Who doesn’t want to be James Bond? In his unending pursuit to rid the world of evil, 007 gets to play with fancy gadgets, wine and dine beautiful women, and drive exotic cars across some of the most picturesque places the world has to offer. Granted, such fun is built upon the expectations of violent shootouts and near death experiences, but who can pass up such glamour? Through the magic of the PlayStation VR, I Expect You To Die provides a close approximate replication of James Bond’s (or Sterling Archer’s) world saving proclivities, only without the booze and women.
I Expect You To Die is comprised of a series of puzzle room-like scenarios. The mechanics of each mission get more elaborate and complex as the game goes on, upping the complexity and delightfully throwing curve balls to test your mettle and quick thinking. As an example, an early level has you saving the world by stopping a deadly bioweapon from being dispersed into the air. Given little information on how to develop a viral neutralizer, you’ll search the playspace looking for hints and clues on how to craft a world-saving concoction. In the process, you’ll have to disarm a laser grid security system, fool a guard, and deal with a last minute plot twist that determines how much you’ve been paying attention.
Picking up items, turning switches, and mixing chemicals is done using two PlayStation Move controllers (one for each hand). A “telekenesis” mechanics makes grabbing and placing objects from a distance a pretty easy feat. What’s interesting about the game (and VR as a whole) is how much freedom two hands give you in playing the game. Unlike, say, Octodad, video games don’t have much of a reason to give players free control of the character’s hands. And why would they? You don’t need to control John Marston’s hands in a shootout, nor do you need to work a series of elaborate button presses to fire a gun in Call of Duty. The point I’m trying to make is that I love how I Expect You To Die gives you the freedom to work through puzzles using both hands. It’s a weird sentiment, but every time I realized I could use both hands to work a puzzle I was amazed at how dramatically it increases efficiency, which is perfect for a game of this type.
Speaking to its namesake, there are numerous ways to die in the game. Mix the wrong chemicals, fail to prevent oxygen being vented from a submersible, or get yourself blown up will end the game. This is where I Expect You To Die puts a strain on a promising relationship. No matter how close to the end of the mission you get, death always takes you back to the beginning of the level. This can get annoying, especially if failure is more of a result of janky tech (I had a play session where the PlayStation camera had some difficulty tracking the Move controllers). Because you’re only given a vague idea of what needs to be done to finish a mission, sequence memorization and trial and error are required methods of play. This can be fun at times, as poking, pulling, and pushing things to see how they respond and react is useful in determining the puzzle’s big picture. It’s also fun just to throw stuff around and seeing what happens. Throw money out the window and people will cheer. Open a champagne bottle and you’ll be chided for celebrating early. Only by thoroughly exploring each place space will you earn “souvenirs,” collectibles that appear in the game’s hub.
I Expect You To Die is a fun jaunt into the world of megalomaniacal super villains and the spies trained to stop them. It has charm, a great sense of humor, and would do well with fans of James Bond and Archer. The puzzles themselves are delightfully elaborate and fun to work through, though I did experience my fair share of impatience at having to restart entire missions because of goof ups that were out of my control. The VR experience is mostly great, though make sure your setup is calibrated and at the right distance from the camera for best results. I Expect You To Die does right by PlayStation VR owners looking for something to play by themselves or with friends.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.