cycle is divided into six sections, each represented by a loaf of bread, you need to balance the day with your food. Some tasks you take on for villagers will deplete an entire section of your day, so be aware. Multiple times I succumbed to my hunger depleting, and despite trying to always have enough food on me, never seemed to have enough money to buy what I needed. Money is earned by completing tasks for the villagers and these tasks are in the form of mini games, each with its own rules. None of them are particularly difficult to complete but do require some focus if you want to ace them and get the maximum rewards. So you need to do tasks to earn money to eat, but those tasks deplete your day.

Speaking to villagers may offer insight, but they may also pry about your relationships, raising the overall suspicion level of the town. After all, there is evil around, and your companions seemed to have arrived around the same time. Oh, and you also have to find time to romance or hang out with the three companions in the game, each of whom is only available at certain times of the day. There is a lot of time and resource management in the game. Romance isn’t simply a side quest in Little Goody Two Shoes, it’s an integral part of the story. Like any good romance, it takes work but the stories you unfold are worth it.

Saving regularly is important and is done manually at adorable clotheslines where a small bird will fly down for you to activate the save. There are a multitude of save points, and I suggest you take advantage of multiple slots in case you decide to hop back to a previous point at any time. Strategic saves can help you experience multiple endings in one playthrough if planned well.

While a horror/dating sim sounds like a strange combination, it works here. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I’d like the game mostly because of the voice lines, but I grew to adore how the story played out. Equal parts creepy and romantic, Little Goody Two Shoes is more similar to the dark fairy tale games I love than not, and I found myself drawn in like the Hans Christian Anderson stories I’m so fond of. Sometimes you find games outside of your comfort zone, and they make you wonder what you’ve been missing out on, Little Goody Two Shoes has done that for me. I think I may go look at some of the other titles Astralshift may have in store for me.

**Little Goody Two Shoes was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.2 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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