Video Game Rentals Delivered

Exit

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-05-18 22:03:18

Exit (XBLA) - Rank C


Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Date: 10/24/07

Also available for PSP

This is the third Xbox Live Arcade "get people from one side to the other" puzzle game I've reviewed, and I've yet to find one I genuinely enjoy. The other two are Cloning Clyde and Eets: Chowdown. What's frustrating is that all three ooze charm and personality and feature terrific brain taxing puzzle play, but suffer from repetitive mechanics and clunky interfaces.

In Exit, you control Mr. ESC, a master escape artist. Your duty is to plunge into disaster zones, such as a burning building, gather the survivors and escape. You'll have to navigate past fires, electrical shorts, and other such hazards by interacting with items, doors, switches, boxes...you know, the usual stuff. Even trickier is guiding the survivors, who are definitely not as nimble. They all have varying capabilities which are ingeniously woven into the puzzle solving.

All of this is well and good, but Exit is tragically clumsy. Mr. ESC is a torpid slug who plods around the screen at a soul-achingly slow pace. He handles exactly like the hero from the original Prince of Persia, which was terrific for 1989, but good frickin' gravy, it's frustrating by modern standards. You have to line him up on the proper "tile" to activate anything. You'll find yourself repeatedly falling off edges and dying unless you remain vigilant about this precision. The controls feel unnecessarily elaborate. Do you really need a button push to pick up a key, another to unlock a door, and another to open the door? The final nail in the coffin is the frustrating thickheadedness of the A.I. You have to completely babysit the survivors as they have absolutely wretched pathfinding.

I'm lashing Exit fairly hard in this review, but what chafes me is that the puzzles themselves are really quite good. At their best, they're devious and engrossing, and there are tons of them. In a refreshing deviation from typical Xbox Marketplace policy, additional puzzle packs can also be downloaded entirely for free (at least, at the time of this writing).

I'm still waiting for the second coming of Lemmings. Until then, Exit joins the likes of Cloning Clyde and Eets: Chowdown as intelligent, but frustrating imitators.

[Edit: If you enjoyed this game, the sequel Exit 2 is now available. It's essentially the same game with tons of new levels.]

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