Samantha and Lillian are best friends. At least, they were, until everything fell apart. Now, Samantha has a day to repair their relationship – but is it already too late?
User reviews:
Overall:
Mixed (126 reviews) - 69% of the 126 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Aug 4, 2015

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July 19

Empty Horizons released

Hi guys,

My newest VN, Empty Horizons, has just been released on Steam! It has the same writer/artist combination as Asphyxia does, so if you like the writing and artwork of Asphyxia, you might fancy taking a look. The writing style of EH is very different to Asphyxia's, though - it's not nearly as flowery, and everybody speaks in a much more naturalistic way.

The VN also has Steam achievements and trading cards~

http://store.steampowered.com/app/496630/

- Ebi x

1 comments Read more

June 8

Empty Horizons - New VN on Greenlight

Hi, everyone!

I recently finished working on another relatively short VN called Empty Horizons. It's not super similar to Asphyxia, being GxB instead of GxG, and the writing style is very different (the dialogue is a lot more naturalistic) - but the art was done by the same artist (SillySelly) and the writing was done by the same writer (me, Ebi-hime).

Also, the relationship between the two leads in EH was somewhat inspired by the constant bickering between Roberta and Georgia. I liked writing Roberta and Georgia a lot, so EH was something of an excuse to play around with similar character archetypes.

If you liked the art in Asphyxia, or the back-and-forth banter, please consider voting for it!

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=695675322

And more information can be found out about it here, if you are so inclined.

Thank you!
<3

3 comments Read more

About This Game

Samantha is depressed. She’s been depressed for a long time, almost as long as she can remember, but it’s slowly been getting worse.
She thought Lillian was her friend, her best friend. Perhaps she even thought of her as more than that.
Why, then, did their relationship have to fall apart? Was it really her fault? She didn’t do anything wrong. At least, she didn’t intend to.
Now, three months later, Samantha finally has her chance. Forced together on their geography field trip to the Lake District, will she finally be able to repair her relationship with Lillian – or will it collapse all over again?

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Win XP+
    • Processor: 1Ghz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX or OpenGL compatible card
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: MacOS
    • Processor: 1 Gz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1 Gz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Mixed (126 reviews)
Recently Posted
Luv Yan
( 2.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 14
I think from now on when we're measuring how emo someone is we'll just say 'how emo are they from a scale of 1 to Samantha'?
8/10 would pay $100 for a game just about Byron being Byron
Helpful? Yes No Funny
seer of life
( 6.6 hrs on record )
Posted: July 13
TL;DR - Asphyxia is extremely depressing and realistic. I personally can't recommend it, but by all means buy it if that floats your boat.
---
In order to keep this review from getting too personal, I will not criticise anything here because, whether you like it or not, this game is very realistic, and that is what I'm going to talk about. I personally cannot bring myself to recommend it, but you may decide whether to take what's said here in a positive or negative light.

If I had to choose one word to define Asphyxia, that would be "depressing". Our protagonist, Samantha, suffers from severe depression, doesn't even try to conceal her self-loathing, and frequently mentions toxic habits and suicidal ideas. Her condition has an impact on her close relationships and, to top it off, she is completely obsessed with a former friend who treated her like rubbish. It's almost like she either likes suffering or doesn't care enough to change.

And that is true. The thing with Asphyxia is that it shows the ugly truth of many mental illnesses. It is common for us to lose sight of ourselves and get used to such plaguing mentality, yet desperately cling to whatever shard of hope we may find, even if it hurts us. Ironically, it is also common for us to become self-absorbed and fail to see how we affect others. And it is common for us to indulge in such suffering for whatever unconscious reason. That doesn't mean we don't want to change. We try, but we're stuck in this inertia and getting out of it is so hard, that we end up secretly contenting ourselves with the way things are. We're walking contradictions. In Samantha's case, her behaviour seems like a covert cry for help and the result of extreme need for love and attention. Her "shard of hope" is Lillian, the person she fell in love with, despite being mistreated by her. Samantha is, unfortunately, a very realistic character.

That is why I say that Asphyxia is not an enjoyable game. It is, in fact, very frustrating, because it shows the painful truth. You choose how to face that truth, however. Would you like to understand those issues a little better while keeping yourself detached from these characters, or would the super negative writing only make you annoyed/bored/upset? Would you like to accept that part of you that Samantha represents, or does it only make you angry because she reminds you of yourself; because she doesn't seem to even consider changing anymore, even when you may be living proof that such a thing is possible? That is up to you.

(On the technical side, dialogue can be a little verbose and tiring, and despite all of those proofreaders, I did catch more than just a few typos. Art is very nice, though.)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Canvas Confessions
( 6.5 hrs on record )
Posted: July 4
Asphyxia is a game with a lot of potential, but little to offer. Ultimately, I was very disappointed.

The artstyle is absolutely beautiful to me, and it was the first thing that drew me to the game.
It's definitely the biggest pro of playing. The soundtrack wasn't too shabby either.

Unfortunately, the biggest drawback is the story itself. It is pretty weak and largely incomplete,
leaving several seemingly important matters largely left open, unexplored, and unresolved.

((spoilers))
((like the main character's problem with self-harm, the implied past ♥♥♥♥/sexual assault? and her ultimate future))

I don't have a lot to say about the game past that, because there isn't much to say in general.
It's simply a story with a good base but no further development.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
LivingLikeLarry
( 0.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 30
Product received for free
CAME FOR PORN. NO PORN.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
todaylookslikerain
( 3.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
Cons:
- Feels too short and ends rather abruptly. The length is perfectly fair for the asking price, but in terms of narrative, I was unsatisfied with the endings. (But to be fair, being unsatisfied fits the story, so maybe this was intentional?)
- There are some characters who feel unnecessary, like they're just thrown in to cram more genderbent poets into the plot. If the story was longer, it would've been interesting to see how they developed.
- Some conversations/scenes are too long and definitely could've used some trimming.

Neutral:
- Some people might find the story too heavy or the main character annoying (she's basically female Shinji Ikari), but this wasn't the case for me. She's very depressed and IMO, in a very relatable way.
- This isn't a dating sim. If you go into this game expecting that, you're going to be disappointed. However, I feel like this is pretty clear from the description and the negative reviews critiquing this point are ridiculous.
- At first I felt like the art style didn't fit the narrative (too infantile for the characters' ages), but in retrospect, I ended up liking it. The clash between the story and art ended up feeling appropriate. Kind of reminded me of Madoka in that regard.
- It's not an "enjoyable" game, but that doesn't mean it's a bad game. It's pretty dark with some harsh truths.

Pros:
- The relationship between Samantha and Lillian. It's incredibly unhealthy and made my heart hurt a lot.
- No, seriously, you're gonna feel like chugging a bottle of bourbon after playing this game.
- Very realistic depictions of mental illness and toxic friendships. The "good" ending felt like the worst one for the main character. Lillian was right in that they're bad for each other. You can love someone intensely but know that your relationship is toxic. The other endings hammered in that your happiness shouldn't be anchored in one person and I don't see things ending well for either of them if Lillian enables Samantha's obsessive behavior.
- Pretty art and music.

Objectively, I feel like it deserves a "mixed" review, since it's definitely not for everyone and there's a fair bit to critcize. But it had a pretty major emotional impact on me, and for me personally, that's enough to outweighs any of its faults. If you've ever experienced depression and/or a complicated friendship, you're probably much more inclined to like this game.

tl;dr - http://imgur.com/2wf8zL1
Helpful? Yes No Funny
SDGund.
( 9.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 6
An intriguing visual novel where you can find all extremes between its multiple endings. And you need to be ready for drama, because this story deeps in the idea of love and repulsion.

On the other part, the choices are excessively defined, so you can expect what could happen next.

Nice art and nice music. Although some people can dislike the art because the girls look too young, I think that it can show you that they aren't really mature yet. After all, the are still minors. Vicious minors.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
lawragatajar
( 3.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 1
To put it simply, I found this visual novel uninteresting. If the game wasn’t so short, I’m sure I would have quit early on. As it is, I only tried it since it came with a bundle. I get the impression that I’m supposed to feel for the main character, but I could not get invested in her or the other characters. A big issue is that the tone of the game always felt off. The visuals are beautiful, but the characters look like children when they are supposed to be high school seniors. Even the teacher looks like a child. The setting seems like it is taking place in old timey England, but then we see the characters have cell phones and explicitly state that this is the twenty-first century. Much of the dialogue is rather verbose and repetitive, and there were large tangents that didn’t really contribute to the narrative. It got to the point where I was not interested in seeing what happens and just wanted to get to end. It doesn’t help that the game keeps referencing an incident from the past but doesn’t explain what it was except in one ending. Even then, it doesn’t really explain why that incident causes the heroine’s life to fall apart. Flashbacks would have helped in setting the tone and help garner sympathy for the heroine. Overall, I came in expecting to be depressed but ended up being bored instead.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
gizmo
( 3.0 hrs on record )
Posted: May 29
this is awesome. please make more VN's
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Ribbonquest
( 4.9 hrs on record )
Posted: May 23
The art is lovely but I guess the artist can only draw little girls because even the adult teacher looks like a little girl. Even the well-endowed girl looks, otherwise, like a little girl.

The font choices are terrible and lack a text box background to improve legibility. Between that, the extremely heavy melodrama, and the lack of choices, I didn't even get through the full story a single time.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Sesto
( 4.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 18
One of the best Western VN's I've read. Highly recommended. Georgia is cute.

Be warned: it's a bit flowery and melodramatic, but that should be expected given we're dealing with school girl versions of poets from the Romantic era.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 13
TL;DR - Asphyxia is extremely depressing and realistic. I personally can't recommend it, but by all means buy it if that floats your boat.
---
In order to keep this review from getting too personal, I will not criticise anything here because, whether you like it or not, this game is very realistic, and that is what I'm going to talk about. I personally cannot bring myself to recommend it, but you may decide whether to take what's said here in a positive or negative light.

If I had to choose one word to define Asphyxia, that would be "depressing". Our protagonist, Samantha, suffers from severe depression, doesn't even try to conceal her self-loathing, and frequently mentions toxic habits and suicidal ideas. Her condition has an impact on her close relationships and, to top it off, she is completely obsessed with a former friend who treated her like rubbish. It's almost like she either likes suffering or doesn't care enough to change.

And that is true. The thing with Asphyxia is that it shows the ugly truth of many mental illnesses. It is common for us to lose sight of ourselves and get used to such plaguing mentality, yet desperately cling to whatever shard of hope we may find, even if it hurts us. Ironically, it is also common for us to become self-absorbed and fail to see how we affect others. And it is common for us to indulge in such suffering for whatever unconscious reason. That doesn't mean we don't want to change. We try, but we're stuck in this inertia and getting out of it is so hard, that we end up secretly contenting ourselves with the way things are. We're walking contradictions. In Samantha's case, her behaviour seems like a covert cry for help and the result of extreme need for love and attention. Her "shard of hope" is Lillian, the person she fell in love with, despite being mistreated by her. Samantha is, unfortunately, a very realistic character.

That is why I say that Asphyxia is not an enjoyable game. It is, in fact, very frustrating, because it shows the painful truth. You choose how to face that truth, however. Would you like to understand those issues a little better while keeping yourself detached from these characters, or would the super negative writing only make you annoyed/bored/upset? Would you like to accept that part of you that Samantha represents, or does it only make you angry because she reminds you of yourself; because she doesn't seem to even consider changing anymore, even when you may be living proof that such a thing is possible? That is up to you.

(On the technical side, dialogue can be a little verbose and tiring, and despite all of those proofreaders, I did catch more than just a few typos. Art is very nice, though.)
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
6.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 4
Asphyxia is a game with a lot of potential, but little to offer. Ultimately, I was very disappointed.

The artstyle is absolutely beautiful to me, and it was the first thing that drew me to the game.
It's definitely the biggest pro of playing. The soundtrack wasn't too shabby either.

Unfortunately, the biggest drawback is the story itself. It is pretty weak and largely incomplete,
leaving several seemingly important matters largely left open, unexplored, and unresolved.

((spoilers))
((like the main character's problem with self-harm, the implied past ♥♥♥♥/sexual assault? and her ultimate future))

I don't have a lot to say about the game past that, because there isn't much to say in general.
It's simply a story with a good base but no further development.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
130 of 134 people (97%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 5, 2015
What you should know first:
This is a visual novel with several endings. There is quite heavy subject matter, if you prefer to avoid that, this VN may not be for you. I've divided this review into two parts - gameplay and story/emotional impact of the game.

Thoughts, game-wise:
I feel the execution of this game was done quite well. I've tried 3 or 4 different routes so far (there seem to be more to discover) and the way new content is presented as you make different choices flows quite smoothly, in contrast to some games where extra/different routes may seem a bit clunky. I really enjoyed the writing, clearly a lot of knowledge and research went into this, and it's nice to see an 18th, 19th century British literature influenced writing style. That said, it may be a bit stuffy to read at first and the characters seem very pompous, but that is due to the influences and style the game has. The art is quite gorgeous, and while eerie I think it is perfect for this VN. I felt that my choices do matter, and in trying to please everyone, ended up turning everyone away (one or more of the routes).

Thoughts, story-wise:
You will be put into the head of someone who is depressed, quite literally. You'll follow her thoughts and inner dialogue. For me, I got irritated, but then reconciled in cycles, even if I knew that these thoughts cannot be controlled by the mind you are in. The dialogue hit me hard, because a lot of it was the eerily similar with conversations I would have with a friend, who would in real life, explain her mind like how Samantha does. The dynamics are captured very well, and hit me in a very personal, emotional spot. I've had ups and downs with said person, and the dialogue for both the good parts and bad parts are relatable and it hurt.

Conclusion:
This game is amazing, to me. It made me feel emotions like The Cat Lady has been able to produce in me. It hits home and I relate to it from past experiences. I would try to find all the endings right this instance, if I didn't have exams. And I will - this game, after reading only a couple endings, has constantly been on my mind. [Edit: shortly before exams I found all the endings...] I know this game is not for everyone - if you don't like VNs, if you don't like depression and other heavy themes, please stay away. Subjectively, I highly recommend this game.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
31 of 34 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 5, 2015
Let’s get one thing 100% cleared out of the way:

As the title may suggest, this is a pretty grim game.

Despite the fairly colourful visuals, there are some pretty heavy themes (one of which may or may not be clinical depression) going on, not to mention everyone seems pretty short with each other and prone to casually bringing up suicide and death.

That established, let’s look at this:

This game has a very interesting art style; like a water colour painting with some Lolita influences. Characters are sufficiently expressive, and there are some really beautiful shots and backgrounds to be seen. I don’t think this is going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t think of many other titles that had as distinctive art work.

The game also has quite a unique writing style, though not without faults. Clearly based on the writing that came out of the Romantic Era (or there about), the very formal and ‘proper’ pool of words used is entreatingly varied and vivid. It’s refreshing to read, and has some very effective descriptions. The game sometimes has an issue on delivering exposition, and can sometimes come on a little strong when hammering in a point, but overall, I would rate the writing fairly well.

As for the characters, there’s also some interesting things going on, but there are weaknesses. I thought the fact that every character was named after and KIND OF loosely based on old writers and poets was a nice touch, and fit the style of writing. There is certainly a varied cast, each carrying their own themes and touches, with a solid four romantic interests.* However, there’s a weird issue going on: everyone’s kind of short with each other. This makes sense for a lot of the pairings (Roberta and Georgina, for example, who are polar opposites), however everyone feels pretty quick to say aloud the faults they find in the others. Even when it’s meant in good grace and good fun, this comes up oddly often, and makes one or two characters straddle the line to being unlikeable (even if only unlikable for a single scene). Not sure if that’s got something to do with the writing style or anything, but it’s hardly a deal breaker, just an odd quirk.

Overall, I’d say the game was perfectly fine. It has its faults to be sure, and it was never going to be everyone’s kind of thing, but there’s a lot to like in there.

*Edit: I've been told it may not be straight up romance in all of the routes, or that it might be "heavy subtext" etc. Be warned.
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27 of 32 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
5.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 15, 2015
Both Asphyxia and its predecessor, Dejection: An Ode, are about gender-swapped versions of Romantic poets, and inspired by their real relationships with each other. I absolutely love visual novels with references to classic literature, and while reading Dejection, I was impressed with the writer's ability to imitate the style of that period without making it too dense for modern readers. I felt very empathetic towards both Samantha and Lillian, its only two characters, especially during one well-placed run-on sentence about Samantha's feelings. I couldn't wait to read more, and the next game managed to somehow exceed my already-high expectations.

Asphyxia makes the heroines of Dejection teenagers and sends them on a school trip in a semi-modern setting – there's modern technology, but still a very old-fashioned feel to everything – with several of their colleagues. This expansion of the world of the story doesn't seem to stretch the creator too thinly at all, however, as it is still beautifully written. And while the art in Dejection is very cute, the art in Asphyxia is downright gorgeous. It really fits the setting well, as does the lovely music.

Perhaps most importantly, Asphyxia really made me develop strong feelings for the characters – even more so than I had expected. I loved Samantha, and wished that I could help her overcome her problems, despite the fact that their similarities to my own would probably make that impossible. (mild spoilers:)I couldn't help but love and empathize with Lillian as well, because of how much I related to Samantha, whose feelings for Lillian are so real and believable. And while some of the other characters seemed irritating at first, they all grew on me as more dimensions of their personalities became evident. There were things I liked about them all, and the only thing I didn't like about their story was that it eventually had to end.

I recommend that anyone who's at all remotely interested download and read Dejection, which is both free and quite short, and then buy Asphyxia if they like it. Also, definitely read the notes in the “extras” section once you've played it. Even if you're an English major like me, there are bound to be some interesting details you didn't know that were referenced in the game! It's really a very well-researched project on top of its other great qualities. It's definitely on my list of favourite visual novels I've ever read.
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22 of 25 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 20, 2015
Asphyxia is a difficult visual short story. It's odd to hear games of this genre described as "difficult," since they're barely games at all, but Asphyxia packs an awful lot of terribly trying reading into so small a package. The story is driven almost entirely by its cast, and if the author weren't so adept at creating excellent, if not particularly likable characters, the whole effort would have fallen flat on its face. And that's really the trouble with Asphyxia: You don't like the characters, but that's what makes them good characters. The protagonist is morose, obsessive, and horribly depressing, and the rest of the cast spends much of the story being cruel to one another. The whole thing would have ended up very Dickensian if not for all of the moments where the facades get dropped and it becomes evident that the characters are actually three-dimensional...Well, that and the lack of mutilations through horrible industrial accidents.

I suppose I say all of that in order to say this: Asphyxia is worth your time, even though it's short, and even though it's utterly depressing. I was left with the impression that there was a ton of work packed into so short a story. Ebi-hime's knack for diction and characterization is difficult to come by in any medium, making it evident that they're a strong writer, if one that could benefit from an editor. I spotted quite a few grammatical errors in my playthroughs, and some of the petty squabbles between characters really just went on and on far longer than they needed to, belaboring the point that X and Y don't care for one another. Beautiful music and artwork contribute much to the story, making the characters and setting all the more engrossing. All things considered, Asphyxia isn't just worthwhile, it's really pretty good. It takes the reader through a wide range of emotions in a short period of time, leaving its audience exhausted and frustrated, but still wanting more.
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21 of 26 people (81%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Recommended
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 4, 2015
The women in this game are brutal.

Merciless. Verbal. Assaults.

Pretty funny though (at least until the halfway mark), even if the main character has mental issues.

Further thoughts after reading some more:
This VN has a good sense of humor and knows how to balance out the heavier undertones, I won't spoil but there is some pretty dark stuff here (the title). The art style is unique and pretty, and all the girls have reasonable proportions. If you like VNs you'll probably like this!
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14 of 16 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 18, 2015
For a visual novel about gender-swapped English poets as schoolgirls, the game felt surprisingly personal in the way that it discussed the heavy themes it brought up (suicide, substance abuse, depression, homelessnes, sexual assault, and many others). The characters felt very real in how they interacted with each other, and I often found myself thinking, "I've had these thoughts before," in response to the main character's bleak musings. Even in its gloominess, the writing still had many clever little lines that made me laugh. The few times modern world contraptions like phones and the internet are brought up in the narrative, it felt weird and out of place, but not enough to take you out of the game.

The art fits the implied aesthetics of the writing and is generally polished with the exception of some of the characters' awkward poses. The one thing that could use definitely some work is the UI; it got a bit hard to read the text when the backgrounds turned light.

Took about 5 hours to get all four routes, and funny enough, it made me want to sit down afterwards and learn about the Lake Poets. So, there's that video game edutainment angle for you, I guess.

Overall it's a great experience that's well worth the low price.
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21 of 29 people (72%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2015
First of all... Art is truly beautiful, so if you're looking for nice backgrounds/emoticons/cards, that would be a good choice. I love visual novels and it really breaks my heart whenever I must write a negative review, especially for a game that I truly wanted to play. "Asphyxia" seemed like a game I would enjoy. I was immediately intrigued by description and whole concept, but... The story is not really that interesting. Actually, it's kind of annoying. I know who was the inspiration for main characters, so I fully understand "poetic" narrative. The problem is, none of the characters were interesting to me. I kind of like Roberta, but that would be it. Protagonist is so annoying that I think it's almost impossible to feel connection with her. I gave this game two chances - first right after I bought it. I couldn't force myself to play to the end, it was too boring and I wasn't invested into the story at all. But I really didn't wanted to give it a bad review. So I decided to give it some time and play it again. I did that. Same result.

Still, game is rather cheap (especially during sales) so I think fans of visual novels should give it a try.
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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
This is a very melancholic, yet beautiful visual novel. Are you looking for something happy and lightedhearted? This might not be your cup of tea then. Contrary to it's cute graphics, this novel adresses some depressing themes. It has interesting, well fleshed out characters with diverse personalities. Every character has something most of us can relate to one way or the other.
It's loosely based around various Britisch romantic poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth, worth looking into once you have finished the paths.
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