Leave no stick figure behind

Two-dimensional gaming on handhelds might be on the decline, but you'd never know that from looking at Exit, an upcoming action-puzzler from Taito. With a unique, nonviolent concept and a striking resemblance to the original Prince of Persia games, Exit casts players as Mr. ESC, a fedora-wearing, coffee-fixated escape artist tasked with rescuing people from disaster-stricken areas.

Fighting against the clock, Mr. ESC runs, jumps and climbs his way through 2D disaster areas(rendered in sylized 3D). Charging intoburning buildings and flooded subways with nothing but a hat and some acrobatic skills, he'll need to ferret out trapped civilians and lead them to the exit.

In the mostly complete build of the game we played, the disaster victims proved to be more than brainless lemmings. Coming in four varieties - Kids, athletic Young People, useless Patients and tubby Adults - they each have skills that are vital for solving each stage's puzzles. Kids can squeeze into tight places (as you probably guessed), while Adults are slow but can push heavy objects. Young People can do almost anything Mr. ESC can do, and Patients can't really do anything (although you can tell one of the others to carry them). Ordering these folks around is simple: While Mr. ESC moves with the directional pad, moving the analog stick brings up a mouse cursor. Use it to click on a rescue and the object you want them to interact with, and they'll happily do your bidding. They're even capable of carrying and using the tools (keys, flashlights, pickaxes, etc.) that litter each stage.

Naturally, being in a disaster area means your path is blocked with all sorts of irksome hazards. In some stages it's fire, while in others it's rubble. Other times, you'll need to contend with floodwaters, ice, electrified floors (sure, why not?) or total darkness. This is a puzzle game, however, so don't expect to deal with realistically spreading flames or whatever. Instead, each stage is centered more on figuring out the right sequence of events - the order in which to put fires out, for example, or the right time to order a fat man to move a safe. Some of the solutions are obvious, while others are less so (like directing one of your rescues to hold a door open for you while you hit a switch to turn on a fan to clear smoke).

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