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Level: 20x20x20 Challenge - The Crystal of Power back home search
Author(s): Klona
total rating:8.00 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 8 8 9 10
Bogey 7 8 8 8
Ceamonks890 8 9 8 9
Christian 8 7 8 7
DJ Full 7 8 5 8
dmdibl 7 8 8 8
Drakan 9 9 8 9
eRIC 8 8 8 7
Gerty 6 8 7 7
Jay 8 9 9 9
Jorge22 7 7 8 7
Jose 5 7 6 8
manarch2 7 7 7 7
MichaelP 8 8 8 8
Mman 8 9 9 9
Mytly 6 6 7 8
Nina Croft 9 9 8 8
Nomad 9 9 8 9
Orbit Dream 8 8 10 10
Phil 10 9 9 8
Ryan 8 8 8 9
Soul 8 9 9 8
Taras 8 9 8 9
TheStig 7 8 8 8
category averages
(24 reviews)
7.67 8.13 7.96 8.25

Reviewer's comments

"Quite a fun level, and equally challenging - this is one of those levels that you probably will need the walkthrough. Though it is not one of those extremely obscure levels and all the puzzles have subtle hints, damn some are hard to spot. The spike puzzle is one of them, I thought that I should jump on the spikes in an order (since there were no camera hints I had no idea if I was accomplishing anything too making me frantically move around the map) but they were put there to clue you in which tiles were safe to step on. Fair but tough. The complex boss fight was a nice finishing touch in the adventure, and it contains one of those rare occasions where Lara finally makes use of the mystical powers of the artifacts. If you haven't played Chronicles you will struggle at fighting the dragons though so maybe some clue was needed there. In the visual side, lots of lighting work makes the adventure more realistic, you can see the rooms with fire have yellowish tints and the rooms with outside access are brighter and so on. There were some negative points in the level, I found there was more backtracking than should be and too many push puzzles may start getting boring. Recommended and true to the tomb raider spirit." - Nomad (05-Aug-2017)

"In this 47 minute level, Lara scales a dizzyingly tall tower structure and visits various offshoot rooms containing different challenges. These were fun to solve in their own right, the lack of camera clues for certain switches was rather annoying. Also, the hydra battle was a nice idea, but was rather annoying and tedious to go through, even with the tip from the walkthrough. The level itself looks rather nice and the crystals being the only source of light apart from the odd torch made it seem rather authentic. Have the walkthrough to hand and you should enjoy yourself, although the backtracking may still be slightly annoying." - Ryan (20-Nov-2016)

"If you consider the levels seen previously from Klona, this really is a massive leap forward. Visually it’s great (all be it as the author warns on the dark side). Texturing and room structure are great and it feels like a very polished and well thought-out chamber. Unfortunately however there’s one or two gameplay design decisions which do spoil things slightly. With the 20x20x20 challenge a bit of backtracking it to be expected, so I didn't mind that, however there were a few awkward bits I had to repeat a couple of times (the fire tile room being the main irritation). Thankfully most of the puzzles were well laid out with subtle visual clues. Also some of the swing poles seem to be completely superfluous? The worst bit for me was the hydra battle at the top of the tower. It took me 2 evenings of monotonous shooting to get through this. I can understand what the author wanted to achieve but really after 10 minutes of continuous shooting & diving back to the ‘safe health’ tile I was ready for something else. All in all I netted just over 1 hour 50 minutes from the Crystal of Power. Definitely a huge step forward for Klona and for the most part an enjoyable raid. Stiggy" - TheStig (15-Mar-2015)

"This adventure has a lot going for it and is so much more advanced than the author's previous (demo) efforts. With a little advice from beta testers it could even have been better than it is, as it features a few design choices that weaken its overall impact on players. The whole tower concept is great, well designed and fun to navifate up and down and around in. But did it have to be so many times up and down? And if it were not for the walkthrough which I kept close by, I wouuld have been highly frustrated by not knowing what most of the switches did somewhere up and down and around that tower. Because there are very few camera hints and when you get one it is typically for the obvious thing happening nearby. I also have a bit mixed feelings about the epic boss battle with the four hydras. Credit to the author for coming up with something new and original and for offering the healing crystal to at least avoid the (additional) frustration of having to conserve health. But if a player does not have the patience or is not smart enough about how to kill those hydras (2-3 shotgun shots from up close when they breathe fire), then this becomes a massive and lenghty exercise in constant shooting and side flipping. Also, the author relies maybe a bit too heavily on very subtle texture hints, which many will simply ignore and hence solve the situations with a lot of trial and error. Those gripes out of the way, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the overall construction, setting, lighting and athmosphere. There is a nice mix of spike and boulder traps, not too hard timed runs and jumps, two secrets (that you really should get for the boss battle) and for me it ended after about an hour of net gaming time. Recommended, but only with the walkthrough near you." - MichaelP (05-Jan-2013)

"Too dark for my taste so at the start using up all flares to see, starting all over to persevere the flares is not my way of having fun. Klona used cleverly the whole map twice, to prolong gameplay, I think. More the pity, as that only brought up irritation at my end. There could have been a tad more cameras to show you what did what which brought on even more irritation, as you had to go up or down again to see what happened. Also be aware that finding the shotgun is almost a must. Don’t get me wrong the whole level looks great, ideas were clever (too clever perhaps)." - Gerty (19-Dec-2012)

"The first level of the 20x20x20 competition that I played starts fantastically with that music, congratulations for the choice, too bad it only played at the start. But the atmosphere of the level is still very good. Lots of decorative elements, objects. Fine texturing, wonderful lighting. The brightness of the level is also perfectly balanced, not too dark, just enough to be mysterious and atmospheric. I very much liked that the builder doesn't hold our hands, we need to find ourselves what a switch or others thing opened, the absence of helping cameras was refreshing. The level is quite short as expected, but the builder did a good job filling the available space with content and gameplay. Recommended." - Akcy (27-Nov-2012)

"Possibly the longest 20^3 so far, unfortunately due to extensive backtracking and lack of cameras. On the other hand it's really atmospheric, so the above flaws don't hurt so much if a walkthru is nearby. On the contrary with some players, I liked the "remember the slot" addon, giving that "aha!" feeling each time I relocated a receptacle. The place isn't abandoned - finally, instead of being artificially endurable, dogs are more fragile than classic ones. Only two secrets, but extremely useful in easing the final fight. And I would like some epic music, because it wasn't all silent only in most crucial moments." - DJ Full (31-Oct-2012)

"The main room in this level is a classic St. Francis Folly type tower, though here you start from the bottom instead of the top. Progression to the top is a mixture of enjoyable platforming and extremely obscure puzzles, such as the four tiles with spikes puzzle, which I would never have figured out without a look at the stuck thread. The complete lack of camera clues also adds to the frustration. The boss fight with four hydras is definite overkill, made all the more difficult if you don’t find the shotgun or uzis (I didn’t find the latter). Nina Croft’s walkthrough was very useful for the strategies she provided, which made killing the hydras relatively less frustrating than it could be. Once you kill the hydras, you have to revisit each and every spot you visited earlier in the level – in other words, it’s completely pointless padding. Overall, you need to climb up and down the tower at least twice, and possibly one or two times more if you go after the secrets. You also need to do annoying tasks like navigating the deadly floor room twice, or four times if you count the return journeys as well (note to builder: if you build a room where certain tiles are deadly and pixel-perfect jumps are required, make sure that the edges between the tiles are clearly marked). If only the builder had not tacked on the extra journeys to place the gargoyle brains – i.e. if defeating the hydras gave you the exit keys – this level would have been much more enjoyable. There are some really clever ideas, like the tile that replenishes Lara’s health and even puts out the flames if she is on fire during the boss fight. Another nice idea is the rollingball that helpfully kills a wolf for you.
Lookswise, the level is quite pretty. The main tower is unnaturally dark, given that it is open to the sky at the top, as are some of the side rooms. But some of the other side rooms are well lit and quite pretty. The texturing is a little sloppy in places, but nothing that detracts from the looks. I like the purple crystals on the walls, the foliage growing everywhere, and the ruined state of the tower.
Overall: I am torn between admiration for the builder’s ingenuity, and severe frustration at the enormous amount of backtracking and the interminable boss fight." - Mytly (07-Oct-2012)

"In this raid, we have Lara entering a Greece-themed tomb, going through some pretty challenging rooms filled with traps and a couple of dogs, giving off a feeling to the level, which is reminiscent of St. Francis Folly from TR Anniversary. The main objective here is to get through the many perils in your way alive, in order to face 4 dragons, or recoloured hydras from TR5, which have become quite popular enemies for custom level builders to use in their levels recently, which leave behind 'Mechanical Gargoyle Brains' needed for placement in various receptacles throughout the level, and all contribute towards Lara retrieving a mysterious pink crystal for whatever reason. Now, on to the main part of the review. Upon loading up the game, we are greeted with a title screen which feels like an homage to TR1, with the corresponding main theme of that game playing in the background(which was quite a nice touch). Starting a new game, we are given a flyby showing off the scope of the level and making us aware that this won't be such an easy walk in the park. The lighting and texturing used here is done quite well, with objects and music used very appropriately, giving off a very convincing atmosphere as a result. I managed to find the 2 secrets in this level(neither of which required much skill to get, but I didn't mind that at all.) The sounds given off during gameplay are mostly typical TR4 sounds, with the only changed sounds being for some of Lara's grunts(when jumping or pulling herself up from a ledge, to sound more like how she was portrayed in AoD.) Adding a custom death animation for Lara, whenever she gets impaled on spikes or falls from somewhere high, or a healing point for the boss fight to regenerate your health and oxygen supply, were other little touches that I quite liked. However, not everything is perfect. With a huge lack of cameras to tell you what was triggered through pulling a switch, I had to consult a walkthrough numerous times in order to find out what I had just activated, which can cause players to get lost or confused as a result. There were also some unnecessarily-frustrating points in the level(such as the room with the burners or the aforementioned 'dragons' boss fight.) Lining up for certain jumps in the burner room can be difficult, as it isn't too easy to tell what's safe to walk on and what isn't, the only hint given through brighter textures on the roof of the room, which correspond with all the floor textures. The dragons boss fight is another point of unnecessary frustration to players, with their projectiles instantly setting Lara on fire and therefore a much easier target to defeat, forcing you to retreat back and forth between the healing point constantly, before returning to shooting some more lead at the dragons. An easy way to resolve this, is to save your shotgun ammo for this fight, as it will make the fight much easier and less of a hassle. Overall, this is a great improvement from Klona's previous releases, and I can't wait for more level releases from him. If you're a fan of Greece levels or are looking for a challenging level to play, this is one level that raiders of all skill levels should check out." - Ceamonks890 (30-Sep-2012)

"I waited until Nina Croft's masterful walkthrough became available before playing this level, and that was a wise decision. With her guidance, a level that could easily have taken hours to figure out was conquered in about 85 minutes. Since this release is part of a mini-contest, and because the 15-minute vignette was clearly not in a league with the other two levels (although I felt that the former level was fun to play in its own right), it came down to a decision between Klona and The Tiger. Although you'll discern that my scores for the two levels are identical numerically (although not by category), on balance I have to say that The Crystal of Power is the superior level. Gameplay-wise, I don't think there's a basis for comparison. Klona gives you roughly twice the playing time as does The Tiger, and it seems to me that Klona's game map is more focused (concentrating, as it does, on bringing the player up and down a central tower). However, the Crystal of Power suffers in two areas: (1) the lack of adequate cut scenes to advise the player of what has happened when levers and switches are pulled, and (2) the predominant blue-gray-purple drabness that also marred (in my opinion) the otherwise excellent Pirate Princess. If this builder had paid more attention to these two issues, I'm confident that The Crystal of Power would have won the competition hands down. To be sure, I had more fun playing The Tiger's level, with its varied and well-lighted settings, but I can't escape the conclusion that Klona's level is the more technically proficient of the two. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, I hope you can see that there is much to be recommended in both levels." - Phil (29-Sep-2012)

"I have spent more than 40 minutes to kill the 4 hydras, not because they were hard to beat but only because they were tough. At some point in the fight I thought I'd shoot to Lara and do it over, giving her an honorable death. However the level is built well, with well-applied textures and architecture as a whole is remarkable. The lights are a little flat, and the gameplay is great although there is a lack of total cameras, important in a level in which you solve a puzzle or pull a lever in a room, and the solution is often in another room away. However, the level is fun, the atmosphere is excellent. One hour of play that you spend with pleasure." - Taras (29-Sep-2012)

"This is a rather dark level set in a very tall room, in which you have to find the way up, doing various tasks in side rooms. The path is filled with traps, but there are also some enemies. The few wolfs are rather weak, but there is a quartet of ferocious dragons to fight too, and it can take quite some time to dispose of them. There are some nice ideas in the level, but it is plagued by mysterious actions at a distance when activating switches and triggers, mostly without indication of where things happen. Some more camera hints would certainly have helped, but a more logical design is also called for. There are some fairly subtle visual cues to traps and puzzles, which can easily be overlooked. The many swing poles on the walls appear to be redundant. I don't think that I ever needed any of them. I think that there is a bit too much block pushing to do and you need to backtrack quite a bit towards the end, but that is not so laborious. Often in TRLE levels, you have to collect puzzle items in different places and bring them back to use them at single location. This level is different. The puzzle items are collected at the same place, but should be put in diverse locations around the level. There are many flares to pick up, but even though the level is quite dark, I didn't need flares very often. It is a nice and original level, but the player is left too much in the dark about the effect of switches and triggers." - Bogey (26-Sep-2012)

"This is a very inventive level with its weakest point being the fact that there are no cut scenes ever that may give you any kind of a hint; so, you end up climbing up and down non- stop almost until infinity until you finally manage to get the crystal of power and then the level ends abruptly. I suppose I can't be very wrong in saying it's for those who have a lot of patience. Another weak spot - and that one is more of the personal nature - is the fact that it's mostly stony and dark. Having the shotgun (basically needed to shoot the serpents on the top level) as a secret isn't really very fair either and it's the second time I've seen that precise same feature lately. Other than that, it's a cleverly crafted level with interesting puzzles, that I would have enjoyed far more hadn't it been for the aforementioned author's choices." - Jorge22 (24-Sep-2012)

"I was quite circumspect at the beginning of this level. The enigma with different texture was not obvious (thank you forum). Lack of cameras is very damaging, how to guess the 4 stars levers freed up? The battle against hydras is difficult enough without the shotgun, I had to get him to remove them. Apart from these few faults the author has done an excellent level in a small space. There are some very good puzzles. I do not know how many there were secrets, I found two. congratulations." - Drakan (24-Sep-2012)

"Klona had some really amazing ideas and moreover, he implemented them excellently in the level. The whole level geometry and map are created marvellously. As Lara goes up the tower, tier by tier, you slowly get to know what is there to be done. By the time we are on the top of the tower we already know that there are four stars and two keys to be collected. Up there, an epic battle with four hydras guarding four stars has to take place, with an ingenious "safe spot" to replenish Lara's health. Then you have to go down once again to place the starts, and once more up to collect the keys, to finally access the prize room at the ground level. Along the way, you have to pass through numerous traps, solve some really nicely imagined puzzles, collect two secrets and go through a very tight timed run. Most puzzles require from the player to pay attention to details, as textures usually indicate the correct spots, so pay attention to the floor and ceiling textures, as they are very useful clues. Despite the backtracking, the level is very nice and dynamic, and never gets boring. However, there are some details that should have been done better. Walls are not divided into sectors properly, thus a lot of cracks. Lighting is decent, although could have been better in the dark rooms. The underwater puzzle with many UW levers is missing clues. Also, a few camera clues would have been helpful, as sometimes I wasn't sure what happened after I had pulled a switch. Klona should pay attention to these details in the next level of his, and I am sure that in the near future he can build a Hall-of-Famer, for sure. This level took me some two hours to finish (45 minutes only to beat the hydras), and I enjoy every second of it immensely. Highly recommendable, despite those minor flaws. Gameplay is simply awesome!" - Nina Croft (21-Sep-2012)

"An intersting (and dark) tower the player hast to climb up and down again. There are very nice ideas and a lot of a bit challenging tasks to do. Puzzles often are not clear, hints are missing or quite hard to detect. If actions take effect in distant places missing camera-clues can be quite annoying. So the player consumes much time in searching for what a thrown lever has caused. Some more clues would have been sensful, some puzzles only can be solved by accident. All in all a well created game!" - Christian (20-Sep-2012)

"An accomplished design, with interesting architectural elements and clever puzzles, obviously produced with a thorough knowledge of the level editor, but because of deliberate choices by the author very frustrating to play. There are few camera shots, so for some switches one can sort of assume what they did, but sometimes the purpose of a switch isn't clear at all. Worse, there is a negative psychological setup for players, so that they always work through obstacles to climb up or into the interior of a room, and then reach the end only to find they are missing a needed object for a receptacle. Lara climbs up a tower, and repeats, solving a puzzle only to discover she needs another of those missing objects. The lack of camera clues become increasingly annoying as the level goes on. And go on it does. This took me many hours. The lighting is so gloomy that often I couldn't tell if patches of wall were projections that Lara could jump to, or depressions. I overlooked one ledge while staring right at it. When Lara finally reaches the top of a tower there are four vigorous hydras, and it took an hour to bring them down. So a great level, very well made. But frankly I don't think much of the lighting; because of the contempt for cameras I could mark that review column down considerably. The hydra enemies are annoying freaks. Gameplay consisted of repeated backtracking up and down the tower, maybe lowering blocks in one room from a completely separate room (the eight underwater levers room), when the hapless player has no idea what is going on, and so needs to revisit everything, looking around to spot what has happened. Not exactly player friendly." - dmdibl (20-Sep-2012)

"Really a good design with a good appearance. Excellent architecture, there are good puzzles and tasks with original ideas. Objects and enemies (wolfs were very weak) are well placed and secrets are findable. Gameplay was really bad for me; a lot of times you pull a switch and there are not camera hints to see what the switch did always in another far rooms; the hard work to kill the four hydras is only for expert players I think, wasting a lot of time reloading and reloading, even if you know the tricks; also the final backtracking to place the stars doing again the same tasks was very annoying. If you're not an expert player I can't recommend this level." - Jose (19-Sep-2012)

"The author surely improved a lot since his last release. The Crystal of power is a long level that tries a bit the patience of the player , not really because of difficult actions to perform , but in reason of the way the author leads the player without a lot of clues and almost no cameras. Most of the time , the absence of camera is quite fair like when you sides to an adjacent puzzle room then you return to the central area something has changed at the same level. But in 2 or 3 places , cameras would have been much welcome. Several puzzles depend of a different pattern of textures that must be spotted, so to continue and not die. This is a constant in the level. The wolves die quickly and so are the hydras if you have the shotgun ( I tried with only the pistols and just give up that way ). The looks are solidly made , even if texturing could be improved in some places , for example around the secret located in the high fissure. All in all , a level that has to be taken as a reasonable challenge by observant and patient players, so to enjoy it ." - eRIC (19-Sep-2012)

"This level follows a format I'm fond of, i.e. making one's way up a central structure with side trips into different rooms to achieve a variety of tasks. Quite possibly I like this type of level because it's a lot harder to get lost than in a large rambling area and I do have a tendency to get lost easily. My only quibble would be that there was a real lack of camera shots to indicate what various switches etc., had actually done, but I managed to muddle through anyway. There's plenty to enjoy here, with a good mix of challenges (none too onerous) and just a few readily dealt with wolves (one even got flattened by a boulder, which was a nice touch )for enemies up until the boss fight towards the end where you get four hydras all at once. Do try not to miss the shotgun (one of the two secrets) as this will definitely make life easier, although I still found it quite challenging to finish them all off. It also involves a 'health tile' which puts Lara out when she catches fire and tops up her health bar - definitely an unusual twist. Good fun and well worth playing." - Jay (18-Sep-2012)

"***Hmmm - a level from klona? Wasn't this the guy who released two rather bad demos? I better stay away...or I could at least sneak a peek at it just to be proven right and go on with the other ... WHOA - this is looking pretty incredible***
These were basically my thoughts, when I started this little gem which soon turned out to be not only the longest level but also the most demanding one of this contest. What you get here is a well-designed, thought-out map that's very reminscent of TR1's "St. Francis Folly" with its central huge tower and the adjacent challenge rooms. Lara starts at the very bottom and has to work her way up to the top, where a pretty tough fight is waiting and up to this very point I massively enjoyed the game. Of course there were some flaws, namely the lack of camera hints (klona already told me, that he thought he could only use flyby-cameras, which he soon ran out of) and a rather odd enemy-placement (how did the wolves survive there?) but the good moments certainly outweighed them as Klona provides just the right mixture of avoiding traps, platforming and puzzle solving. After the fight however (or already during it if you don't know that you can switch targets with the look-button) there was a huge amount of backtracking, which left a bitter taste on the otherwise great gameplay...would have loved to give 9 points in this category, as klona seemingly worked very hard on it. In terms of textures/lighting he did a pretty good job as well. Despite being rather dark, due to the absence of natural lightsources in about 90% of the level, one can always see everything clearly, thanks to a good number of purple-glowing crystals, which provided a magical touch. The only thing I didn't like that much was the rather huge number of cracks in the level, so the author may want to get cmfortable with the "Crack Mode" for his future release. All in all a great adventure that will keep you entertained for about 1 hour. Recommended" - Soul (18-Sep-2012)

"It's really quite astonishing that a game of such comparatively limited constructional parameters could produce gameplay of 95 minutes duration! Admittedly,the author cheats a little by 1) having the player retrace their steps way too many times over the entire playing area;and 2) refusing to provide a single camera clue to indicate where to go,or what activated what (which produced a lot of the aforementioned backtracking).Actually,this made the gameplay quite hateful at times;and ensured that I was not well disposed to the adventure for much of its duration.Which is a crying shame,as the author has done a stunning job of construction.The huge Chamber is a beautifully lit,immaculately textured,and hugely atmospherical location;while the enemies are deviously placed,culminating in a nerve-tearing multi-Boss confrontation (easy if you have the Shotgun and can work out the appropriate strategy). With a Walkthrough handy,this would be a stunning single- location adventure;without,most players will probably find it a little too aggravating to be properly enjoyable." - Orbit Dream (18-Sep-2012)

"This level looks great; the theme is somewhat Greek but there's a twist of a lot of the lighting coming from crystals and other natural sources. I imagine those on darker monitors will have issues with the brightness as it quite dark for me despite usually having no problems with that, however, a lot of flares are provided so it's not much of an issue. Object use is also good (although the Peruvian statues were slightly ill-fitting). Overall it's very atmospheric.
The central area of this map is somewhat evocative of St Francis' Folly, although it's more linear as you work your way up one challenge room at a time. The challenges are quite enjoyable and varied, along with an interesting encounter up the top (although it could be very frustrating if you miss the new mechanic it's based around). The level goes a bit downhill near the end though, as you have to backtrack through all the challenge rooms in a way that's mostly just padding, and it would be better without it. Outside of that misstep at the end this is a great level." - Mman (17-Sep-2012)

"A step upwards from the first two levels of Klona, as this is a really elaborate and decent level for the most time that reminds me on St. Francis Folly with the tower setting which seems to have a quite practical cause for the 20³ contest. I liked how textures were used to give hints for the various puzzles but the gloomyness of the level is not very helpful to find all the hints alone. The gameplay is as expected pretty linear as it takes you slowly up the tower but it's mostly engaging with a lot of smaller puzzles like pushblocks (very smart usage to get up the tower here), spike and boulder usages or an underwater lever room, but there also were a few minor gripes I had with it, like the fact that you had to visit the UW area to raise a block in another room so if you don't do it in that order you have to backtrack quite a bit; the activation of the raisingblock is not hinted with a camera, so you might be confused even if you do it the other way around. Also, the hydra fight was at first glance pretty innovative with a health-respawning tile, but four of them in the same direction was a bit of too much and it's not easy to find a right strategy, so it took me pretty long to finally kill them; the placement of the four stars at the end was a bit of a mixed bag for me as at the one side I liked how you had to remember the placements of the receptacles, but on the other side it was tedious to revisit the places again. Visually, this level is appealing with overall great visuals, I especially loved the lights coming out of the crystals which fits to the theme, but as mentioned I found everything a bit too dark and there were some smaller mistakes in the texturing too. Apart from a few missing sounds and missing cameras, there isn't much to critisize technically about the atmosphere, but I still was not totally convinced as even if done competently the lighting could have some variety from the blue/purple and the rooms felt often alike because of that. All in all I spent 55 minutes in this level and found two exceptionally well hidden secrets. Well done - and with little tweaking the next level will be even better." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2012)
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