The Crown of Leaves Review
Thebrokenhorn puts players into a strange predicament in their new point-and-click visual novel The Crown of Leaves. Anthropomorphic animals meet supernatural stylings, but does it prove to be more than the sum of its parts?
The Crown of Leaves Review
Breaking the cardinal rule of showing, not telling, players are thrown a wealth of plot right from the get go. In just a few minutes, those who boot up the game will learn about Roui, his time at school, his time out of school, his 10 years at the Paranormal Patrol newspaper, his run-in with the mafia, his return back to his homeland, his work as a jeweler, and his current assignment with the Black Baron.
This would normally be alright if each of these things were shown, but it is all delivered through a quick voiceover set to the occasional still drawing. It goes far too fast, and those not taking notes will be completely lost with his backstory.
It’s not like much of this matters though, as the core plot of the game focuses on none of these elements. You would expect to learn more about his work as a jeweler or his past history coming to bite him, but instead the plot revolves around the mysterious Veglamb bush that made its way to a greenhouse nearby. Things get that more far fetched as things progress, with Roui ending up in a weird area of the flats that’s in the midst of a hoity-toity ritual. It lacks any sort of cohesion, and is executed like a collection of random concepts scribbled down and mashed together.
The game does try to make sense of everything with the Mindscape feature, which serves as a dictionary of the major characters that make up its world. However, this proves to be the only way to learn more about the characters you come across – other than the occasional choice, expect a handful of lines per creature. It’s nice that certain sections are animated and dialog features moving mouths, but it still boils down to talking heads for the majority of its playthrough. Players will be able to navigate its world by clicking on certain objects and changing their current screen, but the majority of the game is spent reading. Its animal-based cast is an acquired taste too, and will likely appeal only to a select few.
Despite the chance to make the odd choice, the entirety of the episode can be finished in around 45 minutes. The title mentions that this is just the first chapter, but nothing is established, and (without spoiling too much) it can be fairly difficult to see where the plot will progress from this point. More runway, or a more concise tale, would have made the sale of a second episode much more appealing to potential buyers.
The Crown of Leaves is a disjointed visual novel that lacks consistency, and its anthropomorphic animals will only appeal to a select few. The end result is something that feels more like fanfiction than a fully fledged tale.