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

Character Art

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.

PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux
Release date Jun 22, 2018
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars
(7 total ratings)
GenreVisual Novel, Interactive Fiction
Made withPaint.net, Ren'Py
Tagsepistolary, Fairy Tale, Female Protagonist, folk-horror, Horror, Kinetic Novel, Mystery, Story Rich, Yuri
Average sessionA few hours
InputsKeyboard, Mouse, Joystick
LinksBlog, vndb entry


[Windows] Sylvan Disappearance 193 MB
Version 1.2 Oct 08, 2023
[Linux] Sylvan Disappearance 195 MB
Version 1.2 Oct 08, 2023
[Mac] Sylvan Disappearance 191 MB
Version 1.2 Oct 08, 2023

Development log


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(2 edits) (+1)

Full and detailed review of the VN!

+ summary and analysis


The information provided on this review is for general informational purposes only. 
All information on the review is provided in good faith, however I make no representation
or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, 
reliability, availability or completeness of any information on the review.


VN review and score (score affects the amount of stars you get in the rating).
purpose: provide constructive criticism to help the developer improve.
   Score Chart

   [150-125] : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   
   [125-100] : ⭐⭐⭐⭐   
   [100-75]  : ⭐⭐⭐   
   [75-50]   : ⭐⭐   
   [50-0]    : ⭐   

VN Score: 117.5/150

Applies to version 1.2 [2023/10/08].

Score Breakdown:

  • 『Visuals』 - 15/20

    Images, videos, backgrounds, characters, drawings, animations, etc.
    • Good:
      • High Resolution.
      • Good art style.
      • Original character sprites.
      • Sprites with multiple expressions.
      • Original background edits (oil painting style).
      • Background and sprites match.
      • Images communicate emotions and complement the narrative.
      • Animations and transitions through all the VN.
      • Frequent background changes through all the VN.
      • Every single asset is credited.
    • Neutral:
      • Backgrounds provided by third parties.
      • Sprites remains in one pose.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • N/A
      • Major (-5pts)
        • Different art styles on sprites for secondary characters, most are silhouettes.
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『GUI』 - 17.5/20

    Graphic user interface of the VN.
    • Good:
      • Total GUI Overhaul.
      • GUI is unique for the VN.
      • Text is legible 90% of the time.
    • Neutral:
      • N/A
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • White text briefly superposes on bright background on some Celia’s letters.
      • Major (-5pts)
        • N/A
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Sound』 - 20/20

    Music and sound effects; quality and sound design.
    • Good:
      • Atmospheric sounds through all the VN.
      • Ambient music through all the VN.
      • Good sound quality and design.
      • Sound communicates emotions and complement the narrative.
      • Every single asset is credited.
    • Neutral:
      • Music and sound effects provided by third parties.
      • Music can be edited to do a perfect loop.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • N/A
      • Major (-5pts)
        • N/A
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Story』 - 2.5/20

    Spelling, grammar and syntax’s correctness, also, narrative flow and consistency.
    • Good:
      • Outstanding narrative flow.
      • Long story that manages to keep to reader interested.
      • Use of advanced writing techniques.
      • Vocabulary above average.
      • A meaning can be inferred, it’s not just a sequence of events.
    • Neutral:
      • Unreliable narrator technique.
      • Nonlinear narrative technique.
      • In medias res technique.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • Role-play scene with Coline is long and hard to connect with the central narrative.
      • Major (-5pts)
        • Multiple spelling mistakes present (hrough | of of | guided only my the meek | want us to leave us | some the facts | she the process).
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • True ending is extremely problematic.

  • 『Setting』 - 20/20

    Originality, ideas and worldbuilding in VN.
    • Good:
      • Rich detail in places, customs of the time, character’s life, technology, etc.
      • Depth and diverse characters.
    • Neutral:
      • XIX Century combined with modern times.
      • Historical fiction combined with fantasy.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • N/A
      • Major (-5pts)
        • N/A
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Gameplay』 - 20/20

    About interactivity, e.g: kinetic, with choices, or higher.
    • Good:
      • Original Epistolary System.
    • Neutral:
      • Kinetic Novel.
      • Epistolary System doesn’t imply narrative branches.
      • Hybrid VN style (NVL and ADV).
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • N/A
      • Major (-5pts)
        • N/A
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Programming』 - 12.5/20

    Builds released, correct VN execution, bugs, crashes, etc.
    • Good:
      • No bugs.
      • No crashes.
      • Uploaded builds for most supported operative systems.
      • Descriptive filenames.
      • Original Epistolary System.
      • Custom and complex credits screen. (There is even a Music Box!)
    • Neutral:
      • Plain text scripts present on the game files
      • Assets were not compressed in a RPA file.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • The extra button is disabled on all screens except the title screen.
      • Major (-5pts)
        • No android version.
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Promotion』 - 20/20

    About the thumbnail, title, game page, metadata, tags, description, screenshots, etc.
    • Good:
      • Title: Vague but eye-catching.
      • Description: Use of HTML. Informative and accurate, creates interest.
      • Thumbnail: Eye-catching image.
      • Metadata: Filled all important info and is updated.
      • Tags: Multiple accurate tags, game is easy to find.
      • Screenshots: Multiple game related images uploaded, people can judge before downloading.
    • Neutral:
      • Description: lack of trigger warnings.
      • Thumbnail: Can be animated, would add the character sprites.
      • Tags: Would add “renpy”, “VN”, and “Thriller” tag.
    • Bad:
      • Minor (-2.5pts)
        • N/A
      • Major (-5pts)
        • N/A
      • Severe (-10pts)
        • N/A

  • 『Personal Opinion』 - 10/10

    Is fun/cute/interesting/scary/etc? Did I like it? (subjective)

    You can’t imagine how much I identify with this story, that is an major perk for any writer, being able to tell stories that other people can relate with.

Walkthrough / Summary

if kinetic: you get a summary.
purpose: provide insight about what people understood from the VN.
else: how to get all the endings, along with a brief text about how I played the VN.
purpose: provide insight about how people play the VN.

This is a thriller story with horror and mystery elements, with a mind blowing plot twist at the end.

All of this takes place in a village in the Montsylvestre region, where we learn about the friendship of Mirabelle Maribond and Célias Vandère. Mirabelle is a young orphaned adult who was raised by her abusive aunt, and because of this, she was out of the house most of the time. One day, while she was in the library, she met Célia, a shy girl who lived alone. The two shared an interest in stories and soon became good friends.

I must emphasize that Célia was so lonely that she would soon become extremely dependent on Mirabelle and her favorite hobby: story nights. However, Celia was not someone to be underestimated, she is much more complex than it seems at first glance. Celia is very imaginative and intelligent, and tried to write a long and complex script for a story night: “Sylvan Adventure”… that could never be played.

Célia never forgot that script, and she would make it happen at all costs.
Years passed and the game began without warning: one night, Célia disappeared with a group of children in the forest of Montsylvestre. All of them were found alive, but under strange circumstances. The children said it was all Célia’s fault, and so, her reputation was shattered, the whole town now threatens her as an outcast, and Mirabelle was not the exception.

On top of that, Mirabelle’s aunt was pressuring her to get a job. Eventually, Mirabelle decided to radically start a new life and went to a seaside city to work as a warehouse clerk for a shipping company. No goodbyes were told.

With the help of Coline (Mirabelle’s coworker with which she becomes very close and intimate), Mirabelle quickly gets used to her new life. However, Coline would not last forever…

Months later, Mirabelle began to receive letters from Montsylvestre. The ghosts of the past haunt her, she won’t escape so easily. The letters come from Célia, Martin (a doctor and friend of hers) and Louis (a young aristocrat from Montsylvestre). Mirabelle is widely informed about Célia’s state and progress during all this time, she now works in a manor as a servant and tutor of a young aristocrat. However, story night has only just begun.

After some weeks, Mirabelle is bothered by strange letters describing how Célia has gone completely mad; she has an unsettling appearance, neglects her duties, appears in strange places, and her diary is filled with strange drawings and horrifying descriptions of a woman in the forest that haunts her, along with frequent descriptions about a pond with an island full of bluebells and a church-high oak tree. Meanwhile, Célia was sending letters that said that everything was fine.

Mirabelle is deeply worried about this, but at the same time, she doesn’t trust anyone. She will have to go to the manor to know the truth. And so she does, only to find out that Célia has completely vanished from the manor, not even a single trace was found.

Everything about this feels wrong for Mirabelle, and she decides to stay in the manor.
A few days later, Mirabelle catch the young aristocrat spying on her, and one night she sees him going out of the manor in hurry. She follows him until they both reach a pond in the farthest parts of Montsylvestre. She corners Louis to spill the whole truth, and her suspicions were correct, it was all just a facade for Célia to disappear, Louis was helping her.

However, unexplainable and irrational things still kept happening: Louis was there to see Célia, but she didn’t came. They both go to the hideout were she would stay for weeks, but Célia never went there. Mirabelle had a strong hunch to go back to the pond again, only to find a boat full of bluebells, a sign that Célia was alive and succeed in all her plans.

Célia was ahead of everyone, no one could caught her.

Plot Analysis

on what I interpreted, learnt, and thought after playing this VN. (highly subjective)
purpose: improve story clarity and reduce risk of misinterpretation.

Note: Rastagong included his own inspirations and meanings of his VN, it’s unlocked after reading the VN. I highly recommend reading the Rastagong’s own explanation.

However, most of the VN are still free to interpret. Here’s my attempt:

  • About the True Ending
    After reading the ending notes about the true epilogue, I can’t help but feel that this was an extremely risky way to clarify things, because 99% of the time the reader will get it wrong.
    Writer, you must understand that the plot twist in this ending is so harsh and insulting to the reader, that emotions will block any possible rational interpretation. We feel as deceived and betrayed as Mirabelle.
    After reading this ending, I only had time to think about the implications of Celia being extraordinarily intelligent and psychopathic through the eight-month curse, from putting many children at risk, to being able to predict that Martin will recommend her at the manor so that she could meet Louis, and finally, get ahead of everyone and successfully escape on that last night.
    It’s so absurd, that I truly hope that all of this is justified with huge improvisation skills.

  • Célia’s Disappearance Plan
    I assume that everything that Célia said in the letters to Mirabelle, what she said to Louis, and wrote in the diary is fake (or at least partially fake).
    But let’s try to ignore for a moment the true ending, and interpret what Celia tried to make everyone think of her.
    In my opinion, Celia intended her disappearance to look like some kind of suicide, because she really tried to make it clear that she was very hurt by everything everyone had done to her.
    I see strong allegories about depression and suicide, for example: in the fake diary Celia exaggerated all her feelings and what others thought of her, meanwhile, when all the people saw her very sick, she dismissed it with “it’s just a cold”, a common behavior in depressed people (pretending that everything is fine). Constant late-night walks in the woods are escapism, along with being secluded in her room, are also very common behaviors among depressed people.
    Finally, when Louis played along, she told Mirabelle in one of her letters that he was a fool for being a “enabler,” because he was making Celia’s “depression” worse instead of helping her get out of the comfort zone that was hurting her so much.

  • Célia’s Sylvan Adventure Script
    We know that the pond with the island is fictitious, therefore, it is the only part of this VN in which an effort is needed to understand the symbolism behind this literary construction.
    My interpretation here strongly complements the suicidal theory: The color of the bluebells is blue (duh), it is a color that conveys sadness according to color theory. It’s clear that the fog resembles confusion and fear, while the constant winds that stir everything up are Celia’s strong emotions dominating her. The island with many flowers andt the Oak Tree signify paradise, the afterlife. This theory is further confirmed by the fact that, in most European mythologies, the oak tree is seen as sacred. The woman in the forest who grants wishes is death, death makes everything disappear, and Celia thinks about death constantly, until it becomes too oppressive to bear; That she is underwater is a metaphor for this weight of being so useless, with the constant thoughts about suicide. The boat that goes from the creek to the island is clearly an allegory about Kharon, the boatman of the Hades (Greek mythology).


Anything goes.

Sylvian Dissaparence got a lower score than A Darkening Flood. However, this VN is by all means, superior to your previous work. Remember that the review is only meant to help you fix the issues.
Consider that this VN was dozens of times bigger, more ambitious, and a lot of new things were tried; therefore, the risk of issues growth. Things still need to be polished.

More work than mine needs to be done too.
I understand that the true ending was added in the later stages of development, when almost everything was finished. Therefore, it’s imperative to reread the entire story with this ending in mind, looking for inconsistencies that do not support this ending.

Overall, it’s a great VN and I would definitely recommend it.

Hope this helps! ❤️

(1 edit)

Thank you so so much for taking the time to read & comment on Sylvan Disappearance!
This comment is so detailed like your two other ones, aaaah. There’s so much in it!

I’m really glad you enjoyed the atmosphere, presentation, themes/symbols and (most of) the story!
I’m sorry about the True Epilogue in this story. I realise it can be disappointing (though I still think its inclusion was important to give a more grounded finale), but I definitely can’t expect any reader to foresee it. Sylvan Disappearance isn’t a very “fair” mystery, as you say, it was a first attempt at a larger VN, and it has its flaws!
I’m really glad you found so much value out of it in spite of these flaws!

As always, I prefer not to comment on specifics from your summary and analysis, but I really, really enjoyed reading them! Your interpretation of Célia is really poignant (and very on-point), it hurts anew to read about her journey through the more evocative/allegorical lens that you used!

Thank you again so much for reading & commenting, this was much appreciated!


Loved this! Definitely going to chew on the deeper meanings of the ending/solution. Reminded me strongly of Umineko When They Cry and I love that VN too. 


Thank you you so so much, I’m glad you took the time to read this VN even so long after its initial release, and that you found it enjoyable!

I never bother listing Umineko as an inspiration because I love it so much and it changed me so much that it is all over anything I ever touch ahaha…
But yes, the influence’s definitely there; I’m glad this aspect was also enjoyable since you loved Umineko yourself too!


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.

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?

(2 edits)

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!

Thank yoooou, I'm glad you liked it!


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.