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 (436 reviews)
Release Date: Apr 25, 2013

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Recommended By Curators

"A really neat mystery novel turned into a really neat interactive experience. Remains fun and intriguing throughout. Very casual game done right."
Read the full review here.

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

Mac OS X


    • 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
64 of 66 people (97%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 25
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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11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 15
This is not an adventure, it's not even a game. It is interactive fiction, but don't think that you have actual influence on the story. That said I'm not complaining about the fact that it isn't a game, since it tells a quite interesting story in an interesting way. The pacing might feel odd here and there, the gesture 'minigames' are misplaced and the visuals while being nice to look at are nothing special. Still I enjoyed the novel presented this way. The story goes a bit here and there, but in the end gets to a closure.

I won't recommend this 'game' if you are looking to play an adventure (like I did), but if you enjoy novels presented in a slightly interactive way with a good amount of decent voice acting, this one might be for you.

P.S.: 10$ might be a bit much for the ride though.
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 2
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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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2014
I didn't read the actual novel itself, but this adaptation is superb. The acting, the atmosphere and the art - all of it is very beautiful indeed. The credits soundtrack is a beaut too.
Might as well start reading the novel.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
Let's get this out of the way first: This is an interactive story. Not a video game in the traditional sense, as there are no possible 'Fail' states.

With that said, this is a fantastic retelling of John Buchan's epic novel 'The 39 Steps'. A beautifully-rendered feature, with some good voice acting. You effectively play your way through fictitious events leading up to the Great War. You follow the story of Richard Hanny - who has led a very interesting life, but finds himself in London, bored, with little to do, despite sitting on a pile of money.

Then, events transpire, a murder is committed, and Hannay is framed. Puzzling out the clues left behind by the unfortunate victim, Hanny retraces the poor fellow's steps, and vows to complete what the man alas could not.

What follows is an adventure to rural Scotland, a story of a man on the run, from the law, and from the mysteious 'Black Stone' - an organisation out to stop Hannay by any means necessary!

A really great story, and one that encouraged me to read the book. That - in my opinion - is enough for me to hit that 'Positive' button.

This game isn't for everybody, as it is a slow-burn, with no critical elements to deal with. But if you're fond of interactive novels, this is a must-have.

As it happens, I recorded my playthrough - so do please feel free to have a look for yourself before deciding!
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 18
Okay, be ready not to play but to read a lot thoughtfully. You don't have any choice while reading, all the process is strongly linear like a book. It's not a shortage, it's a fresh experience.
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 25
The team behind this have done a really good job. The artwork is fantastic, The sound effects and musical score is great, and the voice acting is spot on for the era the book is set in. They have tried to make an 'interactive' digital book, of course your interactions cannot change the outcome as they are purely re-telling an abridged version of the book.

I like what they are trying to do here, however I did find the mouse gestures pretty much pointless and a waste of time. I did like the moments of exploring the immediate vicinity for extra information but again not wholly necessary and they were few and far between.

As much as I liked this I do wonder how much I would of enjoyed if I knew nothing about the book. Taking a step back this is a very shortened version of the story and I feel the some of the gaps could make it uneasy to follow without prior knowledge.

I am still not fully convinced this is a great way to get to know a book. Clearly, actually getting the intended story and reading is far better but I would like to try this with a book I have no knowledge of and see how it plays out.

However, I do recommend this to people who like The 39 Steps and to people who are open minded to trying new things.
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8 of 11 people (73%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 23
The 39 Steps is a beautiful take on a visual novel. And yes, it is a visual novel, if you had any doubts about it, let go of them now. Visual novel, full time.

First, let me hit the up sides, just to get them out of the way. The graphics are gorgeous. Paintings of London, and Scottish landscapes, mountains, tiny villages, all of them absolutely stunning, screenshot worthy to say the least. Once in a while, when one of the characters tells a story, you get a cutscene animated in the cutest, old time cartoon style. Those were really enjoyable, and slightly funny.

Music is delicate, simple and very suitable for the story. Exactly the sort of music you would expect to play in an espionage thriller.

I am kind of torn on the voice acting. On one hand, can't deny it's pretty much perfect, professional on all aspects. On the other hand... it's theater style acting. Which I'm not a fan of in games. It's over the top, exclaiming shocking findings in a fake, obvious tone and such. I feel theater style voice acting should stay in the theater.

But now... The down sides.

The mechanism for progressing the text is definitely original, if somewhat redundant, and in a while gets really annoying. The necessity of doing little circles with your mouse to progress the game quickly gets boring, and before you know it, you start clicking away, trying to hurry it the hell up.

Game also bugged out on me a couple of times in pause menu, forcing me to replay whole chapters, clicking even more furiously, as I've already read all this stuff.

But the real pain is... the story. Perhaps the book originally is way better, more detailed, shows more depth and simple logic. But what we see in the game is an extremely far fetched story, where everyone believes everyone for no apparent reason, where people entrust the biggest, life threatening secrets to strangers they barely met, where all a person needs to do, is change their attitude, to suddenly become unrecognisable...

The amount of ridiculousness, lack of logic and pure stupidity of the story, and its main character, were more than I could bear. After a short while I couldn't enjoy the witty cutscenes, gentle music, or lovely landscapes. I just wanted to be over with it, finish this thing...

If only the graphics, cutscenes, music, and even voice acting were used with a different story, it might have been truly impressive. Perhaps the story requires too much detail to be squeezed into a visual novel, but it didn't work with it, and wasted good resources on something, that ended up being a real pain to get through.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 1
The 39 Steps is a video-game (a term I use very lightly here) based on the novel by Scottish author John Buchan concerning the intrigue and sinister goings-on just before the start of World War I. It is more digital adaptation than video-game, playing very much like a click-lite adventure on rails. That is there are no puzzles and no decision-trees to take you on potentially different paths. The objective is singluar, to experience all chapters of the story in order to discover the significance of The 39 Steps.

You take on the role of the protaganist; Richard Hannay who must journey across England and Scotland in order to uncover the significance of The 39 Steps, by uncovering a sinister plot against the leader of another country, while on the run from the law and chased by agents of an unknown group hell-bent on stopping him.

What you can expect to experience is a excellent story told and visualized in a great way using a number of graphical vehicles such as canvas paintings, old projector style moving pictures, newspapers, letters and maps, all crafted by passionate hands. While I would in no way call it a Triple-A title; art, voice-acting, music and sounds all add to a generally foreboding atmosphere, while encouraging you to continue through each scene. The voice-acting in particular is wonderfully done, reeling you in to what is a well paced thriller with sporadically placed scenes of action.

The 'game' works as a whole because it transforms the words and pages of the book into visually evocative scenes capturing the essence of the narration. Really the only interaction is two-fold: a number scenes where the player must examine items to gain more insight into the story and, a few places where the player must draw using the mouse to emulating performing a task. As you play you gain access to cards which outline important subjects from the book which can be examined whenever you wish.

Being a fan of the original book and a number of movie adaptations the purchase of The 39 Steps on Steam was a no-brainer. For someone who doesnt like to read or listen to a story being told and would rather play a video game in the traditional sense, I would urge them to go play something more action-oriented.

A very enjoyable adaptation of a great story.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 3
I havn't played many games from the visual novel genre but I doubt that I can find one as good as The 39 Steps. It's a masterpiece that got me caught in it's story for 6 hours. The visuals and the soundtrack are really good. The story flows as if you're watching a real good movie and I've never heard a better voice acting in any other game ever. Perfection is the only word that describes this game
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 7
A very nice storytelling Visual Novel in the early 19th Century of the British Empire with great british and scotts dialects and purely fine Sounds.

When you like fine Storys buy it...
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
I was only vaguely familiar with the story when I started to play (I had some vague impressions about watching a film of the same name).

I really enjoyed the story, and I finished all the achievements in one playthrough of the game.

I've been left feeling as if I've missed something during my playthough though (I'm not sure if collected all the cards), so will be taking another look at the game in the future!
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 2
First things first: this is not a game but a digital adaptation (with some interactive elements) of the same-titled novel.

Having read the book I have to say they did well. It starts off a bit slow until you get used to the means the story is told with (e.g. newspapers you find, movies that tell parts of the story, dialogue scenes with brilliant voice acting). Once you get past that it's just as good as the book is (which has a slow start as well mind you).

If you explore everything thoroughly it'll take about 4,5 hours to finish it, well worth the money especially if you get it on sale. Be warned though, this is only available in English. For those having trouble understanding the different dialects there is an option to have it all in "standard" English - even with Gaelic subtitles if you'd like that.

Get this if you like some creative entertainment that goes beyond video games. And if you have played a bit of Team Fortress 2 I'm sure you'll burst out laughing just as I did when the French General talks about the nature of the spy.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 29
A visual retelling of John Buchan's novel "The 39 Steps" ticks all the boxes if you are looking for something that has great voice acting, keen artistic visuals and a great little espionage story. There's not much here to do as a player, and you could very well finish it over a weekend pick-up/put-down instead of watching Dr. Who or History Channel repeats.

The addition of authentic archived newspapers was a real bright spot for me. Certain parts were highlighted as relevant for flavour and the story, but equally interesting (if not amusing at times) are some of the ads for health tonics, men's moustache grooming products and the like.

The soundtrack and ambiance creates just the right atmosphere as you step in the shoes of Hannay in a grand tale of pre-WWI espionage. Incidentally, parts of the OST are available for free via a link in the game forum here on Steam.

A note for Mac players: The achievements currently unlock in-game only, and don't appear in your Steam profile (should that be a deal-breaker for you)

Also pssst....stick through the end credits for a little easter egg.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 25
A brilliant, well-made, well-executed digital adaptation of the famous novel.
It plays out like a visual novel split into nineteen nicely paced 10-minute chapters that are not only beautifully stunning to look at but also a joy to listen to with lovely sound effects and some of the best voice acting I have heard in a while - headphones recommended! Along with the visual novel comes interactive sequences, items to inspect and read, and awards and 'cards' to achieve. Extremely well-presented and a high quality AAA-like feel is present throughout the entire game. It fully immersed me and I did not stop playing it once I began through to completion. Highly recommended title, and if you are hesitant given the interactive novel sale just buy it on sale - no excuse not to own this one! Highly, highly recommended. It made me go out and buy the book immediately after I finished playing.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
First of all, it should be pointed out that this is not really a game. It is a cinematic adaptation from a novel, and although you have some small interaction ability, you´ll be more time watching/reading/listening than actively making things happen.

The adaptation follows the original novel quite faithfully, so your choice of skipping what can be skipped or the order in which you decide to uncover the clues will have no consequence on the result. It must be said also, that the 39 Steps is a novel that has a particular old-fashioned flavour: As many works of the same period, it is full of national -British in this case- pride, is filled with not too politically correct stereotypes about foreigners (basically Germans) and can be even funny because of its naivitée in many aspects.

Still, I would recommend giving this experience a go for it is something different in its approach. The artwork is elegant and beautiful, the voice-acting is very good while keeping in tune with the era it´s recreating. I also liked the use of old photographs to illustrate some episodes, and the options for having subtitles and having the story run in Gaelic, with accents or without.

If you enjoy old-fashioned novels or you´re looking for a new way to experience books, this will do the trick. It may be a bit slow at times as you can´t speed up dialogues and because the concept of "thriller" 80 years ago was not exactly ours, but you will enjoy it, especially if sipping a "cuppa".
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 7
THIS IS NOT A GAME. That needs to be made clear because someone expecting a game of some sort will be disappointed. It's not even a point and click that requires any thinking. This cannot even be compared to Phoenix Wright. This is a book with digital pictures and voice-work and rare animation. It is aptly described as a digital adaptation. How do we set it apart from a book with pictures? Sound, voice-work and interactive page-turning.

That said, here's the review: WHAT IT DOES, IT DOES VERY WELL. The sounds are crisp and very effective, the voice-work is professional level and well cast, the artwork is beautiful, the pictures (i think they are retrieved from actual existing sources of non-fiction, such as newspapers, museums, etc.) go the distance and the work put in to get them shows, to me, the passion with which this work was made. The soundtrack is also excellent and hightens the mood.

I enjoyed the craftsmanship here.

The thing is, it does harm to both the worlds it draws upon:

- as an interactive game, it never challenges you, never makes you think, never puzzles you, nor does it require any skill to advance.
- as a book, since you don't go through it at the rate you read a book, at the pace the author envisioned, it ends up not being as thrilling. Plus, it gives sound and image to something that never lives up to the reader's imagination, a common complaint in film adaptations.
You could say that, like a film, that's bound to happen. The difference is, when you're making a film, no matter how faithful to the source material, it frees itself from it because the author of the film knows it's a new medium and that, in that respect, it's something new. It's the film's author approach.
Here, since it's just a helping visualization, there's never that approach. Just images, sounds and transitions.

To sum up, this is a very well made digital adaptation. Go through it and you'll see the passion about the project and the tremendous respect for the book. I loved this because i spent every second appreciating the level of craftsmanship (my hat's off to thee, Simon Meek. I'll buy the next one) and the fine words of a great book, but, since i'm on Steam, i'd suggest either reading a book or playing a game. Those of you just wanting to play a game or reading a book will end up frustrated both counts here...
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: March 22
I enjoyed playing through this one. Most of the time when you hear "ditigal novel" you think of the typical Japanese-style ones we're all familiar with, but this story is something different. The style is quite original. The art is excellent, the voice acting pretty good. I didn't enjoy some aspects, like the parts where you needed to make mouse gestures to continue - I felt they broke the immersion a little too much. I also didn't have any luck with the mouse controls (apparently you can advance the story by moving the mouse in circles, which seems like a clumsy way to do it considering how much text there is to advance), but fortunately you can simply press the right arrow key instead. The story itself felt a little absurd and forced at times, but that's just the style of the author, and I managed to look past it and enjoy the ride. Overall, a pleasant experience, and one I would recommend.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 26
If you're into far-fetched plots, such as; the old James Bond novels, the recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations, and even the new Kingsman: The Secret Service film, you should probably look into getting this.

The 39 Steps has a fairly gripping story (based in 1914), some deep (but optional) character development, and the art is pretty sweet. In my opinion this visual novel is a decent, yet under-rated, adaptation of a classic book by John Buchan and is worth a playthrough. However, I do recommend to buy this when on sale (as I did), just in case you don't enjoy it as much as you expected to, and, because there is no way of recieving money back (no Trading Card drops).

P.S -
The new Kingsman film ran for 2.5 hours and I was charged over £6 on entry.
The 39 Steps takes over 4 hours to finish and I was charged 99p (like I said, I got it on sale).
Just think about that a moment.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
If you want a better experience for this story, read the book, or watch one of the movies (there are currently 3 plus a made for tv movie).

As a "game" it is only barely passable.

It was clearly adapted from a mobile platform and you can tell.

Give this one a pass.
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