Never has a title been more fitting to a game than Exit DS. When catastrophe befalls, what better action to take than EXIT? Unfortunately, you play a psuedo-hero named Mr Esc whose sole purpose in life seems to be rescuing people from burning buildings, drowning buildings, and buildings hit by a freak-icicle storm.
Exit DS can be described as a cross between a platformer and Lemmings. Mr. Esc can jump over things, climb, and use objects, but most levels require the help of the people he rescues in order to guide everyone to the exit. People whom Mr. Esc rescued can be commanded to do tasks like helping him move a heavy block, swimming to fetch an object, crawling through spaces he’s not small enough to fit through, and a lot of other helpful things.
The biggest difference between Exit DS and the other versions is the touch screen controls. You tap on Mr. Esc or other people once, tap somewhere else to get them to move there, or tap something else to have them interact with it. Instructions can be strung together in a series of taps. Having played only the DS version, I can’t imagine how it could be played otherwise; the game gives you the choice of using a d-pad, although you do have to exit the level to change it. The d-pad control scheme feels inefficient after getting used to playing with the stylus. However, the touch screen controls are far from perfect. There were several times where I cursed in frustration as a tap registered wrong and sent Mr. Esc running to his death.
The game slowly teaches players its mechanics through the first scenario which is mainly a tutorial session. That’s not to say the rest of the game is easy. Difficulty ramps up to a pleasing degree where completing each scenario leaves me with an accomplished feeling.
Though the controls take some getting used to and will rebel once in a while, Exit DS is a quirky action puzzler that’s a worthy addition to the DS library. Its short levels make it perfect for playing on a portable.
Images courtesy of Taito / Square Enix.