I Ex­pect You To Die

PSVR, Rift


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.

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