But I Was Willing To Talk!
HIGH Turning off a self-destruct device with one second left on the clock.
LOW There are only five levels.
WTF It’s a sniper bear! With a jaunty cap!
It’s a testament to I Expect You To Die‘s success that I loved it even though it in no way fulfilled its stated premise.
This title is a VR ‘escape room’ game, with a title that references the definitive James Bond deathtrap, and an opening credits sequence which specifically establishes that the experience will be about the player’s attempts to escape a mad scientist’s lethal clutches.
Despite all that priming, at no point is the player ever captured, nor are they ever asked to free themselves from a diabolical contraption — It’s just a VR jaunt about sabotaging a supervillian’s myriad schemes… and it’s incredible.
A seated VR experience, Expect puts players in the role of a secret agent across four missions which take them from ten thousand feet in the air to the bottom of the ocean, and two other places in between. In each of the levels, the player is assigned a relatively simple task, which is immediately complicated as technology fails, traps are triggered, and timers start to count down.
Expect does a better job than any game since No One Lives Forever of capturing classic ’60s spy aesthetics. The furniture, the music, the technology – all of it is perfectly designed to represent not what Bond and company actually looked like fifty years ago, but the impression that those adventures left in the minds of the children who grew up watching them. Gadget cars, deadly lasers, bomb defusing…. the Expect ticks off every box that a fan of classic spy fiction wants to see, and does it with style to spare.
This title doesn’t just look pretty, either — the gameplay is absolutely rock-solid.
Handled with two Move controllers, the player interacts using virtual hands and telekinesis to grab items and employ them in the environment. The developers have done a great job of streamlining item managemen, and making it incredibly accessible. Not only can players easily move items around the small play areas, they’re able to make items ‘hover’ wherever they like, freeing them from having to go searching for an important item that they need later in the level.
The levels themselves are incredibly well-designed. The puzzles all fit in a nice sweet spot that’s closer to complex than unfair. I died a few times on each level (as the title predicted!) but as long as I paid careful attention to my surroundings and was willing to experiment, I was never hung up on any puzzle for long.
If I Expect You To Die has a drawback, it’s the relatively short running time. I made it through all four levels in less than an hour, and while there are challenges to complete which make each level worth revisiting, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the whole thing can be completed in under seven minutes according to the game’s own par times. That being said, $25 is a pretty fair price to pay for an actual escape room experience, and it’s impossible to imagine a real-life escape room offering the kind of production value that Expect does with virtual environments.
While I would have enjoyed the opportunity to think my way out of an electric chair suspended over a pit full of acid-spewing buzzsaws, I Expect You To Die can’t be judged too harshly for only being an incredible puzzle room VR experience. Every one of the four levels is delightful and inventive, offering multiple ways to solve most problems and reacting logically to out-of-the-box ideas. It may be on the short side, but Expect‘s wit and ability to engage players more than earns it a place on the must-play PSVR list.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Schell Games. It is currently available on PSVR and Oculus Rift. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PSVR. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 and contains Fantasy Violence, Alcohol Reference, and Use of Tobacco . If you child is old enough to wear the VR headset, they’re old enough to play this game. It’s Bond without any lascivious content, just traps and puzzles and a single bad guy to shoot. The most questionable thing are the souvenirs (the game’s collectibles) which are unlocked unlocked for smoking a cigar and drinking some champagne.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Sadly, the game is essentially unplayable if you’re hard of hearing. Not only are there important audio cues without visual indicators, but there are no subtitles — you’ll miss out on important mission directions.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options, which may be as problem, since one of the puzzles revolves around differentiating between different colored chemicals.