Little Goody Two Shoes PAX West 2023: horror adventure, 90's anime art, and arcade minigames
Little Goody Two Shoes immediately made a striking first impression when Square Enix announced it last year. It’s developed by AstralShift, the Portugal-based studio behind horror adventure Pocket Mirror. This new title is the latest in line for the Square Enix Collective indie game initiative.
Upon first glance, it capitalizes on what is one of AstralShift’s strongest qualities - capturing the charm of 90’s anime through its visual design. Little Goody Two Shoes’s main character, Elise, looks like she came out from that era with her exaggerated eyes, pointy chin, and disproportionate facial features that captures the lively essence of what made that time period in anime distinct.
Although this title has story ties to Pocket Mirror, it isn’t essential to understand what’s going on. Elise lives in the small town of Kieferberg and she wishes to be rich someday. She often spends her days helping out the local villagers with various tasks. Then, Elise discovers a pair of red shoes in her backyard by chance; these enigmatic shoes are tied to something much deeper and much darker.
While this game was initially described to be a “horror role-playing adventure” upon its initial announcement, an updated description that accompanied its recent ‘Reveal Trailer’ says that Little Goody Two Shoes is a “horror narrative adventure” now. Even after playing it for a little over half an hour, I have to admit that the title isn’t quite a RPG; nevertheless, RPG players may find several elements about it quite enjoyable.
The PAX West demo of Little Goody Two Shoes started me off in the middle plaza of Kieferberg. I checked my map to get a better sense of my surroundings and where to go. Imagine my surprise when I was met with a lovely sketch drawing of the village to serve as its overview map screen and Elise’s chibi sprite standing right inside it. Checking the map also brings up a Chores list, which basically lists what activities are available to Elise to pass the in-game time.
These activities have labels to indicate the nature of what type of event they are; I recall seeing distinct labels for romantic events and merely assisting a villager platonically. I figured that lending help to someone in need would be a fitting use for a limited-time demo, rather than trying to make sense of Elise’s romantic pursuits without any context.
So, I skedaddled over to the left side of the plaza to see a marked NPC that was on my list of Chores. There’s something to be said about Elise thinking of aiding residents or getting closer to other people as chores, but whatever. The townsperson I decided to spend time with needed some assistance in chopping wood; seems easy enough.
All of a sudden, a unique art piece of an unenthusiastic Elise about to cleave some logs was displayed before transitioning over to an… arcade cabinet? It wasn’t even a full-sized one. Rather, it reminded me more of the smaller wooden ones you might’ve come across at a Chuck E. Cheese - the ones that made you do some sort of challenge to win tickets to exchange for a prize, instead of playing an actual video game on it.
Luckily, Little Goody Two Shoes does allow you to play a real game on it - well, a simple minigame at least. This errand consists of two buttons. One button is to chop and the other is to kick. The NPC will either put a log to chop or something else on the platform; chop the wood and kick everything else. A time limit is placed on you, so slice (or punt) as much as you can before time runs out. You’ll get all sorts of things to boot from chickens, goats, and anvils.
Elise’s model in this chopping minigame threw me for a bit of a loop. Its chibi proportions were eerily similar to the characters in Super Puzzle Fighter. I also couldn’t tell if the music somewhat resembled Chun-Li’s theme or if I was just hearing things at that point.
After finishing up the minigame, your final score gives you a letter grade. I’m not sure if this affects something in the grand scheme of things or if it’s just to pat yourself on the back.
Undertaking this task changed the time of day to evening. All the previous choices from the Chores list were now gone and replaced with a few new ones instead. I imagine the events I didn’t choose will pop up again on another day; I wasn’t able to check to confirm this though.
The next NPC I met up with was a young girl that unfortunately got picked on to deal with some sort of rat-related prank from a few boys. Elise steps into yet another minigame and this time accompanied by another piece of gorgeous artwork before opening an arcade cabinet once more.
This time, I had to throw back rats that were being thrown at Elise from two other people at opposite sides. Incoming rats were highlighted in either yellow or blue, so the two buttons for this minigame were to press the corresponding color of the incoming rodent heading towards Elise.
Time passes in Kieferberg again; now it’s night time. It’s dark, windy, and things feel off; I can no longer roam around the village as freely as I did a few moments ago. Oh that’s right… this is a horror game too.
After speaking to some NPCs to get a grasp on the state of things, I eventually make my way northwest towards Elise’s home. I learn that Elise shares her home with another character whom she refers to as Rosmarine, though the character is insistent that Elise calls her by her real name - Rozenmarine. As the two are about to turn in for the night, they hear a mysterious sound just outside the house.
Elise goes to investigate. She finds a girl that is asking for a pretzel. I declined her offer to see what happens and the game notified me that Elise’s suspicion level rose. Based on the initial reveal’s mention of having a “Reputation & Suspicion” mechanic in Little Goody Two Shoes,
I’m guessing that reaching thresholds one way or the other will affect events in the narrative, perhaps even unlocking new events or endings. This was reinforced by checking Elise’s wardrobe in her room a few seconds later. It listed at least 10 possible multiple endings that were all in question marks; the wardrobe is possibly a way to keep track of what endings players have received, so they don’t forget which ones they’ve already done.
Normally, this is probably where the demo would end for another game. You wrapped up what you needed to do for the day and got a small sample of what to expect. Elise’s slumber transported players into some sort of dream sequence, the final stretch of the Little Goody Two Shoes PAX West demo.
Players wake into a lavish royal room, instead of the simple wooden one in Elise’s cottage. The room is mostly red; unsurprisingly, the atmosphere is tense and ominous. I received a friendly tutorial pop-up to notify me that some food items in my inventory can replenish Elise’s sanity bar. Lovely.
To start things off, I had to find a way out of this expensive looking bedroom. There were a handful of environmental objects I could inspect. The blue treasure chest that stuck out like a sore thumb needed a key to open.
Then, I noticed a wardrobe with a mirror on the other side of the room; I could interact with it. I expected Elise to open up one of its drawers, find a key, and be on my merry way. Instead, a hand suddenly emerged from the mirror and gripped Elise’s face for a split second before disappearing.
Great, that wasn’t disturbing at all.
Thankfully, I found the key to the chest shortly after and it contained the key out of the room. Elise makes her way down a hallway. The lights flicker when she reaches the door down the other end. I should try to get her out of here as soon as possible.
Elise stumbles upon a massive room filled with floating candles. Another locked door blocks her from moving forward again. This one has four keyholes, so I’m on the hunt for keys one more time. Four treasure chests are located at each end of the corner and players have to carefully navigate Elise to each one of them. Stepping too close to a floating candle will make them close in on Elise and damage her health bar.
I was able to procure three keys from the chests; the last one I opened contained a riddle of where to get the final one instead. After circling the room a few times, I finally discovered it in one of the bookshelves inside the room. I opened the door to complete the dream sequence with a final eerie cutscene. Elise is running through an empty darkness until more and more creepy plant-like aberrations begin to chase after her. The whole thing was a nightmare I couldn’t make sense of.
Just as they were about to engulf Elise, she wakes up… to another day in Kieferberg - ready to do more chores.
Little Goody Two Shoes intrigued me quite a bit. I’m considering playing through Pocket Mirror before it comes out, though I know it isn’t mandatory. The art direction is simply mesmerizing; the merchant shop screens heavily reminded me of how early Ys games presented them. It will be coming to the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam), though no release date has been given yet.