I Expect You to Die Review – Shaken, Not Stirred (PSVR)
Everyone has wanted to be a spy, an international man of mystery using cool gadgets and amazing skills to end schemes plotted by the most evil of villains. Taking its title from the famed James Bond movie quote (said by Goldfinger in the film of the same name), I Expect You to Die puts players in the shoes of an elite spy in impossible situations, and what better way to complete the immersive experience of being a spy than presenting everything in VR, so that you can truly be the operative? The villain is nefarious, and if you play, I sincerely expect you to die. Again and again. It’s part of the allure that makes I Expect You to Die a PSVR must have.
Poison gas? Yeah, that one will probably get you. Explosions? Definitely going to get burnt. Drowning? Hey, it happens. Call it a workplace hazard. I Expect You to Die is a brilliant puzzle game where failure results in death, and successful navigation of each situation leads to feeling like a pretty badass secret agent. I mean, disarming a bomb filled with a airborne virus at the last second before launch is a thrilling feeling, and doing it in VR where immersive presence ups the sense of urgency manages to really get my heart pounding. Death is imminent, waiting behind every botched attempt to overcome the evil villain’s plans. There is no expectation of success. The expectation is right there in the title, and it makes surmounting the odds taste that much sweeter.
Starting up I Expect You to Die drops you into some awesome opening credits that feel like being inside of the opening sequence of a Bond movie. From the song to the noire styled visuals, it’s got that awesome spy feel, albeit a little more on the goofy side of things than your standard takes-itself-too-seriously James Bond opening. It’s all in full VR too, which presents full immersion, and Schell Games could be praised for this awesome sequence alone. I’ve seen less interesting non-interactive VR presentations that didn’t have gameplay follow them up, so it’s a real testament to how much work and attention to the little details Schell Games put into this to give it that perfect super spy feel.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
I don’t want to describe the missions too in depth, because some of the joy lies in the surprise, and figuring out how to use the tools at your disposal to complete each task creates some ingenious moments. The first mission puts you in the driver’s seat of car, sitting in the cargo bay of an airplane. With little instruction, you are told to drive the car out of the airplane. Looking around the car shows off a series of seemingly innocuous objects, but most of it is stuff that you can soon use to complete the series of tasks to finish your mission. As I said earlier though, death waits around every corner.
Starting the car initiates a retinal scan that you of course fail. Failing a retinal scan? That’ll get you a laser, and a quick death. I retried this part a couple of times, trying to figure out how to start the car without dying to the laser when it hit me. I was playing in VR. There wasn’t any kind of special game mechanic. It was a real life mechanic. I ducked. Sure enough the laser went right over my head and the next death trap activated (a bomb). It’s the kind of thing that you can’t have in a traditional 2D game. I’m so used to playing video games that I overthought what was a simple solution. It was literally moving my body to dodge the laser, as I would if I were sitting right there in the driver’s seat.
Other tasks involve mixing chemical formulas, sealing up a leaky submarine escape pod, and even pretending to be an innocent window washer to distract from any suspicion. All of these are handled with real motion using the Move controllers as independent hands, or with a DualShock 4 if you prefer a traditional control scheme, though I must recommend full use of the Moves to really get the complete experience. There’s nothing quite like holding a bomb in one hand and a broken wine bottle in the other as you cut the wires to disarm it.
These inventive ideas permeate each of the four missions, but at the end, there are only four missions, and they fly by far too quickly. At the end of the fourth, I felt I was just getting into the swing of things, gearing myself up for what would come next, and instead the credits rolled by. Trying and retrying each mission will probably take between one to two hours, depending on how adept you are at figuring out solutions to each. Once the solutions are in hand though, each mission can be completed in a matter of minutes, and there’s actually a souvenir that can be earned on each one for speed runs completed in certain times.
Souvenirs From Your Travels
Souvenirs are additional tasks that add some replayability to each mission. They can range from odd things like toasting a sandwich, to bizarre tasks like putting a hat on a stuffed bear with a crossbow. Completing these decorates the 1950’s inspired office that acts as the main menu, adding items from the missions that can be played around with. Some of the main tasks also have multiple solutions, such as the wires on the bomb in the first mission that can either be cut with the knife (if you can get it from outside the window without dying to poison gas) or the broken champagne bottle from the center console. It’s fun replaying the missions to see what kind of multi-utility each object has for completing the missions, because each setting is full of objects that can be interacted with. Completing the game also gives a nice set of commentary tracks for each environment so that you can learn a little about the making of the game while you play.
I Expect You to Die is an essential VR game that gets across why virtual reality is so fundamentally different from traditional games. It immerses you in Schell’s take on spy culture, and provides some frantic heart pounding moments as you try not to die. The adventure is over all too quickly, but the format of the missions being launched from a central office is the perfect platform to bring in additional missions as updates or DLC, which I would wholly support if they matched up to the impeccable quality of the existing puzzles. The credits do conclude by saying “I Expect You To Die will continue…” so after all of these deadly super spy experiences, it looks like Schell Games still expects you to die, and hopefully we don’t have to wait too long. I Expect You to Die isn’t just stirring up the field of virtual reality. Like a Bond martini, it’s thoroughly shaken.
I Expect You To Die review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.