MIND: Path to Thalamus is a First Person Puzzler that throws you into a fantastic and surreal environment. You will bend the natural elements to your will in order to progress in this emotive, mindbending tale.
User reviews: Very Positive (187 reviews)
Release Date: Aug 5, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"Very beautiful narrative focussed experience with some light puzzle elements. Recommended if you like games like Dear Esther."

Recent updates View all (4)

August 14

Reworked script, new content and bug fixes

Hi players,

We have received some great feedback for the game on its first week of release. Some of the technical aspects will be fixed on the coming weeks, but something we have heard loud and clear is that the voice acting and the script are too intrusive, repetitive, and pretentious. Basically: we hear ya.


The scriptwriter for MIND, Luka Nieto, has a few words for the community:

"When I wrote the script, I did it around a game that was already essentially done. Of course, the story had already been thought up during development, and the design of the game reflects it, but how much of the story would be explicit was still on the air. When I got the job, we decided to design the storytelling with a simple premise: you would get a snippet of the story each time you solve a puzzle. We were so much inside the box of development that we couldn't see it, but we got too carried away with that premise and resorted to way too much padding, repetition and off-the-point philosophical disgressions. All I can say is our intentions were good; we knew it was filler, in a way, but it was meant to accompany you while walking. Also, the pretentious text does tried to pay off in the end —I won't spoil the ending, but the early levels in particular were certainly supposed to sound annoyingly pretentious. Obviously, we went way too far. Essentially, the feedback is clear: neither the filler nor the disgressions worked as intended.

We aren't changing our vision of the game, but we are adjusting the script so that our vision of the story is clearer and also so that it's less intrusive to the gaming experience. Right now, you'll get an update that cut outs pretty much all the filler, the repetition and the unnecessary disgressions. But soon, in September, you'll get another update with a re-structured script and lots of redone voice work, which will have a more appropriate tone and register. Both I and Greg Nugent, the voice actor, are really, really eager to work on all of this. Although we already have plenty of ideas on how to improve the script, we would love to get direct feedback from our players, so we have created a Reddit thread in which you can voice your own specific concerns. As long as you are constructive, we accept any kind of criticism, however harsh. We really do want to improve the game.

We hope today's update and the more thorough update next month will greatly improve your experience of MIND: Path to Thalamus. As I am not the man who designed it, I can say that it is a beautifully designed game, both visually and in terms of the puzzles. The story was meant to support it, not detract from it, and we hope that that will be the case soon."


Also, with this update we will bring in new content from Dani Navarro. Check out those amazing new new skies!

Changelog:
  • Fixed a bug that didn't let the player get an achievement the first time they discover the rain

  • Added two new portals in the first part of the cave, so you will walk less in that puzzle

  • Added new textures made by Dani Navarro

  • Fixed some issues with the subtitles

  • Fixed 6 bugs related to optimization issues

Regards,
MIND: Path to Thalamus Team

Reddit Thread

Website

13 comments Read more

August 5

MIND: Path to Thalamus Releases Today with a Launch Trailer

MIND: Path to Thalamus, an indie project developed by Carlos Coronado, sees the light of day today, August 5th, alongside a launch trailer focused on the gameplay and narrative features.

MIND: Path to Thalamus is priced at 13€ on Steam, available today on PC and eventually on Mac. It will soon be on DRM-free platforms such as GOG and Humble Bundle, thanks to SurpriseAttack. Later on it will be released with Oculus support and, if it all goes well, on consoles. MIND features more than 30 puzzles and 6 interactive environmental tools to solve them, such as turning day into night, covering the world in fog, summoning storms and traveling to the past. In the end, you will face down enemies by using everything you have learnt along the way. Interwoven into the gameplay itself, the story tells you about a father broken down by his mistakes, as written by Luka Nieto and performed by Greg Nugent. Additional coding was executed by Jose Ladislao.

MIND will release with additional features and bugfixes since the review copies were sent out. Predominantly, MIND will feature VSync to avoid reported ocurrances of screen tearing.

1 comments Read more

Reviews

“As visual, explorable art, it’s masterful. As a puzzle game, it’s rewarding and taxing.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“Stunning, intelligent, fun, Mind is a game that deserves to be remembered for a long time to come.”
5/5 – The Telegraph

“This game is fantastic. It’s a legit puzzle game. It is beautiful. Go out and buy it”
Jesse Cox

About This Game

MIND: Path to Thalamus is a First Person Puzzler that throws you into a fantastic and surreal environment. You will bend the natural elements to your will in order to progress in this emotive, mind-bending tale.

Change the entire environment!

Wrapped in a mind-bending tale, the gameplay of “MIND” focuses on changing the very weather in order to solve puzzles: the player will cycle between day and night, modify the levels of fog and rain and even travel in time between seasons, changing the environment to advance the gameplay-driven story —indeed, the mechanics are directly related to who the protagonist is, what has happened to him and everything he is doing: a man trapped in his own mind, he must use all the tools at his disposition to escape to reality. Accompanied by the snarky yet heartfelt narration of this comatose patient, the player will guide him through fantastical forests, dark caverns and deceptive worlds of water and ice that directly relate to his emotional state at each point in his journey.

Features

  • More than 30 different, creative puzzles seamlessly integrated into the environment.
  • 6 ways to affect the environment in order to solve the puzzles
  • More than 20 distinct landscapes into with which you will be able to interact.
  • Turn day to night, make it so everything is covered by a blinding fog, summon incredible storms, travel to the past and make use of even more as of yet unknown mechanics.
  • More than an hour of voice acting that, while integrated into the gameplay itself, will tell you a whole story that is not about saving the world but about living through the pain of a father broken by his mistakes.
  • Face down imposing climactic enemies by using your creativity and everything you have learnt along the way.
  • 22 achievements full of Easter eggs and references

Who are we?


Developed by Carlos Coronado Carlos Coronado, Dani Navarro y Luka Nieto. Aditional code by Jose Ladislao. Voice by Greg Nugent.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: Core 2 Duo E4300 1.8GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 7600 GS
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4Ghz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce GTX 660
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
A great first-person puzzler let down by weak writing and voice acting, Mind: Path to Thalamus makes amends for its crimes against literature with magnificent achievements in visual design and an almost Valve-like ability to guide players without explicit pointers. Each and every major puzzle is of just the right difficulty: head-scratchingly confusing at first, then delightfully simple and logical later. Ignore the story and this is easily one of the best looking and most intelligent games of 2014.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
Some deep ♥♥♥♥. I might have cried, which is not good becasue then I can't see the beautiful envoriment in the game.

10/10
Would cry again.
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15 of 26 people (58%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
Contrary to popular conception, I don’t revel in criticizing games, at least not ones which clearly tried to do something interesting with their concepts but wound up falling flat. Mind: Path to Thalamus is the sort of game I hate having to review; ambitious, compelling, and filled with beautifully imaginative imagery and a narrative that tries to explore intelligent themes of guilt, parental neglect, and the possibility of an afterlife. It’s a game with great potential that executes itself with an abundant lack of skill and cohesion, that by the end is almost pitiable in how poorly the experience comes together.

Entering a dreamlike world within your own head by way of a tornado induced coma, you inhabit the body (for lack of a better term) of a father drowning in a tidal wave of guilt at the death of his sister (and more recently, daughter), for which he holds himself wholly responsible. His last thread of hope is to make his way to the Tree of Thalamus, a sort of tree of life which is at the heart of this world that in some ways serves as a bridge to heaven, where he will find his sister and beg for her forgiveness.

Simply typing out that synopsis has given me an even more obvious view of how fundamentally flawed the narrative is right from the start. It consistently loses its own plot as it attempts to draw meaning out of its level designs, juxtaposing new emotional hurdles for your character to overcome while never giving any of them time to develop into anything but poorly conjured schlock, existing solely to attempt to impose some greater purpose to the narrative than the mediocre writing ever manages to do. It’s telling that at the end of the game, the developer very nearly acknowledges the absurdity of the plot, though in doing so essentially writes off everything which came before and creates even more issues which ultimately culminate in an ending that seems to have no idea whatsoever what it wants to say, wrapping itself up hastily and clumsily before it can cause further harm.

I appreciate that Mind attempts to tell a story that wishes to touch upon lesser explored themes than we often see in games, but to do so requires a great deal of forethought and an author capable of crafting something meaningful which is simply not present here. Mind drowns itself in self pity and heavy handed theology, leaving an abundance of plot holes along the way as the lone voice actor reads off a poorly worded script with a consistently over the top or lack of inflection that is little more than an embarrassment.

The pacing also suffers do to convoluted and tedious nature of the game’s puzzles, which involves placing strange tumbleweed like balls within certain areas in order to change some aspect of the level, be it making day turn to night illuminating portals or causing crumbled pieces of the environment reappear. Its mechanics are never explained nor even highlighted in such a way as to make them apparent through their effects, leaving the player to meander about levels until they may stumble into the right area and realize the subsequent result.

These areas are often hidden or placed out of the way, with the camera often being positioned in such a way as to lead you off in the wrong direction, as if the developer wanted to make them as hard to find as possible. The solutions are typically simplistic in nature, but because of the complete lack of a prior explanation of how the game’s systems work, it can be incredibly tedious to solve them. I never felt accomplished by discovering how to do so, instead a feeling much closer to relief that I could finally move on.

They also serve to disrupt the otherwise gorgeous art design of the environment, inserting stagnant architecture that is used to provide consistency for the puzzles, but often feels out of place positioned on the changing landscapes you travel between over the course of the game. In such a visually imaginative world, having these moments when parts of it clash stands out even more aggressively and greatly weakens what is easily the most well crafted element of the game.

The opening of Mind is without a doubt its strongest moment. It relates a possibility of something incredible, an excellently executed scene of a tsunami emerging out of the sea, destroying the countryside in a terrific display of destruction and chaos as our character frantically searches for his daughter. It gives the impression of lofty ambition and great promise, but only the former ever showcases again, more often than not to illustrate the danger of biting off more than you can chew.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
This is a beautfull looking first person adventure puzzler.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXDW2m9BMEo
It's probably one of the best looking games of this genre I have seen this year. The puzzles are unique and very clever and the sense of mystery draws you in even deeper. - This game deserves your attention!
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
3.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Beautiful graphics, environment and effects
Nice music
Some puzzle solving
Feels like in a dream
Perfect game
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 11
Interesting game, great visuals, emotional soundtrack. I've been wanting to try this one for a while, so when I saw it on sale, I bought it right away. The gameplay is approximately 4-5 hrs, so for a few bucks, it's well worth it. The trailer sucked me right in, but unfortunately, I wasn't as immersed into the 'Mind' as I thought I'd be... At first glance, the levels look spectacular. But then after walking around for a while, you realize that the level design is usually limited to a small boxed off area (delineated by a picket fence in the game) with invisible walls. All of the backgrounds are just static images, so no matter how long you stare at the gorgeous artful of the sky, there's nothing dynamic about it at all. Some of the puzzles are very clever (I definitely encountered a few head scratchers), but most of them feel a tedious for no reason. The story is also quite confusing, and any in-game 'NPCs' look and feel like they were copied straight from an N64 game. It's too bad because this game had so much going for it, but the static environments, tedious puzzles, rigid characters, and confusing story made it really difficult to fully immerse myself in what the game developers had to offer. Still a great buy to have some fun for a night.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
This game is ambitious. It attempts to tell a complex personal story, build amazing environments, and puzzle the player. It succeeds at two of these goals.

The environments are incredible. The lighting is just heavenly (if not blinding) and gives a surreal out of this world vibe to every environment. Of course it also helps that the mechanics of the game revolve around manipulating the world and the levels react dramatically to your actions. The level design and visual direction of this game never fail, and it is this element that kept me going through the game. I was always excited to be dropped into a new level and always looked forward to moving on to the next one.

The puzzles were good as well. The main mechanic of the game is super simple: dropping balls into circles. But depending on the circle you dropped the ball into the environment will change in a specific way (change fog level, start raining, ect.) which will move elements of the puzzle. I don't want to say to much more because it is better to go into the puzzles blind, but look at every nook and cranny, everything is there for a reason.

But I think the story ultimately fails. The dialogue is just not performed well honestly and it takes away from the game. Every once in a while their will be non spoken moments that move the story forward, and I think those are really special. When the music (super good soundtrack by the way) and visuals are doing all the talking, this game can deliver an emotional punch. But whenever the protagonist starts talking, he just comes off as a redditor trying to sound very smart. It bothers me because I like the core ideas of the story, but it's just not delivered consistently.

But overall, this is just a good puzzle game that has great graphics and cool puzzles. Get it on sale if you really like first person puzzlers.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
Original game with beautiful visuals and some nice puzzles.
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6 of 10 people (60%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
I haven't played the rest of the game yet, but first 15 minutes were like experiencing the Tibetan book of the dead. Really impressive!!!
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6 of 10 people (60%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 8
Beautiful , this is the word
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 28
Highly recommend this game. Great music and fun yet not too difficult puzzles.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
really great looker and man if you like puzzles then there are real gems here.
while the game is short but it was one of those that puts the 'Q' in quality for puzzles.
there is not enough praise this game can have especially if you have your headphones on as accompanying the puzzles are a bunch of really great background soundtracks. the only issue i have is the fact that the nerve ball is literally obscuring about 70% of the screen as the game does not look bad at all from puzzle to the next uzzle is just breath taking.
you just have to try the game even if you are a bad puzzle solver ^^
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
Those interested in an ambient and relaxing puzzle game that appeals to the visual/audio sensory should buy this.
The art style is fairly unique and symbolizes feelings/things in the character's life.

Though I've only played roughly 30 min of this game I can already tell its a good one.

Overall - 9.5/10

PS. Use good head phones if you have them for a more enjoyable experience.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
This is not the type of game i ussualy play, but this will blow your mind. I highly recomend you to get it even if you are not a fan of the genere. 11/10 yes that good.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 10
In Brief
Mind: Path to Thalamus is a flawed walk-'em-up with puzzle elements, but it is so, so very pretty that it is worth playing on that basis alone.

Most valuable resource: The art. Oh my heavens the art. Mind is the most artistically beautiful game I've ever played.
Of interest to: people who enjoyed Dear Esther and Myst.

What a conflicting game. Mind brings to mind first and foremost Dear Esther. Both are tales of a man exploring the concept of loss through imagery and an internal journey across a landscape painted in his own memories. However there is just as strong a link to Myst: an adventure game where progress is driven by puzzle solving, but where primacy is given to the stunning backgrounds and fantastic, surreal locations through which you find yourself traveling. The couple of moments of full video integration into the game (which is done supremely well and to great effect) really do evoke the groundbreaking work of the Millers.

Before I mention the flaws in this game - and boy are there some whomping great big flaws - I want to call attention to the visuals. The quality of the art in this game is exceptional. The whole artistic theme of the game, throughout all the puzzles, all the narrative sequences, right up to the closing credits, is faultless. Every single part of the world is composed expertly in all directions, including the sky above and the ground beneath your feet (and sometimes also the sky beneath your feet). If you completely excised the story, the art alone would make for a worthy experience, like walking slowly through a surrealist art exhibition. I took so many screenshots while playing that I felt like a tourist taking happy snaps. If they release a big glossy coffee table book of the art from this game I would pay real money for it. If you're a pixel ♥♥♥♥♥ who gets off on stunning, striking, truly gorgeous art, this game is worth the entry fee on that basis alone.

However - and this is a big however - there are several serious flaws with this game which take away from the experience in very significant ways. As with my review of The Moon Sliver, another worthy but flawed narrative game, I hope that by preparing you for those flaws in advance they will not reduce your enjoyment of the game to the degree they did mine.

The first issue is purely one of game design. The puzzles in this game revolve around moving these gorgeous glowing woven wicker spheres to different places on the map, and about a third of the time you're in the game (or more if you find the puzzles a struggle involving a lot of trial and error, as I did) you'll be carrying one of these spheres, and when you pick one up it fills the centre of the screen, making it hard or sometimes impossible to see what's right in front of you. In a game as strongly visual as this (and one with so many bottomless holes in the terrain), the decision to give the player what amounts to cataracts for a good portion of the time is a terrible, terrible one.

The second major issue is the story, or rather the telling of it. Without any spoilers, the premise is so incredibly familiar that within the first two scenes of the game you will believe you know the entire plot, and you will be correct. I'll compare it to Dear Esther again because that's just the most applicable benchmark game when it comes to this type of storytelling. In Dear Esther the whole game is a blur of the real and the imaginary, you're never sure whether the protagonist is projecting onto his environment or experiencing fantastic elements in his own mind. Even at the very conclusion of that game those questions are never really answered; it is up to you, the player, to consider the narrative and interpret what you have just experienced and to arrive at an understanding of the game yourself. The story is masterfully constructed, and respects the old writer's adage that it is better to show than to tell.

The writers of Mind: Path to Thalamus set up some imagery that is intended to communicate the bigger themes and questions to the player, but then they convey it all so heavy-handedly that they practically bludgeon you over the head with it. The biggest spoiler you will ever read for this game is the title of the game itself. There is a sequence towards the end of the game where all the imagery up to that point is literally explained to you - they have a voice-over sequence that literally lists the metaphors you've encountered and tells you what each one meant. It is atrocious. In a game that is visually so subtle and well composed it causes me actual pain to see the story - whose premise is not original but is certainly not bad, and is certainly worth exploring - butchered so bluntly. Either the authors were so keen that their lovingly-crafted narrative be understood that they could not help but explain it, or they lacked confidence in their writing and over-compensated, or they thought so little of their audience that they felt they needed to be spoon-fed. I charitably hope it's the former; I hope it's not a case of an auteur game designer too wrapped up in himself to allow the players to control their own experience of his artistic creation lest they experience it wrong. Whatever the medium, good artistic narrative flows naturally; if you need to put it on rails, you've not crafted the narrative well enough.

Although all credit to the developers for the way they handled the release; it has to be noted that when community feedback suggested the story was a bit pretentious, and "too wanky", they responded to the critique like true professionals, took that information on board, and deployed changes to the game when there really was no expectation that they would, or should, so they deserve props for that. For such a new, loose collective they managed such an ambitious project, and its release, impeccably.

However putting those two concerns aside, the game is a perfect length and is technically without problems (except for a little screen tearing I couldn't resolve), the puzzles have a gentle gradient that offers a fairly unique challenge that is the perfect mix of simple mechanics guided by logical, deductive reasoning, and as much as the conclusion of the story is mishandled, the final scenes in the game are visually and in terms of gameplay truly epic. Get Mind: Path to Thalamus to experience walking through a gorgeously detailed, artistically flawless, stunningly beautiful surreal landscape, while dealing with organic, natural, thoughtful puzzles. If you prepare yourself for the issues with the narrative you will be able to put that aside and just enjoy what is - and I can't use this word enough - the most artistically gorgeous game I've played.

Support this game and these developers; even though Mind: Path to Thalamus is flawed, it is still a great game, highly recommended, and the sort of game we need more of.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 10
Visually and sonically beautiful, it definitely plays scale, minimalism, and surrealism to its benefits. Plenty of interesting puzzles to go along with the environments, though it only took around 3 hours to get through all of it. Considering the gameplay pacing, I'd say this was appropriate. I'm not totally sure what parts of the acting and script people were complaining about, so it must be fixed by now. Granted, the story could have done more with the emotions that it set up.

Anyway, it was overall a very positive experience for me. Keep in mind, it's probably not for everyone. If you like more aesthetically-minded games and don't mind a lack of much action, you should appreciate it. If you're looking for fast-paced, look elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 11
Play time ~8 hours

Pretty decent game. Not super challenging, but still makes you think. And actually the last few stages were pretty cool and required more thinking. I like how the game allowed for non-violent conflicts to manifest in interesting ways: man vs _blank_, without blood, gore etc. Great work developer! Voice acting and sand was pretty good, and the graphics are stellar. Overall excellent work, highly recommended.

Note to dev: The puzzles could have been more challenging.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
If you seek a puzzle game with challenging riddles and beautiful landscape both, this one is for you.
"Mind: Path to Thalamus" is the most beautiful puzzle game I've ever seen in my life.You can spend time just by walking around. Even if you are stuck, you only have to enjoy breath-taking view to refresh yourself.
There were several unneccesary things, anyway. I would be greateful if select button displayed a map instead of CTF options.
Oh, and yes. If you are familiar with human anatomy, the subtitle is a big spoiler for you.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 19
What a great game. Very symbolic, with a good plot. Some of the puzzles become tedious so it's best to space gameplay out into a few sittings. The visuals are gorgeous though.

One area of improvement would be the script. It starts off alright, but the end comes suddenly and sort of throws everything in your face. Some concession should be made as this game was made by a Spanish game development team.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 24
It's clear, that a lot of love went into creating this game. It's heartbreakingly beatufiful and heartbreakingly... heartbreaking. I feel bad for paying only 4 euros for it, it would have deserved more of my money.
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