Crown of Leaves is "a mix of a visual novel and a point-and-click" adventure game, to hear developer The Broken Horn tell it. After trying the free demo available via Itch.io for myself, I'm inclined to agree.
You play as Roui, a 27-year-old male Sahash. The Sahash are a race of animal people who live alongside humans in Shang-La, the game's fictional world, and look like anthropomorphized fox-antelopes. Roui has a long snout, a toothy smile, pronounced horns and big, characterful ears, and other characters flesh out a neat variety of Sahash phenotypes.
After a brief stint as a supernatural researcher and writer, Roui is muscled out of the big city by the local mafia and forced to return to Latori, his gypsy homeland. Unable to continue his research, he reluctantly resumes working as a jeweler, only to have a rare piece commissioned by one of the most powerful rulers in the land shortly after. Which is roughly where the demo picks up.
It's immediately clear what The Broken Horn means when it says Crown of Leaves is a hybrid: you decide what to say in conversations like a visual novel, and you closely examine environments for clues like an adventure game. That comes with all the trappings you'd expect: branching dialogue, highlighted points of interest, an inventory to fill with potentially useful items, and a journal which logs your understanding of the world and its inhabitants.
It's hard to get a feel for Crown of Leaves' adventure side from the short demo alone. Even if you really poke around, it'll only last you 20 minutes or so. But its visual novel half seems pretty strong. The translation is still rough around the edges and scenes could definitely use some more music, but Roui has a sharp tongue and expressive portraits. It's cool to see the animal features put to emotive use. Their ears perk and droop, their tails wag and bristle, and I'm fond of Roui's devious scowl particularly.
The Broken Horn alludes to an episodic structure on Steam, with each episode containing multiple possible endings. As the story progresses, introducing another main character and a Latorian spirit, you'll also "decode ciphers," which sounds like 'solve puzzles' to me. And that sounds like a good addition.
Crown of Leaves is slated to fully release on Steam this month. You can learn more about it on its Itch.io page—and again, try it for yourself by downloading the 0.7.4 version of the demo. (Tip: Don't let the subtitles scare you; if you select English, it will be in English.)