Prepare to experience the original man-on-the-run thriller in a completely new way. This is a digital adaptation of John Buchan's incredible book (inspiration to Ian Fleming's James Bond!). Be transported back to 1914 London, where Richard Hannay finds himself framed for a murder he didn't commit.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (330 reviews)
Release Date: Apr 25, 2013

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About This Game

Prepare to experience the original man-on-the-run thriller in a completely new way. This is a digital adaptation of John Buchan's incredible book (inspiration to Ian Fleming's James Bond!). Be transported back to 1914 London, where Richard Hannay finds himself framed for a murder he didn't commit. Now he must escape the Capital and stay alive long enough to solve the riddle of The Thirty-Nine Steps. There are secrets to be discovered, locations to be explored and - above all - an incredible tale to be told in this ground-breaking interactive novel.

Key Features:

  • A new form of entertainment, merging the worlds of literature, gaming and film into one visually stunning storyline.
  • Faithfully constructed using the original - and best-selling - John Buchan text, first published in 1915.
  • Hundreds of hand-painted digital environments, and authentic materials from 1910s Britain.
  • 8 different storytelling mechanics, 25 collectible items and 16 awards to be unlocked.
  • An original soundtrack by Si Begg and theatrical voice performances, including Ian Hanmore, Greg Hemphill and Benny Young
  • Created in Unity4, with a playtime of 5-8 hours.

System Requirements



    • OS:Windows XP
    • Processor:2GHz Processor
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    • Graphics:DirectX 9 512MB card
    • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
    • Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection


    • OS:OSX
    • Processor:2.2GHz dual core processor
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    • Graphics:GPU 128MB+
    • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
    • Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection
Helpful customer reviews
14 of 14 people (100%) found this review helpful
11.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 19
Thats how some books in modern time may be presented. I dont like the plot though. "Its a pure Sir Henry Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle", very childish story without meanings. All what these gentlemans do is drink whskies-and-sodas and smoke. "I smoked in a vhsir till daylight, for i couldnt sleep". Nice voice and language perfomances with some scottish accent.
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12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 12
The 39 Steps is an interactive crime story adapted from a book.

So you might be not challenged clicking through a text adventure, but otherwise everything is well made. The graphics are painted nearby realistic landscapes uncommon to other comic adventures. There are several historical pictures included. The story takes place in 1914, a few weeks before WW1 breaks out. You are searching for a conspirancy that leads to the upcoming events.

There are rarely search screens during the whole story, but sometimes also a nice gesture function is used. Mostly it's very atmospheric. Only the characters are shown as outlined ghosts. I liked the most when somebody was telling yarn. Then an artistical silhouette movie appeared. The language voices of the characters differs from British English, German, Scottish accent to French accent.

In the end it was getting hard to unlock all awards for the last achievement. But with a little help of the community you mustn't be desperated ...
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
This is a interactive novel. Not that interactive, since you spend 95% of the time reading. I was expecting an animated movie with animated voices. Instead, this is a illustraded novel and only the dialogues have animated voices. The rest of the novel is read. That was really disappointing. It's not that I don't like to read, I do read at least 1 book every week, but I hate reading on the computer. And it was supposed to be a game after all. Having to read 95% of the time made the 'game' boring, especially because the illustrations appear and move too slow and you have to press the mouse button all the time so the next sentence focus on the screen and you be able to read it. I was so bored, that after a few minutes I actually stopped reading and only kept pressing the mouse button until the end just to get the achievements. The story might be great (I don't really know the story after all), but the way it was presented in this 'game' made me not want to read it. I recommend it only to those people that really enjoy reading on the computer and don't get bored too easily. Suggest you wait for a sale. Not worth the full price.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 23
Got this in a Humble Bundle for less than a dollar, and although I haven't finished it yet I can say that even if you are into weird random artsy interactive story things, wait for a similarly steep sale before you consider picking it up. It's a point-and-click, and a very modest one at that; most of it is reading, although it's balanced by good pacing of introducing new visual and interactive elements. I happen to like the plot because it reminds me of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories, but you may find it a little cliche if you regularly read/watch/consume mysteries and political thrillers.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 29
This game is pretty good. Visual novel really did a good job to portray Richard Hannay's character in this game. Expect nail biting scenes as the main character tries to escape from a crime he didn't commit. Witness the escalating tension between French and German as he discovered the truth that must be silenced immediately while Richard Hannay tries to outwit his pursuers in an adventure packed game.

The art style is kinda good (mostly at the beautiful landscapes). The voice acting was pretty normal. A video rarely comes but that is certainly acceptable because what's important is the immersion to the story wherein the subtitles and acting did a good job.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Enjoyed it a lot!

The 39 Steps is an animated, illustrated espionage-novel with sounds, music and linear narration - and without any real choices for the "player" during the whole story. So don't expect a full pc game, but instead anticipate a classic digital novel adaption, which totally knows how to entertain the audience.
You'll find yourself in an authentic England of 1914 and you'll be able to enjoy wonderfully painted illustrations.
All actions one is able to do are: examining various objects, clicking at things, or moving the cursor from time to time into specified directions to simulate actions, like for example running away, shaving, building explosive devices, opening doors, etc. And it works - and raises the level of immersion during the narration.

It looks great, the atmosphere feels great and the narration has a fluent feeling to it. Plus it's easy to get the 100%-achievements just along the way.
Altogether its an exciting, enthralling Spy Fiction Story with a lot of moments of suspense! Couldn't have asked for more.

I recommend it for relaxed autumn evenings, when reading is just the perfect thing to do.
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 21
I like this style, this is more a story than a "game".
I recommend this is if you want easy achievements or simply want to enjoy a short story.
This took me about 5 hours to complete
The format could be improved, but it's ok I guess.
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 3
It's great, though it's not really a game :------]
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0 of 4 people (0%) found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 6
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5.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 12
Let's be clear: Going through this will be exactly as if you're leafing through the novel with illustrations of the various setpieces, while voices act out the various dialogues and music plays in the background.

You'll be looking at gorgeous, static illustrations, reading the novel's text phrase by phrase, and listening to the dialogue voiced very competently by various actors.

There are no animations, except for some story-within-the-story segments presented as a puppet theatre, very entertaining, sadly in short bursts.

Some sound effects help to set the scenes, and the soundtrack is very engrossing and does the most to add thrill to the experience.

Even the characters are not shown; you'll only see static silhouettes. I really didn't like that. Maybe it was meant to not impose an image of the character upon the reader. But combined with the rest of the static experience, it just felt lazy.
Besides, you unlock character cards as extra content viewable in the main menu, and the characters are illustrated there, in full detail. So why not expand it to the rest of the adaptation?


The Thirty-Nine Steps (the 1915 novel) was important because it was one of the earliest examples of the man-on-the-run thriller. As such, it is held in high regard, and has been the subject of many adaptations in film, radio and theatre.

But let's face it; for today's reader, it's a pretty dull story.

And seeing how this is a digital adaptation of the novel, it's impossible to view the two separately. It's inevitable that you'll experience some boredom due to the source material. So the question now becomes, what does this adaptation add? Does it present the story in a way that enhances the experience? Is it immersive? Does it expand your view of the story's setting and details?

I'd say yes. I read the novel for the first time, right before playing this. And putting aside the vague boredom I felt both times, my understanding and immersion was definitely higher while playing this.

This being England and Scotland, and the 1914 version of both at that, seeing them illustrated before me certainly helped me be transported there, since I'm so separated from the story's setting by both time and space.

Unfamiliar terms and objects now made sense because I could see them (e.g. dovecot) Certain sequences now played correctly in my mind. Etc.

It could have done more. It could have shown characters in full detail rather than as silhouettes. It doesn't have to become a cartoon, but animations for important actions would have greatly improved the storytelling.


Personally, I would have preferred a completely different way to present this novel. I would love a proper, 3D first person experience of the whole thing, think Dear Esther or Gone Home. Even if it was still entirely linear. But I understand how that would be difficult, even impossible (how do you present a linear story if the player can run around London and the moors of Scotland?)

For what this sets out to do, it does a very good job. Not perfect, but a very good job indeed. I look forward to more adaptations from The Story Mechanics and I hope they improve their formula.
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12.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 12
Very nice digital adaption of a espionage book. You will see nice illustrations, read story of the novel, listen to music and actors and sometimes you will click on objects at the screen.
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3.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
A visual novel which has some pretty pictures and captures the feel of Britain, in the year 1914, quite nicely. Personally I did not find the story very interesting, that's not to say that the story is bad but It just wasn't my thing. Obviously gameplay only consists of clicking items or documents so I would only recommend this to fans of the genre. At the moment 39 Steps price on Steam is 10,- which is steep for a visual novel and which is one of the reasons I won't recommend this game.
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8.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
Not really my cup of tea.
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5.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
Excellent execution, acting and presentation are both exceptional.
Sound design could be less sparse, but is well considered.

Felt like I was playing a tablet game, the action sequences could probably be dropped from the PC version.

My only major gripe was the story, which the devleopers had no say in.
Would look for more games of this sort if the price was right.
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33 of 37 people (89%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 16
One thing that I love about video games is how they can take a story I've already heard several ways, and turn it into an entirely new experience that's just as engaging as if I was hearing it for the first time. The 39 Steps by The Story Mechanics is the first in what they call "digital adaptations", which fall somewhere between a visual novel and a radio show. The idea if simple, but the execution highly stylized and the pacing tightly wound to make what could have been a dry collection of text a surprisingly compelling and intense narrative piece.

I shouldn't have to tell you what The 39 Steps is about (as I imagine most should be familiar with the classic novel and numerous film adaptions and spin-offs), but as a refresher it follows Scottish man Richard Hannay, recently retired and now lost in a series of humdrum days and occurrences. All of this changes when a stranger barges into his life and revels a German plot that if carried out could throw the world into a war the likes of which it had yet seen. Shortly thereafter the man, now revealed to a spy known as Scudder, is found dead in Hannay's apartment, leaving him the only one alive with the knowledge of what is soon to unfold, and the only person who could possibly prevent it.

While the narrative of The 39 Steps is as intriguing and thrilling as ever, it's the way that it's told in this instance that makes it worth revisiting (or checking out for the first time) as opposed to numerous other formats you could choose. The Story Mechanics haven't settled for a simple text format in retelling Josh Buschan's tale, instead using a collection of visual tricks and clever insertion of backstory to create an brilliant interactive story that far exceeds the simplistic adaptations that have been experimented with in the past. Fantastic use of camera angles, deliberate placement of text to draw your eye toward parts of the watercolor backgrounds, and excellent voice acting from all parties make it incredibly easy to get swept away in the plot even during the slower, some may even call mundane, moments.

The only real instances where The 39 Steps falls a tad flat are the awkwardly implemented gestures that sometimes accompany moments like opening doors or reading letters. They were obviously intended to make the game feel more like, well, a game, but they're shoehorned in in such a way that feels tacked on an unnecessary. Thankfully they're infrequent enough that they never amount to more than a bit of a bother nor take but a few seconds to complete.

Though some might scoff at the emphasis on exposition and almost complete lack of traditional gameplay, those that can appreciate The 39 Steps for the bit of interactive fiction it is will be rewarded with an exciting and wonderfully paced tale of spies, murder, and more than a few close shaves. Having no real idea what to expect, I was very pleasantly surprised with the end result of The Story Mechanics's first attempt at a "digital adaptation", and it has gotten my mind spinning thinking of so many other books I'd love to see turned into future games. Hopefully this is only the first to come.
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22 of 25 people (88%) found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 1
Alright, just played through The 39 Steps today. Took about 4 hours all told to complete, although there was probably an hour of idle time mixed in there. Anyway, I thought it was pretty stellar. A digital adaptation of a book. They say it was the inspiration for Ian Fleming style of writing, I think it bore a lot of similarities to Hitchcock's North by Northwest (and it turns out Hitchcok did in fact do a film adaptation of 39 Steps earlier in his career) as well. A very good and interesting story set in the early 1900's. Although there aren't branching paths, I thought the game till did an excellent job of immersing you into the story completely. Sort of non traditional from a point and click perspective due to a little twist in manipulating some object. The artwork was very nice, mostly done in watercolors and more traditional painting styles as well, with some silent film style cutscenes mixed in. Definitely recommend playing this one.
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18 of 21 people (86%) found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 29
The Thirthy-Nine Steps is one of the earliest and arguably most influential novel in the history of espionage thriller. The book by John Buchan, published in 1915, is now public domain which means the devs could get away with anything in this digital adaption. But what surprised me is they were extremely loyal to the plot. This digital adaption is even told in 1st person like the original work. They did not offer any changes, which can be termed as lazy. But a novel that doesn't need change shouldn't be changed anyway. Voice acting is good. Story-telling is done right. The only thing that bugged me is the lack of character "appearance" in the artwork. But that's not a big deal. Anyway, this is a good digital adaption of the novel and I highly recommend it.

Warning - Do not buy if you're looking for a game. This is NOT a game, not even a point and click game. This is basically a audio novel with some relevant artwork.
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19 of 23 people (83%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 18
This ain't a game..
This is interactive Visual Novel.. A novel that you watch like a movie..

Truly a masterpiece.
Try it, you won't regret.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
6.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 5
This is a digital adaptation, not a game.
It's damn good at what it does. The voice acting is top notch. I never found myself being critical of the actors. The art work was excellent and really depicted the scenes well.
The only mark on this experience was that although the music was fitting, some of the melodic and atmospheric tracks suffered from improper looping.
Other than that, it was a truely immersive experience.
With that said, I would recommend this at $15 or less. Why? If you enjoy these sorts of productions then you can't go wrong with this one, and perhaps the proceeds will funnel into the next project, of which you may be awaiting like myself, with great anticipation.
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6 of 8 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 29
The 39 Steps is a virtual novel with very little interaction. It is 100% impossible to get stuck on this game, because you've got to left click through text or objects (with a big diamond-shaped icon right in the middle of every objects), or simply do a series of left, down, up, right, clockwise or counter-clockwise mouse movements for every single puzzles in the game.

The only part of this game I liked, are the voice acting and graphics, especially the graphics, they are truly amazing! Though, the important aspect of a virtual novel is the story and in the case of "The 39 Steps" I didin't understand much of the story, it kinda ruined it for me. Now i've got to say, my first language isn't english, but I really couldn't understand the beginning of the story. I also couldn't understand any british dialogues, because they were all slang. Some parts were also in German, with no translation what-so-ever.

Another complaint about this game, is how the game is saved. The ''chapters'' takes about 15 minutes each, but if you want to alt-tab (probably a bug) or quit the game, you might have or might not have to restart that chapter all over again. This made me replay at least 3 chapters (which, by the way, you cannot skip any text or cutscenes) and effectively made me watch all of the dialogues and cutscenes again.

I am quite disapointed with this "game" so I cannot recommend it. If you were going to purchase this virtual novel, I really hope you understand english very well and don't mind not being able to have any influence in the story nor have any puzzles to solve at all while playing this.
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