Fairytale horror is a classic genre in many mediums; there’s something intriguing about mixing the sweet and the macabre. While numerous video games have attempted the cute-but-spooky style, few have captured my attention quite like this one.
A Captivating Blend of Genres
Little Goody Two Shoes is a genre-spanning RPG following Elise, a young woman exploring the dark machinations of the forest surrounding her home. While avoiding the fatal suspicions of local villagers, Elise will slowly uncover the mysteries surrounding the forest, the secrets of her late grandmother, and the unknowns of her own past. Between helping villagers around town and investigating the forest, you’ve also got time for a little romance! Elise can pursue three women in the game: Freya, Rosenmarine, and Lebkuchen, each with unique stories and ties to the wider lore. Love and work are only for the day, however, and at night things take a sinister turn. Elise’s dreams are plagued by the twisted halls of a nightmarish castle. Run, fight, and solve its mysteries if you want to live to see the morning.
Little Goody Two Shoes has its fingers in many pies, but a strong focus on tone and aesthetic ties its many elements together to create a breathtaking gaming experience. Suffice it to say, this game was a big undertaking, but the development team, Astral Shift, has done a phenomenal job.
Impeccable Attention to Detail
To start, I applaud the creators for the love and attention to detail poured into this game. Every element, from item menus to death screens, is beautifully rendered in a 90s anime style. No part of this game is left half-done, and passion for the world and story is evident in every sprite, symbol, and dialogue box. The game seamlessly jumps between visual-novel-like scenes, RPG exploration, and arcade-style mini-games. Some horror elements of the game even incorporate claymation to add a chilling dissonance to the monster designs. It’s clear that Astral Shift has incredibly talented artists on their team, and they have a great sense for tonal consistency. The game is worth it for the opening sequence alone, with a full animation and theme song to rival that of your favorite shojo.
Speaking of which, the music in this game is beautiful! The score is masterfully tailored to the genre and sequences and fits the aesthetic of the game wonderfully. The sound effects are simple yet effective, allowing you to settle into the world while still delivering unnerving support in those horror moments. It’s also semi-voice acted! The voice lines are sparing, providing enough to set the tone without weighing down gameplay.
Balancing Genres with Elegance
The writing of Little Goody Two Shoes walks the lines between genres quite well, introducing slow-burn horror while keeping a nice balance with dating sim and investigation elements. The beautiful charm of the surface aesthetic often blinds you to the horrors lurking beneath, making the night sequences all the more confronting. The pacing and balance of these styles are done very well, allowing each genre to bounce off and enhance one another. Through this, the dialogue and character development remain nicely consistent and tonally aligned; each character feels like they’ve stepped from a classic anime, and the writing perfectly reflects the dialogue trends of that time period.
A lot of attention is paid to making the world feel grounded in its own reality. Villagers bicker amongst themselves, characters have their own unique pursuits, and emphasis is put on the effort of everyday life. It’s this attention in the writing that helps to elevate the horror, which is given more substance against the grounded portrayal of the rest of the world.
Inclusive Dating Sim Element
I also need to note my excitement over the dating sim element. Not only is horror and dating a unity of my two favorite genres, but the only available relationships are queer. Outside of spicy (and often offensive) dating sims, it can be rare to find an all-fem romance cast, especially so when it’s multi-genre. Seeing this unashamed approach to sapphic romance that still allows itself to be sweet and gentle was an absolute joy and is something I hope to see more of.
Harmonious Gameplay Mechanics
Now for the gameplay itself. There is a wide range of mechanics explored here, but thankfully, they all work comfortably with each other and never become too convoluted or confusing. Between dating, working, and dodging, there’s a lot you’ll need to learn but all is introduced slowly and simply. (That being said, I did struggle to find the romance menu, but I was also being very unobservant. You just click on the gold locket in the menu).
Each day is split up into six time periods, and different activities can be undertaken to move on to the next one, work and dates being the main events you’ll use. Dates tend to revolve around conversation in unique scenes and locations, but work is portrayed as a range of mini-games with simple arcade-style mechanics. Collecting eggs, for example, has you quickly snatching as many as you can in 30 seconds without accidentally hitting a chicken.
A lot of the narrative is dispensed through dialogue which plays in a visual-novel style through different scenes, as well as additional conversations with idle NPCs. While most dialogue follows a linear script, there are occasional branching options which can impact your suspicion level or uncover extra work options. There are also multiple endings, and of course, different girls to pursue.
Tiny Mechanical Hiccup
I had a great experience with this game, but it’s only fair to mention the tiny issue I ran into. Finding the correct spot to stand in to pick up or engage with an item could sometimes be a bit tricky and I’d often have to walk back and forth trying to find it. In saying this, it’s a negligible issue in my mind. While it could get a touch frustrating, the rest of the game is fantastic, and this tiny mechanical hiccup didn’t affect my gameplay much in the long run.
I absolutely adored Little Goody Two Shoes. Every element was developed with so much care and passion, and it culminated in an enthralling experience I’ve rarely seen before in a video game. Each frame is visually stunning and ties in beautifully with the compelling narrative. I love this approach to horror, allowing it to simmer and expand under its cherubic exterior, unafraid to let cuter elements be its counterpart. The characters were engaging, and the range of mechanics worked excellently in exploring the varying elements of the story. If you’re a fan of a good character-oriented RPG, passionately developed indie games, or unique horror narrative adventures, I highly recommend trying this one out. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
And for God’s sake, save your game!
Editor’s Note: Patch would never shamelessly plug their YouTube content, so I will! You can check out their gameplay series of Little Goody Two Shoes here!