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:
Recent:
Mixed (19 reviews) - 68% of the 19 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Mostly Positive (836 reviews) - 77% of the 836 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Apr 25, 2013

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Buy The 39 Steps

 

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

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • 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
    Minimum:
    • 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
Customer reviews
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Recent:
Mixed (19 reviews)
Overall:
Mostly Positive (836 reviews)
Recently Posted
sunbafancyxt
( 3.3 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
i read this novel during my middleschool time and sort of impressed by the fiction and plot, which steered me away from the desperately stressed assignment for a bit while. and as the reflection darted across my mind i made the decision to take a heap of jotting of the linguistic usage in this novel or say game. and scottish english amused me a lot, what a ripping game! 8/10
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Speikobrarote
( 8.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
I have mixed feelings about this "game".
First, for me its not a game. Its a graphic novel. To put it into the Point & Click genre is way generous cause, you dont have to think, you dont have to combine things you dont have to do anything just click the glowing 3-5 Objects on screen and read a short info or start a monologue. Thats it.
Its not interactive, you are just an observer and its like youre pressing play and pause on a remote to watch the next scene of a movie.

Dont be mistaken, I liked the voice acting, music, the sound effects are lovely, the art, which mostly contains of stills, which are zoomed in or out and the story is nice. Some parts are really good and leave you with a bit of tension.

I would not recommend it for the high price of 10bucks on 90% discount sure even if it was a lot of work but you can get browser games for free that are better than this. For what it is, some kind of walking simulator without walking, the price doesnt fit.

If you enjoy graphic novels without choices and without much effort and just want to witness a story cause you dont want to pick up a good old book, go for it, you still have to read a bit tho.

Saddly, cause its a finished story, it has absolutely no replay value, play it, enjoy it, get achievements, uninstall, done.
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REV - 2208-8739-9181 DS
( 4.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 23
An enjoyable visual novel adaptation of a popular non-digital novel. A great tour of some of the highlands and London, beautiful backgrounds. Gives proper context to the events of the novel in the time period. Definitely recommended if you want a relaxing evening with an interesting piece of classic fiction.
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Snivets
( 3.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 20
This game is gorgeous! It's great for fans of walking simulators who really felt the whole walking part of that equation was soooo 2011. A great way to experience a classic novel - I wish this was done for other classics too, like any of the Brontes' works (random example, but reading them was much more insufferable than I imagine 'playing' through them would be). 8/10 prepare for some strong art, but not that much interactivity or choice in the narrative -- this is a "know what you're going in for" kind of game. It would be a 7/10 except for the great value.
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SuperStarAD
( 4.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 18
All of the Steam achievements when playing on Mac, Linux, and Windows 10 are broken. Many forum posts have been made about it for years, and the dev hasn't made a peep. If the dev had at least acknowledged the fact that the achievements are broken, I wouldn't write a negative review. But if the dev doesn't care, why should I? <Uninstalls during the first chapter>
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Obey the Fist!
( 3.5 hrs on record )
Posted: July 18
Rejoice, the cure for insomnia is found! I'm not against visual novels, but the 39 Steps isn't quite one of those, it seems to be unsure of what it wants to be. As a result, the gameplay, such as it is, is a confused muddle, distracting you from advancing the story, which is the primary focus of this game.

The graphics are quite good, a lot of attention has been put into the imagery which complements the story well. Thematically it's excellent. Unfortunately that's all there is to it.

Gameplay is a real let down - of course in a visual novel, the objective is to move from one "page" to the next but they picked a really convoluted and confusing set of interfaces for this which serve to distract rather than enhance or engage the "player". In some stages you have to swirl the mouse around hopefully, in others you have to point and click, in others you're making bizarre silly mouse gestures. That really doesn't fit with the visual novel theme.

Technical - no graphics scaling, you're stuck with the resolution they give you, and you have mouse cursor windowing control problems which doesn't help considering the gameplay is mouse driven - and they hide the pointer deliberately so you can't be sure if you're advancing the game or if your mouse pointer has fallen off the edge of the poorly scaled game fullscreen window.

A dry story and a distracting and annoying control scheme makes this game too hard to recommend for gamers or visual novel fans.

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twofacetoo
( 3.1 hrs on record )
Posted: July 12
Beautiful artwork, and entertaining gameplay with stellar voice-acting retelling the classic John Buchan thriller story. Recommended if you want a new kind of story experience.
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Scary Barry
( 0.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 11
An absolutely lovely experience through and through, we need more interactive novels like this!
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Marooned
( 7.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 11
The history is full of misteries and could catch my atention most of the time. But, I was kinda in a hurry to finish this game and now I have this feeling I didn't actually get the most of it.

If you like "real life" puzzles, historical/strategic situations and sound ambientation, you sure gonna like this game.
The amount of journal news is quite nice too and can put you in touch with diferent events that have some relations. I liked this aspect a lot 'cause it made things more exciting and enjoyable as a curious person.

The 39 Steps is somewhat short and easy to play, you just have to follow the situations and see what's happening. So, yet I really recommend it, I don't think it's worth full price because of these last characteristics.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
24 of 27 people (89%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 18
All of the Steam achievements when playing on Mac, Linux, and Windows 10 are broken. Many forum posts have been made about it for years, and the dev hasn't made a peep. If the dev had at least acknowledged the fact that the achievements are broken, I wouldn't write a negative review. But if the dev doesn't care, why should I? <Uninstalls during the first chapter>
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 1
This digital adaptation of the John Buchan adventure novel is an enjoyable production. The visual effects are wonderful; the art is beautiful and provides vivid illustrative context to support the narration. The voice acting is also really good. I will add that there are no puzzles to solve -- its limited player interaction and use of odd gestures to move the story along place it firmly in the visual novel realm. I recommend this for any player looking for a laid back, rich, and intriguing storytelling experience. You won't be disappointed.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
78 of 83 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
14.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 25, 2015
This is a Visual Novel. That means there are no real puzzles, no real gameplay, and it is just the story. If you like point and click adventure games, a visual novel isn't a big step backwards from that sort of thing. You just don't get the puzzles that come along with the adventure genre. So when you want a totally relaxing time of just visualizing a story a graphic novel will succeed in doing that without making you have to think much about solving any puzzles. The 39 Steps is probably one of, if not the best visual novels I have ever played. It adds a lot of extra background and lore to explore within this as well that most visual novels don't contain.

The 39 Steps is a classic thriller novel that has been adapted to this medium in such a way that it feels like a big time studio was behind it rather than an Indie team. This political thriller takes place in Europe, mostly in England and Scotland, You are a man that stumbles into a bit of a political conspiracy by chance, which forces you to eventually run for your life and solve the mystery before your life is ruined.

The quality of the artwork is superb. The menus and user interface are clean and slick. There are no bugs, no glitches, and everything is done in a professional way. You can "add a bookmark" at any place in the story to the point that you can do this after every line of text presented. Making it simple to navigate back to where you were. The story is also broken up into about 20 segments so you should never find yourself lost along the way. You can have 3 profiles as well. I think it would be difficult to play this without feeling like this is how a visual novel SHOULD be done. It is as good as it gets for this genre. Adventure fans not familiar with the visual novel genre may just find that this will convince them to try more due to how well made it was.

It has hand painted watercolor artwork that looks extremely realistic, and is a wonder to gaze upon. You feel like you are inside the rooms the story brings you to, the landscapes outdoors that you are stomping through, and they are so well done that you may even feel the sun shining down upon you while you are lying in a field trying to hide from your pursuers. Behind all these backdrops are well placed sound effects to give the right atmosphere. Things like horse's hooves clacking away, the coughs of patrons in a restaurant, and the footsteps of a cobblestone street. Combine that with a perfectly toned musical score to crank up the tension when it is needed, or simply set the stage for some mystery, all aspects of a well done story are in place from a technical standpoint.

The game is mostly done in written text, as all visual novels are, but there are many scenes of the story that give us voice acting. The voice acting is professional. Believable for all times voices are used, accents feel genuine, and the characters all give the right inflections for the tone they are trying to convey. It is some of the best voice work I have heard in a game, and spectacular considering that it is an Indie title.

Besides the voice acting, there are even a few video scenes done in that old time English cartoon way of film and presented in the silent film format. The solid black characters on solid colored backgrounds riding a horse and carriage, or an old Model-T, where you only see the whites of their eyes and teeth. Showing stories being told as they take a trip from one area to another as they are recounted to other characters. There are 3-4 of these and they are an amusing break from the reading. Between these and the voice additions you feel like you get to take some breaks from just reading quite often.

Besides the presentation being top notch, The 39 Steps has an interesting view into the time period in which this novel takes places (1910's). You are able to click on scenes that give you closer looks at objects where you can read letters, look at objects more closely to give you the more intricate details of their design, and most importantly you can read several newspapers from the time period. These newspapers aren't all fictional either. The relevant articles for the story purposes are highlighted, and can be read from an easier view text form, but there are dozens of interesting historical stories and advertisements from the historical time period. You can find articles on politics, the era's fascination with the new flying “aeroplanes”, and I even spotted an article talking about the aftermath of The Titanic in which passengers had taken them to court trying to retrieve lost belongings from America.

The 39 Steps offers an intriguing tale in a visual novel format. Professionally made, great design, and quite satisfying. Achievements are simple to get as they are given by following along with the story so it is an easy 100% game. I would recommend this to any adventure fan looking for a casual story experience. I believe you could finish this game in a few hours (My playtime is way off it didn't take nearly that long). Possibly around 5 hours or so if you spend any time reading the many newspaper articles that are presented for you to browse. Hopefully this group makes more classic adventure titles in this format because they have done a superb job with this one!

NOTE: I had never read this novel before playing the game so I cannot tell you how much you might enjoy it if you have. I enjoyed it immensely having not read the book prior to playing the game. I can only assume it would be less enjoyable to someone that has already read the source material beforehand, as it is to me almost every time I watch a film after reading the book first. ;)
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69 of 74 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 7, 2015
Original example of how a novel can be transformed into a game

The 39 Steps is a unique interactive visual novel, developed by The Story Mechanics and first released on Steam in april 2013. The game is based on the novel with the same title by John Buchan, which got quite well-known thanks to its being the inspiration for Ian Flemmings James Bond books. The novel tels the story of Richard Hannay, a bored-to-death gentleman who all of a sudden finds himself in the eye of an espionage storm. Buchans story has its flaws: some plot-turns come across as unbelievable, but the characters are drawn very fine indeed, as is the time period against which the plot evolves.

Buchans novel is followed very closely in the game, which does an excellent job in transferring the overall feel and atmosphere of the period and place during which the action takes place: London, Scotland and the English countryside early summer 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. The developers achieved this by using a brilliantly designed and executed visual style, with a lot of hand-drawn images.

Actually, the story is told in several different ways, all with their own level of interaction. The narrative part of the novel is being projected on the screen, with the player having to click through the different lines. But the game manages to introduce variety even in this simple mechanic: the tempo of the clicking varies: sometimes a screen is held onto longer, while at other times clicks has to done much faster. Dialogues are being voice-acted in a very convincing way, some self-contained stories are even being projected as short movies. There is some point-and-clicking too, although this is allways clearly indicated and not designed as a challenge or puzzle. All in all, the variety in interaction between player and game helps a lot to draw one into the story.

The awesome visuals and interesting storytelling are accompanied by a soundscape that mostly stays in the background, punctuating some important actions without drawing any attention to itself. A bit more of these, and a more convincing musical envelopment would have painted the period even better I believe. But this is only a minor quibble. More problematic are the click-and-drag actions one has to perform to unlock doors or achieve other minor tasks. These feel tucked on, and do not integrate well within the overall concept.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in visual novels, in literature or in artistic games in general. It's a real shame this development studio hasn't released any more games yet.
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80 of 91 people (88%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 14, 2013
The 39 Steps is (as most have previously stated) an interactive novel, and NOT a game. There are some elements of interactivity in the form of mouse clicks and even "drawing" patterns with the mouse from time to time, but that's about it. That said, if you know going in you're going to read and occasionally watch/listen to a story, you shouldn't be disappointed.

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the story. I would sit down and play one of the 20 or so "chapters" at a time. Having them broken down into 10-15 minute chunks like this helped and allowed me to play at my own pace. The art is very well done, though there is really no actual animation. The voice acting is well done and the ambient sounds and music are a plus.

Being that the story is set prior to WWI (and that I'm American and this is set in the U.K.), some of the dialects and terminology were a bit tricky to follow, but not so much that it detracted form the story itself. Other than that, my only real complaint is that the ending seems somewhat . . . abrupt. I certainly won't spoil anything, but I felt that another couple minutes of gametime could have wrapped it up a little better.

All-in-all, the playthrough was an enjoyable experience and I'm looking forward to The Story Mechanic's next project.

My personal rating for what it is: 7.5/10
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56 of 62 people (90%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 4, 2014
The 39 Steps leads you on a journey through lush hand-painted backgrounds, moody music, and excellent voice-acting. You are Richard Hannay, a well-to-do British gent living a boring life in London in 1914.

Calling 39 Steps a game seems to be doing it a disservice, as it is more of a interactive story that just has you along for the ride. There are points in the story where you 'control' the protoganists action, but you have no real power to affect the momentum of the narrative. The story is gripping, though, and these attempts to insert a more direct hand in the game are infrequent.

I have never read the source material, so cannot say how well it holds up to the original. The 39 Steps stands well enough on its own, though.

Achievement hunters interested in 100% games will find this one easy to complete, as achievements are awarded through story progression and are impossible to miss. I'd recommend not reading the achievement list before you start the story, though, as they could spoil some future events.

So, if spy thrillers are your thing, grab up your pipe and your brandy and dive into this one.
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49 of 53 people (92%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 31
“I believe everything out of the common. The only thing to distrust is the normal.” ― John Buchan, The 39 Steps

The Thirty-Nine Steps is originally an adventure novel and an ancestor of the spy thriller genre, written by the Scottish author John Buchan in 1915 - the first year of the World War I. It has long been reinterpreted into various other media - including Alfred Hitchcock's famous 1935 silver screen interpretation. But it is the first time we see Buchan's famous action-hero, Richard Hannay in a video game, thanks to Story Mechanics' initiative with a project of reinterpreting literature as narrative video games.

Here at the start of his adventures, Richard Hannay is a wealthy and able English gentleman with considerable social standing. He was raised in South Africa, became a successful mining engineer and took part in the Matabele Wars. He also served as an intelligence officer during the Boer War. He is realistic, self-sufficient with a diverse set of skills and means. Just before the events of the game, Hannay returns to London, only to find the routine life of a Londoner to be devastatingly boring. Just as he was about to give up on the capital, he is visited by one of his neighbors at his apartment in London. The neighbor reveals himself to be Franklin P. Scudder, a freelance spy and asks Hannay's help with a dangerous political plot. Finding himself in a web of lies and intrigue, Hannay quickly becomes the target of a manhunt, and starts his escape towards the Highlands of Scotland. Will he ever be able to clean his name and prevent a dangerous plot that would spell doom for all Europe?

The 39 Steps is a retelling of the original novel without nearly any content cut down. The atmosphere is a wondrous success weaved out of water color environments, characters displayed as foggy silhouettes and tales that belong to characters reenacted by shadowy silent motion pictures. The display is wholly elegant and thrilling, appropriate for the tone of the narration. Voice acting is marvelous - with nuances, accents and even vocal exclamations. For the part of the presentation, you are in for a feast.

As for the gameplay, on the other hand, the same cannot be said. Yes, the game is basically a visual novel but the player's participation in the narration is close to non-existent. The game could even be categorized as non-interactive considering all you actually do is some clicking to do to reveal environmental details or some mouse movements to draw certain shapes for Hannay to interact with things now and then. There is nothing you actually do, decide or participate in. You click and watch as the story unravels. On that part, one could actually prefer reading the novel rather than playing the game, but the amount of labor put into display is certainly admirable.

For the last verdict, I'll bite and recommend The 39 Steps, considering newer generations prefer watching the story through a screen rather than actually reading it. You just have to know what you are getting yourselves into before buying it. The 39 Steps is not a game; it is a beautifully arranged digital story book, and one that I can safely recommend if you are unfamiliar with the novel and/or bear no intention of reading it.

Please also check out Lady Storyteller's Curator page here - follow for regular updates on reviews for other games!
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74 of 93 people (80%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
13.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 19, 2014
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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48 of 55 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 16, 2014
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.

You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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34 of 41 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
11.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 2, 2015
This is a great blend of a video game and an e-book. Not spoiling anything, this is a great spy thriller set right before WW1. There is limited interactivity since you are usually just clicking on various locations, finding helpful items and clues, and piecing together the mystery. The artwork is fantastic. So many times I wished I could be sucked into the game just to enjoy being in the world of England 1914. While the backgrounds are stunning, the characters are given a silhouette, letting the player draw their own conclusions to their distinct features. I love the cut scenes. They are done in a silent film style, which again draws from the time period. The cast of voice actors is spot on perfect. Now whether or not this game is worth the full retail pricetag is debatable. I bought this game for 1.49 and it was well worth it. Knowing what I know now, I would have paid full price. However, I love story above all in video games. For those who are bothered with the limited interactivity, wait for a sale. I cannot wait to see what The Story Mechanics will do next! This is an indie developer I will keep my eyes on.
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