Exit 2 has a problem. Released on the back of the original’s console and handheld success, it’s clear that the initial idea is beginning to burn itself out. As a sequel, this title serves as a perfect portion of extra helpings for diehard fans of the formula. For everyone else, Exit 2 shows itself to be a frustratingly sloppy addition that opts for a tastier visual feast rather than any new gameplay ideas.
On the surface, it’s easy to see what made the series such a commercial success in the first place. Stylised to within an inch of its life, it wouldn’t be obscure to see Mr Esc and company stumble through the door and into the panels of a Frank Miller comic book. With contrasting colours giving a sprightly and spirited appearance, you may be forgiven for wasting some of your much needed escape time in order to take in the wild palette arrangement. Aided by intricate details that make each scenario setting authentic, the difference between the twenty-five stages on offer does breathe extra life into the puzzle shenanigans.
“When the worst bit about such a fast-paced ‘thinking’ title is the faltering gameplay, you know you’re in for trouble.”
When the worst bit about such a fast-paced ‘thinking’ title is the faltering gameplay, you know you’re in for trouble. Lengthy tutorials are on hand for newcomers, breaking down each individual action into manageable chunks. As the first point of call for most gamers, the repetitive music and level designs should act as a warning. Even here, on a much slower, less intense scale, you’ll wonder if the controls are best suited to the overcoming of simple obstacles such as boxes and locked doors. At its most basic point, the looseness of each command ensures this quickly becomes a title that will test your nerve in an unexpected, and certainly unneeded, manner of ways.
Progressing through this mixed bag of decent ideas and sloppy execution, you’ll wonder where the developers are going to take this next. Of course, through Xbox Live Marketplace they have the perfect platform to introduce fresh thoughts that could serve the series well. Unfortunately, as you make your way through locations such as ‘Ninja Castle’ and ‘Pyramid Adventure,’ you’ll start to become tired of the same old patterns that take place when getting your companions across each section and to the exit. Whilst the latter level mentioned features a blackout that cranks up the nerves, you’ll be looking for these minor changes in pace to keep yourself from nodding off to sleep, as it’s hardly original or worthy of your time.
As usual, you’re main task is to act as hero and save your companions from danger. You’ll come across various characters, ranging from feeble children to an oddly designed, and seemingly invincible, Japanese robot. As these companions all carry different strengths with regards to speed, climbing skills, and brute force, they’re your main tools to get through the level. Mr Esc is competent at everything, but even he needs a little extra push in order to shove the bigger boxes off ledges and into water or the ground below. Remarkably, controlling these companions is as frustrating as the rest of the game, as you’ll often ask them to perform tasks that they refuse first time round, just because they weren’t directly in-line with the route to progress.
“You’ll often attempt jumps that look as if they should be easy to land, only to be inevitably sucked back down to Earth by the face-crunching limits of gravity.”
This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if Mr Esc responded in the way we wanted him to. Often, he’ll fall from ledges when we want to climb down ladders, as the difference between input commands is minuscule. The hard work of a level can be lost in one moment of stupidity: not from the player, but from the game itself. You’ll often attempt jumps that look as if they should be easy to land, only to be inevitably sucked back down to Earth by the face-crunching limits of gravity. These restrictions wouldn’t be such a blow if the game actually made you want to save the grief-stricken companions that litter each level. Unfortunately, their constant whining reinforced with the inability to do anything automatically means you’ll more likely want to push them into the brightly rendered flames rather than traversing around them.
These problems, along with the lacklustre controls, restrict Exit 2 a great deal. Granted, there is plenty to work through here, all presented with the contemporary flair of a team who do care about their unlikely hero. If you can stomach the achingly wearisome gameplay, then you’ll get some decent enjoyment from this title. Unfortunately for us, as a sequel this brings nothing new to the table, and fails to improve on the structure that allowed for a second adventure. A disappointing outing from Mr Esc and his associates, as we’ll be expecting something very different for the next instalment. For now, it’s with regret that this title will have you heading for the door without those pesky companions by your side in no time at all.