I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I found cartoons based on fairytales absolutely terrifying. This is most likely because the ones I ended up watching were based on the rather horrific source material that inspired many of the lighter stories, rather than the child friendly versions. There was one featuring a mad scientist character that was particularly disturbing…
Anyhow, Little Goody Two Shoes opens with a wonderfully animated splash screen and whimsical tune that could easily feature in one of the animated Disney films from the 1930s. However, the opening cutscene is reminiscent of a classic Japanese anime, offering up an interesting but effective combination of genres that results in this being one very pretty game to look at indeed.
However, before long it’s pretty evident this is a story that would feel much more at home in the Grimm Tales collection. Despite the seemingly idyllic Bavarian setting that feels like something straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen folktale, all is not what it seems. This is a horror story, and despite the PEGI 12 rating, I found it pretty troubling at times.
The protagonist, an ambitious young lass named Elise, has dreams of getting filthy rich despite coming from humble beginnings. It just so happens that she stumbles on some beautiful red shoes in her very own backyard, which sets her on a path fraught with intrigue, temptation and danger.
Little Goody Two Shoes is really effective in telling a story which is well paced, and perfectly suited to the genre. There’s mystery, paranoia and a constant threat of unease which not only creates tension, but really raises the stakes as things progress. The characters are given plenty to say, but thankfully each adds to the richness of the narrative. There is an option to whack the speech on auto, or even skip through it altogether (most of the time).
There’s a pretty consistent day and night cycle at play, which is made up of six phases. In order for time to pass, you will need to complete menial odd jobs around town, or deepen relationships by spending quality time with good friends and potential love interests. However, you’ll need to keep Elise well fed because her hunger will grow with the passing of time (this is represented by little bread icons).
There are only a handful of chores to do, but these are presented as adorable retro style mini games, complete in their own bespoke arcade cabinet. They are simple enough, such as chopping wood or catching apples, but are a lot of fun and are a real flex in terms of just how much creativity has gone into Little Goody Two Shoes. This is a game which can cross from one genre to another, but make it feel seamless.
Things, of course, are not so straightforward. The townsfolk, who are naturally on edge due to unusual goings on, will be constantly suspicious so you will need to prevent gossiping, and skillfully answer questions to keep yourself from being accused of being a witch. There’s a certain young lady you’ll need to keep onside to stop the situation spiralling out of control also.
It could well be said that it’s all the humdrum stuff that happens in the day, yet the bulk of the action happens at night in the woods (during the witching hour to be precise) and this is where the story advances at great leaps at the end of each day.
What unfolds is often a trial for poor Elise, who is seeking those untold riches by aiming to impress the often talked about, and ever mysterious “Him” by gathering several offerings. It’s these segments of play that present a real challenge, in a struggle for survival against all sorts of supernatural malevolence.
There’s no actual combat in Little Goody Two Shoes, but instead Elise will need to avoid monsters and solve puzzles to survive each night. Doing so can feel a little random, which means you’ll die a lot. Even if you figure out what it is you are meant to be doing (which isn’t always clear), going about it often turns out to be a game of chance.
For example in one area nasty birds hide in the trees, but some shake, supposedly meaning they are the dangerous ones. However, there’s no actual strategy for avoiding them as the giant birds pop out to peck your health away one by one, so you just have to leg it and hope for the best. This is probably a good time to mention that you will need to save, because death can catch you out very suddenly, and there’s no autosave safety net to catch you.
Out in the hostile woods is where you cross into these hellish realms and healing items along with concoctions to keep Elise sane will prove crucial if you have any hope of surviving. Thankfully, there are a couple of shops in town which are stocked with plenty of essential items that can be purchased with cash collected from completing your chores.
There are no less than ten possible endings in Little Goody Two Shoes depending on the decisions you make in the game. Given the tone, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that many don’t end well for poor Elise, so as you approach the final act each decision you make holds even greater importance.
Little Goody Two Shoes is one of those games which really caught me off guard, and ended up being different to what I was expecting. Thanks to the effective storytelling, it kept me playing until the (often) grisly end. I know I’ve said it already, but it’s bloody scary in parts too.
Little Goody Two Shoes is a wonderfully creative, and genuinely unsettling fairytale, in the truest sense. Despite a few bumps in the road, Elise’s journey is a foray into a fantasy world that doesn’t often have a happy ending, but is an enjoyable ride while it lasts.