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Crown of Leaves by The Broken Horn
Playing “Crown of Leaves” is entering Shang-La, a world of magic and science, of heroes and villains. The fruit of the imagination, art, and labor of three talented Russian artists, “Crown of Leaves” looks and feels like a true product of love.
Caught half-way between game and fantasy novel, it is certain to remind you of the many anime visual novels that abound on Steam and GOG. This one’s different though; there’s something about the game’s aesthetics, voice-acting, and non-linear storytelling that captivates the player even during the first minutes.
The Hero’s Journey
You are Roui, a gypsy-born jack-of-all-trades, trying to stand back on your feet after being stricken by disaster following your brush with the Mafia. Your story was long and complex, long before you decided to return to your homeland to make a fresh start.
You’ve been a dilettante, a decipherer, a jeweler (although not an enthusiastic one) and a journalist of scientific magic. Now back on square one, you pick up your old jeweler’s tools, and as fate would have it, you land your first well-paying customer: the Black Baron, a powerful and insidious figure. He tasks you with making a bracelet out of a most precious and difficult material for his betrothed-to-be, Junyver.
If only you knew what calamities lay ahead…
An Enchanting World of Scientific Magic
Five years of concentrated efforts have gone into forging the world of Shang-La by the game devs; and it shows. This is a world of mixed cultures and eras, populated by different intelligent species and strange creatures, and governed by the laws of science and magic alike. The setting is very well-thought and the way it is fleshed out speaks volumes to the complexity and richness of its back-story.
Both the protagonist’s past and the details of the characters you meet and interact, make journeying through Shang-La feel like you are actually diving into a living, breathing world. This is a welcome change from the genre’s unfortunately common practice of “paper-thin” background that makes everyone and everything feel like cardboard cutouts placed there as lifeless décor.
A Plot-Driven Story
As with most visual novels, “Crown of Leaves” relies heavily on its plot to engage you. The game presents the player with many different characters to interact with, allowing them to make friends or enemies, and choose who they want to be in this story.
The dialogues are filled with meaning and what you say can and will be used against you (or in your favor). You can choose to be a hero or a villain and the game doesn’t nudge you either way, which adds to the “believability” of its premise.
What’s more, the game devs filled their story with plot twists and different endings, so you can explore Shang-La anew making different choices.
The game devs are already better known for their work in Deviant art and this is their first game crafting attempt, for which they enlisted the help of the talented musician _Blacksmith_ to score their game.
They are already working on a comic book for “Crown of Leaves” which will further add life and vibrancy to the fantasy world of Shang-La.