this game already had my interest but then I saw that Picnic at Hanging Rock was in inspiration for this game and I was super excited for that is one of my favorite movies/books.
A downloadable visual novel for Windows, macOS, and Linux
An epistolary fairy-tale mystery
about friendship, stories and dreams
Mirabelle and Célia have always loved inventing stories, and acting on stage too. They used to entertain their friends by running story nights for them, in the woods near their village. Not anymore, though.
Three months have past since the incident which shattered their friendship, and Mirabelle has begun a new life far away, in a bustling city by the sea.
One day, Mirabelle receives a letter from Martin, another friend of hers:
This is none of my concern, surely, but I fear I must ask...
Has Célia written to you yet?
If I may hazard a guess —she has not at all, has she?
I do not believe that she has spent a very pleasant summer, but I would like to believe that very soon, life will turn out all the better for her.
If you ever find the time, do not hesitate to write to her.
Could this mark the beginning of a renewed friendship? Perhaps.
But not all secrets can be told truthfully, even to one's closest friend.
About the story
Sylvan Disappearance is a mystery visual novel with an epistolary component. In the course of the story, you follow Mirabelle's life in a seaside city, and read the correspondence she receives from her friends Martin and Célia.
Besides the mystery, the story features:
- Psychological and folk horror
- Strange, persistent dreams
- Light yuri romance
- Mysterious woods
- A pseudo-historical setting
Among other influences, it was inspired by Emily Carroll's horror comics, the Dream Pop music genre, tabletop role-playing, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Daphne du Maurier's Monte Verità and the seaside city from Kiki's Delivery Service.
The story is about 53 000 words long.
It should require between 4 and 5 hours of reading depending on your speed.
There are no choices, though you may read some of the letters that Mirabelle receives in the order you wish.
Writing, Programming & Design
I could never have written this story without the work of talented composers, photographers and sound enthusiasts who made their work so easily available to creators. I would like to thank them as much as possible for doing so, however I cannot name them all here. Therefore please refer to the Credits menu inside the game for more information.
Besides attributing every asset in use in the story, the menu provides contextual information on the people and places who made this story possible.
|Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux|
|Release date||Jun 22, 2018|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Interactive Fiction|
|Tags||epistolary, Fairy Tale, Female Protagonist, Horror, Mystery|
|Average session||A few hours|
|Inputs||Keyboard, Mouse, Joystick|
|Links||Blog, vndb entry|
- Release of Sylvan DisappearanceJun 22, 2018
Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.
Thanks, that’s so nice to hear, both the book and movie mean a lot to me as well!
I hope you enjoy the mystery’s atmosphere!
Hello Rastagong! I have roughly an hour into this game and am interested in reading/playing to the end whenever I have the time.
The reason I'm writing a comment already is that I noticed something when opening the file directory via the itch app... Namely, that most of the files under the "game" directory still are in RPY format, meaning I can read the script in Editra and - theoretically - edit the script of your game. This struck me as unusual because every Ren'Py game I tried except one have the RPY files exported as PYs for copyright reasons (the one exception was made by a group sharing it with a closed group I just happened to be part of, which means they probably trusted us not to spread it on).
I guess what I mean to ask is - was this intentional?
Hello! Sorry for the delay in answering!
Yes, the fact that I left the script files accessible is intentional! I did so both to share knowledge and because there isn't much to hide in such a small-scale, free VN anyway. ^^
I really don't mind if people have a look at the script, play around with it, learn something —in fact, I hope some people do and it proves useful to them! I've tried my best to document the code exhaustively with comments so it could be helpful and comprehensive to curious readers and fellow VN developers.
Scripting a full story and GUI can be difficult, and I hope that open source examples of completed VNs like this one may help a bit. There's probably nothing which is especially complex or impressive in the script of Sylvan Disappearance, but I still wanted to do my part! If anyone at all finds any use in some part of the script, I'll be very glad. ^^
Oh, the epistolary screen might be of use to someone! It's probably the most “complex” part of the code, and I guess it might be useful as a storytelling mechanic in other VNs. In fact, I'm planning to distribute the code of this system as a standalone recipe on itch.io and Lemmasoft in the near-ish future! I don't mind people reusing parts of the script entirely, as long as I'm credited.
The only thing I did protect and wouldn't want to see reused at all are the original art assets drawn by Hyanide.
The other assets are all free to use in some capacity (the full list of sources and licenses is in the Credits menu), so I did not protect them either. :)
Hope this answers your question, and that you enjoy the story!
Thanks for asking, this reminds me that I should add a note about this on the page and in the update I'll upload in a few weeks. ^^
No worries about the late response... especially considering this one is, too, heh
Good to know! While I consider myself no game dev, it's true I have some ideas coming up, so I'll be taking a few looks and it and see what would be possible (and reasonable) to include+expand on. (I won't delve into too much detail here, but I have thoughts of recreating a story I am writing as a VN, and the letter system could be useful to include "extra" updates in the original with worldbuilding that didn't advance the main plot... /thinking )
Speaking of... as I'm writing this, I just finished reading the extra material. Admittedly since I had very short play lessons to start with it took a while to get fully immersed in the mystery, but once I did... Hm, it's hard to write about mysteries without spoiling them for those reading comments before playing, but personally I'm leaning more toward the rational conclusion. Although I haven't had the time to elaborate even to myself why that is...
The choice of music nd where to place it was exceptional, too - as a hobby composer I should be taking notes. In fact, my only criticism re: audio and visuals would be the sprites for John, Paula and Rose. Hyanide did a great work with the sprites they provided, and the silhouettes fit the tone of the story as well as the sprites... But those three sets of sprites being a strange mix between them was slightly off-putting, and I do believe having them as silhouettes as well could have been a better choice. (That said there are more jarring examples out there - *cough Sengoku Gensoukyou cough* - and I was still able to take their scenes seriously.)
... I have no idea how to end this comment so: overall, 8/10 kinetic novel, worth trying to learn things from!
Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed the story!
I know the pacing wasn't the best, but happy to hear the presentation and mystery leaved a good impression!
On the subject of the character art, I hadn't expected the royalty-free sprites to be more bothering than the silhouettes, though it makes a lot of sense now that you mention it!
I used these sprites mostly to get sets of face expressions, since these characters have some amount of dialogue. But I understand how it makes then strangely stand apart too. I'll keep this in mind for future projects! And yeah, Hyanide's art is indeed fantastic. <3
> “The letter system could be useful to include "extra" updates in the original with worldbuilding that didn't advance the main plot...”
Oooh, interesting, I had never thought of such a use, but I see how it could be very useful for side stories!
If you ever need clarifications or coding help regarding this system, feel absolutely free to ask, I'd be happy to do whatever I can! (I'm Rastagong#9020 on Discord.)
Really good story and the presentation is both unusual and very well crafted!
Lovely game so far. I appreciate all the effort put into it.
The rendering is so beautiful, and parts of the visual novel are just captivating.
Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoy the general presentation!
If you're interested, I wrote a post on the devblog on the specific topic of photographic backgrounds, and why I enjoy them so much. :)
And the most recent posts on the devblog feature other inspirations in terms of atmosphere as well.