[Preview] Little Goody Two Shoes

If you’ve never heard of the classic fairy tale “The Story of Little Goody Two Shoes,” don’t worry, you’re not alone. This story, more than 250 years old, may have been one of the first children’s books to reach a wide English audience, but the story of a poor orphan’s journey to a life of wealth has become established in the cultural zeitgeist, unlike any other classics from this period have. That hasn’t stopped Square Enix Collective – the JRPG giant’s indie publishing division – from greenlighting an experimental new release called Little Goody Two Shoes, which they describe as a “mysterious new fairy-tale anime adventure with a dark twist.” I recently had the opportunity to demo this unusual title at PAX West, and although I had no idea what to expect, what I played was unsettling, beautiful, and instantly captivating.


Developed by studio AstralShift, Little Goody Two Shoes is a top-down adventure that follows a girl named Elise who is tired of her humble life in the countryside and the demands placed on her by her acquaintances. But while the original book portrays its protagonist as an ambitious, kind and independent girl (at least for the time) who is meant to serve as a role model, the main character of Little Goody Two Shoes immediately exudes entitlement and selfishness. Perhaps that’s why, shortly after my demo begins, she awakens in a surreal nightmare realm that resembles a twisted version of her fantasy of a life of luxury.

My initial task is to help Elise navigate a seemingly opulent bedroom in a palace or villa. Almost immediately, strange events begin to happen – sounds echo in the distance, lights begin to flicker, and a ghostly spirit appears, muttering about what it means to be reincarnated. Here the game tells me that I should be careful about leaving Elise in the shadows for too long, as her sanity will be damaged if she has too many supernatural encounters. After rummaging through some furniture, I find a key and manage to escape the confines of the room.


As Elise progresses deeper through long marble-floored halls, the situation worsens as the warm glow of the sunset is replaced by an eerie red glow. Elise takes a lantern, which, when equipped, gives her enough light to banish her fear. She soon finds herself in a huge room full of floating candles that surround her, hitting her and injuring her when Elise gets too close. This section is more like a stealth game, with me snaking Elise around walls and through bookshelves, trying to find a way out. Things get even stranger from there as Elise eventually finds herself in a surreal void full of strange creatures that begin dancing around her as she runs towards the exit and tries to wake up.

The visual style of Little Goody Two Shoes is generally bright and colorful, and the gorgeously detailed art feels straight out of a storybook, right down to the menus with their parchment backgrounds and inked fonts. Then there are the beautiful anime-style character portraits, with their expressive facial features and lively mannerisms, some of the most detailed and authentic to the medium I’ve seen in recent games. It’s perhaps not what you’d expect from a game that’s so quick to try to unsettle the player, but many fairy tales underline their more positive themes with darker undertones; Even when Elise awakens and re-enters the real world, the rustic cosiness of her family’s home is something quite different from many good crime novels. It reminds me a lot of last year’s excellent Beacon Pines, which used its cute animal characters to lure the player into a feeling of false comfort, while a dark secret lurked in the background and slowly revealed itself. While I never delve into outright horror, at least not in my limited demo, Little Goody Two Shoes’ moody music and rich ambient soundscape hint at dark forces operating in the distance, as if Elise is constantly being watched by something sinister on the way would.


The difference between Little Goody Two Shoes is the breadth of its surreality and how it kept me on my toes by finding ways to make the whole experience stranger with each new scene. One scene in particular, which occurs shortly after Elise is accused of witchcraft (and which I promised Square Enix not to reveal), drastically changes the tone and aesthetic of the game in such a jarring direction that I was genuinely shocked. Without going into too much detail, it was as if I had suddenly changed the channel and tuned into a hallucinogenic skit that would have been seen on Adult Swim in the early hours of circa 2010. It was so strange.

Beyond the strong focus on storytelling, I feel like Little Goody Two Shoes has more systemic depth than I realized. There is a calendar system and a day/night cycle that could be little more than a narrative device, but seem to allude to some possible elements of time management. During the day, when Elise is not stuck in her dreams and nightmares, she has opportunities to socialize and interact with the residents of the neighboring village, including dating sim elements. Players will also have to meet some of Elise’s basic needs, such as hunger, and will apparently perform physical odd jobs around the city in the form of mini-games to help her make a living. There are at least some elements of player-driven choice in the game, as the developers have shared that the game has ten different endings depending on how players progress through the story.


Little Goody Two Shoes tries to fuse literary and gaming genres in a really exciting way, and by the end of my demo I was really intrigued by the direction the mystery seemed to be going. Whether AstralShift Gets All the Pieces Together Putting its vision together, this game could be a fascinating subversion of classic fairy tales, and I’m confident that the project’s creativity will attract some attention based on its artistry alone. Little Goody Two Shoes does not have a release date, but will appear on Switch and other platforms as soon as it is ready.

Isaiah Colbert

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