Gaming is a pretty unhealthy, not to mention dangerous, past-time, if you believe the media. At best, it turns you into some brain-dead idiot, and at worst into some psychopath ready to shoot up his local school and/or dual-carriage way.
Itâs even more bad news for PSP owners, because not only does all the above apply to them, but, if you believe the naysayers, they also have to put up with shoddy ports, remakes and other ill-judged, half-designed games crow-barred onto their system.
Fittingly then, enter Mr. Esc, the hero of Exit, to the rescue.
The premise of Exit is golden, and one staggeringly underused in gaming. You play as the aforementioned Mr Esc, as he leaps into burning buildings, flooded subways, earthquake-stricken hospitals and other disaster areas, and attempt to rescue the victims trapped inside before the time runs out.
And not a gun, never mind a prostitute or lowrider packed full of thugs, in sight. In Exit, you donât think with your fists, but you do have to think an awful lot with your head. You see, though the premise may sound all-action, in reality Exit is a game of thought and logic. Scattered throughout each level, of which there are one hundred, with more to download, are crates, planks, keys, pickaxes, flashlights and various other devices, each with a specific use. A pickaxe can only be used to hack your way through a frozen wall, a fire extinguisher can only be used to, err, extinguish fires, and so on. As you can only carry one at a time, the real challenge of each level is finding out exactly in which order to use these tools. Should you first open the door to the fire extinguisher in order to create a path to the kid, or do you need to pave a way for the fat guy so he can help you move the huge crate?
Itâs those kind of conundrums that are central to Exitâs appeal, and while each level presents a difficult challenge, it almost never leaves you stumped for long â itâs usually pretty obvious that youâve made a mistake just as soon as youâve made it, leading to much head-slapping and cursing, and instilling in you a renewed vigour as you set about the level again, experience gained from your previous run in tow.
And how refreshing is it to see such a wonderful game appear on the much-maligned PSP? Taito should receive every award going for their approach to designing for the console. From the bright, crisp, 2D visuals, to the short, wide levels stretching across that screen, to the strict time limits on each level that make it ideal for a quick-fix play on the bus, itâs a real treat to gamers whoâve had to gorge on ports of PS2 racers amidst a famine of genuine innovative, tailor-made content.
Exit can easily count itself amongst the best games out on the system at the moment, and will hopefully encourage other publishers and developers to be more ambitious than simply porting their back-catalogues. And the fact that it does all of this without a gangsta rap soundtrack or an arsenal of licensed weapons, and manages to provide some of the most taxing cerebral challenges youâll come across nowadays, is some achievement.