You’ve always wanted to be James Bond, right? I Expect You To Die can make that happen! As long as you’re looking for danger, peril and near or actual death experiences in VR; those in search of Aston Martin’s and sexy spies might need to look elsewhere. Read on for more details on the unique “escape the room” puzzler from Schell Games before this review self destructs.
The setup for I Expect You To Die is simple and effective, and unashamedly wears its inspirations on its sleeve right from the Bond inspired (and amazingly immersive feeling) intro, through to items and in-jokes dotted around the levels. It’s all about pretending you’re the world’s greatest spy, working to stop your nemesis from destroying mankind as we know it. In VR, this means finding yourself in a variety of locations filled with interactive objects that you can play with to your hearts content… right up until the point something tries to kill you. Here lies the crux of the game: frantically battling the clock to stop yourself from being shot, lasered, taunted with quips from your support team, gassed or blown up, all whilst still trying to complete your mission. On your first encounter with the levels, you’ll also have no idea what is going to trigger your death, and have to hunt for clues and patterns that will help you reach the objective. This will really appeal to all the problem solvers out there.
Immersing yourself in VR can be a bit of a lottery at the moment in terms of whether you’re going to get a good looking experience or not, and fortunately I Expect You To Die has some of the better visuals seen in a PSVR headset. It’s colourful, sharp and inventive with the use of space and depth, and is a joy to be part of right from the beginning. Helping hold your attention in the environment is a well delivered raft of briefings and context specific comments from your trusty upper class British handler voiced by Anthony Daniels. Not only does it lend a structure to the narrative that links the levels, it provides doses of humour to lighten the tone, such as when your vision is diminishing as your brain is starved of oxygen, just to help you focus on the task at hand. What really defines the game though is the interactivity and use of the objects and world around you. Near enough everything in reach can be manipulated in some way, even if it’s just picking it up and looking at it; some items have additional functions like lighters and your trusty silenced pistol which adds an additional layer to what you can do; and if an item isn’t in reach you can use telekinesis to pull it or even pin it in mid air – very handy for looking at a reference card when creating chemical recipes.
The variety in the environments is distinct, nothing feels a copy of another location, and each has very different puzzles and dangers to watch out for. Aside from the main mission, every level also has souvenirs to collect which are earned by completing mystery objectives that usually involve playing around with whatever you can get your hands on and doing something you shouldn’t. There’s an obligatory speed run achievement for each level too. What hits the game as a downside here is that there aren’t really enough levels to keep you going. With only 4 main scenarios and a briefing room it leaves you wanting quite a bit more. Once you’ve solved a puzzle there are only the additional objectives to discover, and even though they’re fun, completing the level is still a repetition of what you did before. It’s probably the speed run aspect that provides the most challenge – you’ll need to have full co-ordinated use of both your arms and able to operate 5 buttons on each Move controller to get near the par time.
Because there’s the social screen in I Expect You To Die, it turns into a decent co-operative game as well, with anyone in the room able to chip in with advice and suggestions. It’s let down by the poor resolution on the second screen because text that’s visible in the headset can be tricky to read unless it’s held right up to your eyes for others to see. It doesn’t stop it being enjoyable, but it’s something that could have been implemented better. That said, we’re talking minor quibbles with what is a fun little game, and one that has you returning to the scenarios to find all the secrets, like discovering that you can put a hat on your head (yes, in VR that actually turns out to be quite impressive!). It’s short, sharp and amusing throughout, and here’s hoping we get more chances to kill ourselves in equally fiendish and maniacal ways.
I Expect You To Die from Schell Games is out now on Oculus Rift and PSVR at around the £20 mark depending on your platform.