There are certain genres that seem perfectly suited for Virtual reality; Cockpit-based games, first person horror, Sim-style management games, the list goes on. There is one example that has been largely overlooked until now, escape the room puzzle games. Mainly thriving on mobile platforms up to this point, it has taken developer Schell Games to drag the genre into virtual reality. I Expect You to Die does so with spectacular success, and a touch of James Bond.
Right off the bat, I Expect You to Die draws you into its world. A world full of goofy, tongue in cheek espionage and one jam packed with Bond homages galore. The introduction is hands down one of the best experiences I’ve had in Virtual reality. Period. In its opening minutes I Expect You to Die puts you front and center as a James Bond opening sequence unfolds around you. Using an original Bond-inspired track, it sets the scene perfectly.
The game is controlled using two PlayStation Move controllers. Each serving as one of the player’s hands, they can be used to pick up, throw and interact with various objects. The way the game uses the Move controllers deserves a lot of credit. They can be used to grab an object from afar (every agent possesses telekinesis in this world), which can then be moved towards or away from the player using the face buttons. I Expect You to Die is the first game I have played to make full use of the Move controllers, and as a result has an added layer of depth. While the game can be compared to Job Simulator, it features more options in terms of controls.
Most of the game’s enjoyment comes from experimentation. Each of the game’s 4 levels are filled to the brim with seemingly ordinary objects, a lighter, a stash of money, a sponge. Ordinary objects which can be combined in many interesting ways for a hilarious effect. Each level takes around 20 minutes to play through and follows a classic escape the room puzzle formula. One such level tasks you with escaping an aircraft hanger using a car. The hanger outside of the car is filled with toxic gas, and the car is fitted with a security system you must outsmart. This initial level tested me to my limits as I went through session after session of trial and error.
If this sounds repetitive I can assure you it isn’t. This is because each carefully crafted fail state features a hilarious death scene. When triggering one of these deaths, and trust me, you will, description of how you died pops up on screen and you are taken back to the start of the level.
The fact that the game puts you right back at the start of the level does border on frustrating. It forces you to play through parts which you have already completed and due to the high frequency of death, it can drag the level out. The levels are short enough for this not to become a huge problem however, and the gameplay is so fun that I didn’t mind replaying some sequences multiple times.
The game may seem short, you can complete the game in under an hour if you rush through, but there is plenty of replayability here. Each level features several optional objectives to complete and a time trial to master. The end of the game also strongly hints to a sequel.
Throughout my play through I experienced no tracking issues and the visuals were top notch from start to finish. I Expect You to Die succeeds in making you feel like a secret agent, and is the most fun I’ve had in VR yet.