- Platforms: PlayStation VR (reviewed), Oculus Rift
- Developed By: Schell Games
- Genre: Puzzle
- ESRB Rating: E10+
- Number of Players: 1
- Release Date: December 5, 2016
With the new technology behind Virtual Reality headsets, developers have had to re-invent the wheel for each genre they try to tackle. I Expect You To Die is a VR puzzle game that uses some clever solutions to overcome the hurdles of the platform, while providing a delightful set of puzzles to solve.
The premise of the game is simple and lighthearted: You play as a secret agent who is placed in a handful of zany missions with the ultimate goal of stopping an evil scientist. Each mission consists of a series of escape-the-room style puzzles, most of which can be solved in multiple ways. Humor is sprinkled throughout the game, both in the dialogue and in wacky situations that arise from the missions, keeping the game upbeat and fun. The thrilling soundtrack, the exciting scenarios, and the voice-over from mission command all combine to create one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had with VR yet.
Each of the four missions places the player character in a centralized location, such as the driver’s seat of a car or on a window-washing platform on the side of a building, and presents them with an end goal to reach. There are a variety of objects within arm’s reach, and the player has “telekinesis” which allows them to push, pull, and lift objects outside of that distance. It’s also possible to use telekinesis to simply leave an object floating in the air nearby, more or less serving as the equivalent of an inventory system in a traditional adventure/puzzle game.
The title of the game is fitting, given how often I died during my time playing. Many puzzles require the player to think quickly, defusing a bomb before it goes off or dealing with being spotted by an enemy spy. This creates an excellent feeling of tension, testing the player’s ability to keep calm under pressure. Death will happen, but it’s never overly punishing. After a quick word from mission control, the mission restarts, and everything is back to how it was at the start.
I cannot overstate how immersed I felt playing this title. The controls were smooth and the environments, while cartoony, felt real. The controls for telekinesis took some time to adjust to, but they ended up feeling surprisingly natural. The choice not to include artificial locomotion and instead have the entire game take place from a stationary point of view meant that there was no worry of motion sickness. It should be noted that I primarily played with the Playstation Move controllers, but the game also supports the Dualshock 4 (Xbox controller, Oculus Touch, and keyboard/mouse on PC). While the game still plays fine with the Dualshock 4, it was significantly less immersive and felt much less natural.
The biggest fault with I Expect You To Die is that there simply isn’t more of it. There are only four missions and none are particularly lengthy. The puzzles are sufficiently challenging but they pass by too quickly. Fortunately, the developers added in-game achievements for each mission, obtained by solving puzzles with unusual solutions and completing the missions under a strict time limit, and there is a decently in-depth developer commentary track to listen to, but even after completing every bit of content in the game I found myself wanting more.
I Expect You To Die caught me completely off guard with how much fun I had. It was just as fun to solve puzzles as it was in the classic point-and-click adventure games, and it used the VR technology in a way most games haven’t been able to. This game will be the gold-standard I compare new VR games to in the future.
Must Play – A video game that is great in almost every aspect. It offers great fun and value to the gamer with very few negative points