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Author: David Whyld
Score: 4 Otters
Reviewed by Baryon
Which starts with the end of the story. But where Primrose succeeds is where Requiem does not, because you can create paradoxes in this game. Well, I say paradoxes, but they can of course be resolved with a 'many worlds' outlook. You start the game with a vision of the future. Then your interaction begins a week before this event, and you can branch the future into a myriad of different parallel universes, in which different things happen. Some of them will lead to the original future and most of them will not. I have to say, though, that the self-contained nature of the time travel in Primrose and Möbius was much more satisfying.
Requiem is effectively a 'choose your own adventure' short story, and in that, it succeeds. I must admit it's not the sort of story I'd usually read. In that sense, I didn't 'like' it; I thought there were too many clichés of the genre, but I can accept that people with different tastes will enjoy it. The trouble with a CYOA story with the density of interactivity that the IF medium provides is that there was a point in the game where you were literally waiting around aimlessly for the plot to advance on its own.
Reviewed by Stephen Bond
This game is carelessly written. The author might have a germ of talent, somewhere, but he needs to work on it, to put in the time; this has all the appearances of being composed in a hurry. Look at the lazy, unfunny repetition in the first room description:
My office: small, squalid, depressing. [...] Nothing that might alleviate the general feeling of small/squalid/depressing that hangs over it. [...] Yes, small and squalid and depressing certainly describe this place to a tee.Not only does the description run out of ideas after sentence one, it also has the gall to compliment its own descriptive skills. The author often has definite impressions about what he wants to say, but doesn't take the effort to organise them into flowing prose. A lot of the sentences look like quick, temporary placeholders for something better:
The staff are smiling and friendly and there is a general feeling of relaxation hanging over everything.might as well have been left as
staff -- smiling, friendly, etc. something general feeling of relaxation something.At the same time, his impressions don't go too deep; room descriptions tend to be waffly and avoid detail, which sometimes leads to such unwitting bathos as
The smell of meat hangs in the air, indicating this place was once used to store food of some kind.Food... such as meat, perhaps? At other times, the author simply can't be bothered putting in any work at all, as in the following speech option:
2) Make something up.Uh... care to tell us what it is? Or can't you make anything up? But maybe I'm asking for too much; since the author doesn't even seem sure of the name of his PC (Standler or Chandler?) he probably has enough on his plate.
I make up a lie on the spur of the moment.
If there's a ring of "will this do?" about the prose, there's an even greater ring of "will this do?" about the story, which has an improvised feel, and not in a good way. The plot is nonsensical, with almost nothing resolved in any of the endings. For a while it looks as though the game will count back the seven days to the first scene, but the counting stops at day four; I'm not sure how any of the endings, or even the existence of multiple endings, is compatible with the first scene.
Perhaps worst of all, Requiem doesn't work as an IF game. It starts out as one of those barely interactive stories where typing >N takes you up eight flights of stairs, spits three screens of text at you and dumps you in a hospital bed with the time advanced by 24 hours. Then about half-way through, Requiem turns into one of those games with timed events where you have to guess the verb to advance to the next cutscene, or start all over again. Either way, I feel like I have no input into what is going on.
Reviewed by Nick Bronson
Plot: 6/10 - Hard to understand at times, however if you pay enough attention, all the connecting threads are there. Your place in the story/world varies depending on the decisions you make. True multi-threaded story. Main complaint is that it opens at a scene that not each game makes it to.
Atmosphere: 8/10 - The writing managed to evoke hard-boiled noir with a lashing of cthulic creepiness.
Writing: 7/10 - Well written, few mistakes.
Game play: 6/10 - Standard Adrift Parser gameplay.
Characters: 6/10 - Characters were more than 2-dimensional, but fall a bit short of full realised.
Puzzles: n/a - Claims to be puzzleless, although several important moments in the game are almost guess-the-verb puzzles.
Overall: 6/10 - A good game and a worthy addition to the genre.
I’ve always had a soft spot for noir - hard bitten detectives and troublesome, though beautiful, dames. That said, its a genre with a well-earned reputation for pulp and cliche’s, and more than one author has stumbled into the genre and managed to offend anyone who’s even pretended to like noir in the past. Thankfully, this is not one of those.
The story is the focus of this particular game, as it tries to be a puzzleless IF. I have to say I applaud his efforts in this direction - as one of the many puzzle-challenged IF afficiando’s I quite appreciate not having to worry about forgetting to pick up an object at the start of the game that i’ll need for the endgame. I played that way anyway, out of habit, but its nice to know that it wasn’t necessary.
Its also good to see we’re finally making advances with multi-threaded stories. Often a “multiple-endings” story, is just that. A story where the ending is a result of something you do during the game (such as score.) For many games this is merely cosmetic, another way to tell you your score. In Requiem, several decisions change not only the story’s end, but your place in it. This might be as simple as your job - the events that took place still took place, but who you were in them changed - but it was well executed. A true “multiple ending” story, though i’m not sure if I would count a lot of the lesser ending. “And everything stopped.” whilst clever, given the plot, isn’t a satisfying ending.
The main problem I found with the plot lies in the first scene. The story opened with the main character in trouble. This is a common literary device and can be quite effective. However, depending on how you act in the game, you might never get to that point. This is important as its a scene thats happened, you showed it to us already, and by having a character die or fail to reach that point it’s a breach of causality. You’re telling a story from the point you started (it even refers to that point by referring to time as “Seven days earlier”), so the character should, from a good plot sense, always reach that point.
I also found the characterisation a little flat, particularly the female lead. We’re told quite often that the main character thinks she’s insane, and even shown her diary which would seem to confirm the fact, but she never actually feels insane. The antagonist does, but even so he never feels as frightening as he should.
Overall its a good game, well worth a go. Not a lot of games get me to play through multiple times but I did with this, to try and get the optimal ending. The plot was nicely convuluted and, as I said before, I like how it splits into seperate threads.
Reviewed by Matt Carey
Blurb: "She told me she needed my help. She told me someone was after her and that he would kill her. She told me where to find him, told me what needed doing... and left the choice in my hands. What I didn't know was that there was a lot more to the story..."
A lot of repetition and wordiness: “Something seems wrong the moment I enter the apartment. It takes me but a moment to put my finger on it: it’s been trashed.” This protagonist feels compelled to explain what he’s thinking in great detail, several times. For some reason his detective agency has a staff, his house is implausibly big, and he doesn’t seem to know if he bought it when he was thinking about starting a family or when he “hit bottom”. The author says he doesn’t like puzzles, which must be why this game mostly boils down to walking into places, getting attacked and knocked out, and agreeing with things NPCs say. The walkthrough says that there’s an alternate path if you try to kill the bad guy the first time you meet him, but I reached the scene that you flash back from in the beginning, so I considered my responsibility fulfilled. 3
Reviewed by James Hall
Another supernatural thriller from David Whyld, rather similar to his last comp entry, Mortality, and deals with similar themes, although I wouldn't have said it was as good. The game itself is certainly one of the better and more entertaining comp entries and the characters and object descriptions are well implemented and above all, believable. But having said that, it's far from perfect; the prose was functional, but sometimes a little too informal for my taste and there are one or two missing object aliases. A rather serious problem with the conversations arose later in the game, where using the wrong alias for the character you're speaking to (his first name, rather than his surname) results in you being ignored and unable to progress. But the
worse offence by far was the inclusion of Kurusu City-style stuck-in-a-room death sequences where you're killed after being unable to do anything for several turns. Most irritating.
Reviewed by N. B. Horvath
I played through this game a few times, for about an hour, and got several different endings, all unhappy ones. Then I looked at the walkthrough and saw that there were several steps I missed en route to a happy ending. But by that point I had stopped caring enough about the story or characters to check it out. It didn’t help that I had obsessively picked through conversation menu options, using UNDO, looking for responses that would send the game in a novel direction. That was my fault I guess, but still. Score 5.
Reviewed by Joshua Houk
The setting brings to mind a 50's detective novel from start to finish. Except when you find a microwave oven in your kitchen.
Reviewed by JDC
Interesting story. Sort of CYOA-ish. Missed the "good" ending without the walkthrough. Had a quibble with the multiple endings not seeming
mutually coherent (and not all agreeing with the flashback beginning).
Reviewed by Jimmy Maher
David Whyld's IF work really frustrates me. I am always interested by his games. His characters and plots are always entertaining, and his games often offer a surprisingly level of player agency in his stories' outcomes. Yet his work if always rife with rough edges and little errors, giving it an unfinished, amateurish quality. Some of that is undoubtedly down to ADRIFT, a system I am not terribly impressed with as a player, but much is perfectly, even easily, correctable. I think that Mr. Whyld's mind bogglingly prolificness is actually his main problem. He seemingly never met a contest that wasn't worth entering. The result each year is multiple interesting but flawed also-rans, rather than the one polished, stellar effort I know he has in him.
Requiem is fairly typical of Whyld's work in these respects. The story here involves a down on his luck PI who has been hired by a gorgeous femme fatale to investigate her murder. Yes, you read that right. It seems that she has (or believes she has) been given a second chance by the supernatural powers that be, who have reincarnated her and sent her back in time to one year before her death to prevent said unfortunate event. The hardboiled private detective with gorgeous but dangerous client trope is of course hardly a new one, but Whyld plays it pretty well here with writing that is as enthusiastic as it is unoriginal. Call it a tribute, and take it for what it is.
Structurally, this one does some very interesting things. There are apparently quite a number of possible endings. I experienced only a couple of these during my time with the game, and in fact never made it more than halfway through the full seven days of plot, but I saw enough to get the gist of things, although I do wish Mr. Whyld had included a walkthrough so I could have seen a bit more. On the meta-level, though, the game works quite well, and even shows evidence of considerable authorial care in working out this web of possible endings. It's always nice as a player to feel like my actions are genuinely affecting the plot, that I am more than a rat in a cage performing to trigger the next linear plot point. This is one I want to return to after the Comp to really explore the possibilities on offer, although I would be more enthusiastic about doing so if Mr. Whyld would clean up the issues I am about to describe (hint, hint).
The problems here start at the level of nitty-gritty details, in the writing and in some silly technical flaws. Foremost among the latter is the game's habit of dumping the string "CLS1" into its output occasionally. Apparently this is supposed to cause the ADRIFT interpreter to clear the screen, but, at least on the ADRIFT Runner 4.0 Release 36 I have installed on my machine, it does no such thing.
The writing is not dire by any means, but I was constantly noticing little slip-ups and logic errors, the sorts of things that sneak into fiction when no one, including the author, has bothered to read through the work carefully and really think about it. I'll throw out a few examples. Consider this paragraph that appears when I enter the murderer-to-be's last know address in search of clues:
Something seems wrong the moment I enter the apartment. It takes me but a moment to put my finger on it: it's been trashed. There are books and papers scattered on the floor, the bed has been slashed, the bedside cabinet opened and its contents thrown all over the place, the window has been smashed, graffiti has been scrawled on the walls.
Something "seems" wrong, and it "takes me but a moment to put my finger on it?" What a bright spark I am. Um, the place is trashed! Wouldn't it be pretty obvious what is wrong as soon as I walk through the door?
Shortly after, I get knocked on the head by an unknown assailant and wake up in the hospital. The police officer at my bedside tells me this:
"I'd lie still if I were you, Mr Standler," says a voice. It belongs to a uniformed cop sitting at the side of my bed. "You took quite a nasty knock there. Could well have suffered a concussion."
I'm in a freaking hospital! Wouldn't they know if I had suffered a concussion?
The writing also jumps constantly from present to past tense and back, within paragraphs and sometimes even within sentences. And the beginning of the game clashes with the end. I die at the very beginning, and am told that the rest of the game is the backstory leading up to that event. Yet that game, as mentioned previously, has many different possible endings, some good and some bad, of which the scene described at the beginning is only one. So what is it doing there?
Things like this drive me nuts because they are so darn correctable, and because I have seen them over and over in Whyld's games, preventing me from giving really good scores to works I would otherwise have been very impressed by. So, my advice for Mr. Whyld is to slow down, and throw yourself into just one game. Think about it, polish it, beta test it, and really get it right. Until you do, you will continue to suffer the same fate: average scores leading to middle of the pack rankings in contests. You have the conceptual talent and the writing chops to do much better than that, my friend, and I hope you will someday take the time to give us the really first-rate work I know you have in you.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Reviewed by Michael Martin
This is a lot like Mortality, the last Comp entry by Whyld; it's widely branching, but there's not a whole lot of motivation to explore the plot shifts. Unlike Mortality, the choices are a lot more sensible -- you generally can see why you'd want to do the things you do.
The actual final story -- particularly the optimal ending -- didn't really hold together for me, though.
David Whyld — another veteran. Last year’s Mortality was a sci-fi story with a branched plotline. According to the “about” blurb, this one is a noir told in flashbacks. Sounds like Spider and Web meets The Witness.
Ah, yes. Good ol’ Scare and the inability to map character sets properly. Cugel might do better…
I don’t like the way the screen clears every time I type look. Cut-scenes, yes; actions, no. Turning off the screen clearing option.
All that’s inside my desk are a few old files, a notepad, a pen, a newspaper and some smokes. None of which I need right now.
That’s not something I can read.
That’s not something I can read.
I can’t close the desk.
Ah, yes. We fall back into familiar territory: the mystery cum supernatural thriller. Not far from last year’s submission after all.
Normally I’d bitch about writing in the first person, but I can’t see any way these descriptions or the internal narrative could be brought off otherwise.
Microwave? Damn, and I was hoping for a period piece: ratstabbers, pin-stripes, and fedoras.
Damn you, Adrift. If I misspell a word, tell me!
And when the game switches from command-mode to interaction-mode, a change of prompt would be welcome (may I suggest Inform’s ever-classic “>>”?).
Yet again, I find the most boring, prosaic ending possible, because I’m a boring person. Restart.
Ah, finally: the supernatural plotline. Not as predictable as Mortality, but definitely cut from the same cloth.
This is one style of interactive fiction I dislike intellectually: the conversation maze. (The other annoying genres I despise on a more visceral level.) The authors of these tales take a simple (if Byzantine) storyline, then decorate it with very short side branches and call it “interactive.” The movement, the “puzzles” (if you can call them that) all feel forced, extruded through a tiny hole of narrative. One wrong step off the trail and all is lost; and somehow the author makes you feel bad for not following his script. Not fun at all.
Reviewed by Ralph Merridew
I enjoyed the first few playthroughs; while I don't generally care for stories that blend the supernatural with the everyday, it didn't bother me here. The writing style was fine, and I found its being CYOA after a long comp was refreshing.
OTOH, trying to find the "winning" ending was less enjoyable; the game had many parts that had to be played through each game (the package scene particularly irritated me for some reason), and the actions which caused true plot change didn't stand out much. (The supernatural aspects hurt the linkage between cause and effect.)
While I found some bugs (attempts to limit interaction occasionally blocked "undo"; I once ran through the streets naked and holding a baseball bat; the dream sequence gave a response that belonged in the tapestry scene), I didn't mind them for some reason.
In short, not a bad game to wrap up the competition.
Reviewed by Miseri
That was freaky. Basically CYOA in the end ... but captivating. I only wish there was more indication of what the Absolute Truth of the story was: there seemed to be a certain lack of internal coherence.
Reviewed by James Mitchelhill
Requiem - 7
Hmmm. Bit railroady, but there's a few choice points.
General comments: Huh? Was that all I wrote? I quite liked this one, enough to play it to conclusion, but I did have to resort to the walkthrough for substantial portions... I found a number of unsatisfactory endings fairly quickly, but doubt I would have found the real ending without help. Otherwise, competently put together, and an interesting hook, although surely there's a paradox in here if you get the optimum ending.
Reviewed by Niz
Elmore Leonard-style gumshoe fiction with an odd supernatural twist. Subverts expectations with the PC's death very early on. The story carries the game, although the constant punctuation problems (e.g. apostrophes appearing at odd places) let it down. The level of "interactivity" is pretty low, essentially compass directions and TALK TO are all that is required, but the tale is nonetheless a good, entertaining one with plenty of twists and turns, a low-brow "page-turner" that will keep you hooked to the end. Multiple endings/death sequences, although the one I managed wrapped up neatly with the opening, it was possibly not the optimal one, as I was still left with no real explanation of the vague "powers" that set everything in motion.
Reviewed by Rifflesby
Ooh, supernatural noir. Here's a genre I can sink my teeth into.
Nitpick: 'washing machine', to me, means clothes. In a kitchen I'd expect to find a 'dishwasher'.
"The usual folk who tend to hang around bars in the middle of the day. I should ignore them." Oh, go on, that strikes me as needlessly railroady. Let me talk to them, even if they don't say anything useful.
On day 4 (I think it was day 4... after talking to the cop in the hospital) I got a little 'cls1' message before the description of my office. Also, the room description says "Sophia Montague stands by the door.", but she arrives with Ben in the following paragraph.
"I am carrying nothing." Previously though, I was wearing my clothes! I'm naked in a bar!
"I can't kill myself. Only Martin can." She pulls the sleeve backdown. "And is doing." (Awkward phrasing.)
Got an ending I can't really UNDO from (captured by Martin in the motel manager's office). Checked walkthru to see if there's a significantly different path I could have taken. There is, so I restart.
"Eventually I got away from me. I don't know how many times it took- five, six, a dozen." Should be "got away from him".
Continuity error: After searching the streets for Martin and Sophia: "I have a fraction of a second to wonder how he got inside and then locked the door behind him when I have the only key" The lock on the apartment door is broken, I only closed it as I was leaving.
"He looks back to me. "It's all over for, Chris. You were led to this." Awkward. Suggest either "It's all over for you, Chris." or "It's all over, Chris."
Martin in the bank: "A life given willingly to someone else can live."Should be " so someone else can live", I assume.
The good ending is inexplicable, but weirdly cool. On purpose, I expect? :)
Summary: Well-written. Caught the tone and mood well.
Good pacing.Interesting plot. With few exceptions, though, I didn't do much
other than walk around and talk to people, and I prefer something with more
interaction to a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. It was a good CYOA, though.
I think this game shows that Whyld can come up with perfectly good plots — even after finishing it I'm not really sure what the hell was going on, but hey, I wasn't sure in Blue Chairs or Chancellor either. The implementation is solid enough. The writing is fine; I think Whyld's overdoing the noir in places but it's acceptable for the kind of story he wants to tell (except for the point of view — he needs to settle on either first or second, even if it is a series of flashbacks).
So what's the problem? I think it's lack of player agency. You can't accuse the game of being railroaded: the player has lots of opportunities to branch the story. But nevertheless, there's very little player agency because the player doesn't have any idea what's going on! In most games this wouldn't be a big deal. Typically player agency comes through their ability to interact with and affect the game world by manipulating objects, moving around, and solving puzzles. The game will have a story but it's not the player's responsibility to affect it directly; all interaction is indirect via object manipulation, and if the player doesn't know exactly what story change will occur, it's no big deal, because they're focused on the objects. Requiem strips out all the puzzle solving and looking and exploring (not totally, but exploration is totally unimportant), with the intent of giving the story primacy. That's great in theory, but it's problematic when the player doesn't have any idea how or why to manipulate the story, and they end up doing the narrative equivalent of wandering around lost in a maze.
I think the problem is that the storylines Whyld is
coming up with lately aren't suitable for the player experience he wants to
have: they're all about cryptic mystery and the storyline gradually unfolding
around a hapless protagonist. In other words, exactly the sort of storyline that
should be implemented as a straight-ahead railroad. The kind of story that fits
the kind of game design Whyld's written here is one where the protagonist is
competent and informed — the player can make choices and know something
about what they're getting into with each one. Of course, if he does this, I'll
probably have some other gripe. But it's still worth a shot.
Reviewed by Jerome
Requiem 2 (24%)
This is my first ever ADRIFT game, and so the first order of business is a visit to the options screen, to adjust the vomit-inducing default colours and giant font. First impressions of the game itself: the lack of interactivity in the office at the start, and the multiple choice conversation menus make it feel rather on-rails, more like a CYOA than a work of IF. The PC interjecting his thoughts in between my vital activities in the apartment seemed rather odd (I need to examine the damn washing machine, it might be important!), and when I was unceremoniously yanked out of the house and into day six, I pretty much resigned myself to having no real influence over the progression of the story. On the plus side, the story had developed from a standard world-weary detective trope into something a little more interesting, so I sat back to see what else might unfold. Sadly I hit a brick wall on day four when, having finished with the package that arrived at my office, I attempted to leave but was informed I could not do so until I had finished with the package. Once again, the built-in walkthrough eluded me (is there some kind of standard command for this sort of thing that I'm unaware of?) I backtracked, and found a route through the game that avoids the package entirely, but I only succeeded in finding a succession of bad endings, and I eventually lost the will to go back in search of the good one(s). Overall, the blend of IF and CYOA really didn't appeal to me personally, but maybe it will hold more appeal for others. The writing is competent, and the story may well capture the imagination of fans of the horror genre.
Reviewed by David Fletcher
Why does it leave "[MORE]" prompts on the screen once I've pressed a key? Very ugly.
It's in the present tense, mostly, but I found one or two bits of nasty switching between tenses: "If there was a more desirable woman alive today, I've yet to meet her."
Like the way I'm getting some backstory a bit at a time after every move. Works quite well. (Sadly this was only at times, and there were lots of long cutscenes too.)
Another toilet I can't sit on.
It looks like "ask
You can't "show" or "tell" either.
The game is mostly puzzleless but has a lot of plot branches, one of which is the best. For a lot of the time you just have to "talk to" whoever happens to be present.
When you have choices that lead to different endings, sometimes it's clunkily obvious: "I find myself presented with a number of directions: east to where Sophia wishes to meet me, any other direction will take me away from her."
And sometimes the branch is hard to find except by being lucky, such as when you only get onto a different branch if you wander the streets in the right (fairly obliquely clued) directions.
A lot of the time you get conversation menus with one option. Not after using up the other options, but the first time seeing the menu. At first I thought it might be that there would have been other options available in other circumstances, but I don't think that was actually the case.
And, you aren't allowed to say nothing or do something else, you've just got to type "1" to choose that option. This is silly, you might as well just have a "more" prompt.
Ending: I don't really get why everything happened, despite using the walkthrough to see endings.
I don't know, maybe it was all explained somewhere and I wasn't reading the endings carefully enough.
Could almost have been a CYOA. Good attempt at a story, but the characters were pretty dull. Without a walkthrough, I doubt I would have ever bothered getting to the point where things start to be explained. However, I did _want_ to know what was happening, which is good. No spelling mistakes noticed. 5 points.
Reviewed by QF
When I first started this game, I happened to be curious about what the author put in the ABOUT command, and ... whoa! So much text telling the author's life story. This had better be good.
Turns out to be pretty good. Good room descriptions,
witty characterizations, if a bit stereotypical of the genre (detective meets
femme fatale). You quickly find out that this is a choose-your-fate story. Not
exactly my style, but in this case it worked OK. The story starts out seeming a
bit too much like a rehash of the woman-hires-detective story, but later on
turns into something very surreal. Unfortunately, I never found an ending that
satisfactorily resolves all the questions raised. (From another review, it seems
that I've completely missed the ending that most fully resolves the story.
That's a risk you play when you write a game of this sort.)
The CHEAT command would be much less annoying if it didn't spew the entire walkthrough at you every single time...
There were some strange problems with quote marks, ellipses, and other punctuation... Beware the Microsoft-only quotes. Unicode is your friend.
OVERALL: 6. Story is weird but hooks you. Plot is on-tracks except for a few major branches. Not bad, but not outstanding either. A bit too surreal. Relies too much on the overused detective-meets-femme-fatale cliche. (This was written before I read said review.)
Writing: 7 Not bad, but
not breathtaking either.
Setting: 6 The setting could've been developed more. A bit too surreal.
Story: 6.5 Overuses detective-meets-femme-fatale cliche.
Puzzles: 5 The kitchen puzzle is a bit guess-the-verb. The final puzzle essentially requires replay to figure out.
Technical: 7 No major glitches, but has formatting problems.
Brownie: 0 The Brownies decline to comment on this one.
Reviewed by Valentine
The game'd be more honest if it manifested itself a CYOA from the very start - it artificially restricts the majority of your actions most of the time, anyway. In many respects, seemed like a degenerated version of Mortality, the IF-Comp entry by the same author from the previous year.
David Whyld seems to be one of the most creative IF-authors there is. I don't think I judged in a competition to which he hadn't submitted a game. And I always like the way he writes. This time, It's a hard-boiled detective story with supernatural elements. It is cleverly constructed and has a great story, is well written and catched me right from the start. It plays more like a CYOA rather than a traditional text adventure - there are no puzzles and there is nothing to explore. That's nothing bad, but it also is not what I prefer.
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