I Expect You To Die
Right from the epic, ’70s-flavoured opening credits, I Expect You To Die immerses you in the fantasy of being a superspy. But Schell Games is peddling something that’s more Archer than GoldenEye. Each of the game’s four levels is a simple escape-the-room challenge in which success is reliant on trial and error – and continual, calamitous death.
To aid you in your mission, you always carry your trusty silenced pistol, and usually a packed lunch, but must improvise thereafter. Most items in each level can be used in multiple ways, and there’s plenty of nonessential stuff to muck around with, too – cigars to smoke, hats to wear, and champagne bottles to pop open. You also have the gift of telekinesis, which with a Touch controller is activated by holding either of the sticks forward and then squeezing a trigger. This slightly contrived setup usefully extends your reach, and you can even make items hang in the air around you as if you’re using an invisible cork board.
Every room is riddled with traps and security systems which must be circumvented or disabled. Their associated countdowns are, for the most part, expertly timed to ensure that you have just long enough to complete the task once panic sets in. In many cases The organisations you’re working to bring down are pretty determined to stop you. In the first level alone you’ll face poisonous gas, a bomb and a retina-scanning system that’s determined to melt you with its laser this results in situations that really do feel like the climax to a spy movie as you delicately manipulate explosive chemicals or defuse a bomb while trying desperately to shut out the insistent ticking.
In other cases, things don’t feel quite so finely balanced, and the need to start the entire level again if you die can lead to frustration and a fear of experimentation. Still, every room can be completed in two or three minutes once you know what you’re doing, so getting back to the point where you failed isn’t too laborious – even if deaths can occasionally feel cheap. On one underwater level, two rather laborious tasks make retrying considerably less appealing.
Once completed, there’s little reason to go back to any of the missions. A selection of additional challenges (find a way to shower a room in money, accessorise your outfit, or blaze through a mission in under two minutes) provide a little extra entertainment, but the pleasure of toying with each room’s systems and objects quickly erodes once you know all of the solutions. When the credits roll, the game feels like it’s only just getting into the swing of things, and the existing package is crying out for more, and longer, chapters to get stuck into.
I Expect You To Die is yet another slight VR release that serves as an excellent proof of concept but disappoints by not following through.