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 (642 reviews) - 77% of the 642 user reviews for this game are positive.
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

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
Customer reviews
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Mostly Positive (642 reviews)
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429 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 30
"The 39 Steps" is, down to its core, a slightly-interactive-novel. That being said - it's not "bad" by any means. For what it is, it's incredibly well done, and a means in which I would love to continue consume various forms of classical fiction.

Based on the original espionage thriller "The 39 Steps" by John Buchan, you can definitely see where modern day spy stories came from - predating popular fictional characters like James Bond by at least 30 years. This story takes place on the verge of WWI and introduces a character named Richard Hanny, a man on the run after a young American spy divulges sensitive information to him. The game is presented mostly in beautifully painted backdrops, fuzzy silhouettes and the occasional shadow puppet show (of which are quite entertaining). These backgrounds take you from inner-city London, to the moors of Scotland and back again. There isn't much gameplay to be had (to my slight disappointment), but what is present is likened to that of a game like "TRAUMA" - drawing shapes and clicking on things to carry through the cutscene-like chapters.

Simply put - the game is awesome for what it is - but it really needs a bit more interactivity. There is one part that involves the character decoding a notebook. I got really excited, thinking that I'd at least have a mini-game or a puzzle to figure out the code, but alas - the game just carries on like the book. They allow you to zoom in and out on objects you see in the environments - here I am, thinking that I'll have to do some Sherlock Holmes work and pick out clues from the zoomed-in objects, but alas - there isn't much to discover but a few timeline-appropriate advertisements and newspaper articles.

I would love to digest all sorts of fiction this way. From Sherlock Holmes to H.P. Lovecraft to Franz Kafka - I would love to have this sort of artwork and voice acting and sound effects, mood, pacing, attention to detail, and the ease of taking it in via separate chapters (just incase I need to leave and come back to it) - albeit, more interactivity would be preferred
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 18
There is not much you do in this game it is more like watching slow movie of man on run. There is much to read so understanding english very well is needed if you want to get all of it. Even talking text is some times hard because of accent. But story is very classic and good! Voice acting is amazing and art is so beatiful! This is very much worth the price.
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3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 14
This is an interesting game from a certain point of view. I enjoyed playing it, does have a special graphic and game mechanics, the overall sound is okay. Keeps you entertained and satisfied.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 29
My god this is dull. The standard of presentation in terms of the interface, the artwork and the voice acting is excellent. If only it could have been used in service of a better story. The first couple of chapters put the pieces in place for a potentially interesting tale of political conspiracy, however the ensuing several chapters squander this potential by taking our unlikeable protagonist on an endless run through the Scottish countryside, stopping to have a natter with whomever he accosts. In between the banal smalltalk, I struggled to remember what exactly the plot was, and consequently had little idea what was happening when it finally picked up the pace in the concluding chapters. This game represents a brilliant execution of an awful story. Avoid.
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1 of 3 people (33%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 23
I am sure the story is interesting later on or whatever, but this 'game' (visual novel being a more appropriate description) is boring. The characters are not interesting. The pacing is slower than a dead snail. The layout and overall design is awful.
I would prefer to just read the book, but now I've played this game I can be certain I'll never pick up the novel for fear I will be put into a comatose state reading it.

It has trading cards, however, so it was worth the $0.50 or whatever I paid for it on sale.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
83 of 89 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
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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72 of 77 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
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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82 of 93 people (88%) found this review helpful
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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58 of 64 people (91%) found this review helpful
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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52 of 56 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
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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Recently Posted
Mighty Pillow
4.1 hrs
Posted: October 13
I think The 39 Steps did the best job it could given the circumstances.

- Interesting, suspenseful storyline that is true to the source material
- Nice visuals to accompany the story
- Good voice acting
- Reading was given in chunks so it did not feel overwhelming
- I liked how the chapters were broken up so I could play through the game at my own pace

- What was the deal with drawing the arrow shapes? I didn't understand the purpose of those parts.
- The black screen reading moments were kind of annoying because the order in which you should read them wasn't ever made clear. I later found out that you should read them clockwise starting at 1:00
- At times the dialect was hard to understand

I can't say that I was very fond of the story itself, but I can say that The 39 Steps was satisfying for what it was. If you are looking for a easy and basically gameplay free story experience, pick this up.

I was a little jolted at the end there, but there are no jump scares.
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2.1 hrs
Posted: October 5
This is an extremely well done interactive experience, bringing to life an interesting story full of intrigue and suspense. The art is excellent and really gives a feel for the beauty of Scotland's countryside. The music is well done, and the voice acting is quite good, reminiscent of a radio drama. The plot is well written and it seems to be well served by its new format.
This isn't really much of a game, as there is only a singluar path to go down, with no player choice or real consequences for interaction but I thought it was unique enough in its storytelling methods to receive a heartfelt recommendation.
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4.0 hrs
Posted: October 3
An awesome way to tell a story - interactive and intrestingly made.
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3.9 hrs
Posted: October 1
Its not a game, its a pile of garbage.
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Oscarjames | PRIVATE BUYER
3.8 hrs
Posted: September 20
Highly recommended! :)
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