A hyper-stylized 2D puzzler/platform-hopper, Exit stars Mr. ESC, a two-tone, fedora-wearing escape-artist-for-hire. Using only his wits and acrobatic abilities, Mr. ESC charges into disaster areas to rescue trapped victims, slogging through rubble, fire and water. Getting his charges to safety takes jumping, climbing and the creative use of ropes, fire extinguishers and whatever else the designers saw fit to leave lying around.
Exit plays like a 2D Tomb Raider (or the original Prince of Persia, if you remember it), with plenty of leaping across chasms and climbing up ledges. Your progress through the 100 stylized levels is blocked by long drops, electrified floors and stacked crates, among other obstacles. Getting past them involves careful thought, perfect timing and the help of the people Mr. ESC rescues. And while maneuvering Mr. ESC around is challenging enough, it's nothing compared to shepherding disaster victims.
Each level has a few of these victims, and you'll usually need to save them all if Mr. ESC is going to earn his pay. They come in four varieties: athletic Young People, who are relatively self-sufficient and nearly as capable as Mr. ESC; big fat Adults, who move slowly and need help getting over tall obstacles, but can move heavy objects; Kids, who can squeeze into tight spaces; and Patients, who need to be carried around on someone's back or a stretcher (but who come in handy for keeping pressure-sensitive doors open). All victims can usually be found sitting around crying until you touch them, at which point they'll follow you around and obey simple commands.
Commanding them is easy; while Mr. ESC moves with the d-pad, touching the analog stick brings up a mouse-style cursor. Just click on the person you want to order around, click on whatever it is you want them to interact with, and they'll push crates, use tools to clear hazards or just run wherever you tell them to. They come in handy for carrying tools and Patients, and you'll often need to work in tandem with them, helping them to push stacks of crates or just ordering them to hold doors open.
Unfortunately, they're not as smart as they could be, and they seem to have a particular problem with stairs. If you're a floor above them and tell them to follow you, they'll just stand underneath your position and bleat plaintively until you specifically order them to walk over and climb the stairs. They're also completely ignorant of hazards, so if you're not careful, they'll happily saunter into open flames or electrified floors like brainless lemmings.
Despite this irksome flaw, Exit will keep you hooked. This is partly because of the frustration from all the many near-misses you'll experience in each stage, but also because each disaster area is cleverly designed and fiendishly challenging to figure out. And once you've finished its 100 stages - which takes a while - you can download even more levels for free.
So far, the PSP hasn't exactly been a font of originality. Most of its games are scaled-down versions of what we've been playing for years, if not lazy ports of console titles. Exit, however, is among the first wave of games to offer Sony's handheld something truly unique, and it's addictive as all hell.