Why do we love secret agent movies? Usually it’s a combination of action and suspense. The big and bombastic scenes are made even more exciting when the main characters find themselves in a terrifying situation where they must escape or die trying. It’s good fun, and one of the reason movies like James Bond have been so popular.
I Expect You To Die is a PlayStation VR game that distills the appeal of secret agent films into playable levels where you find yourself in the thick of a deadly situation with only your wits to help you escape. Does it do justice to the films it was inspired by, or is this agent’s cover blown? Time to find out!
Style and Humor: Shaken, Not Stirred
I Expect You To Die makes an incredible first impression with its opening credits. Immediately, you’re treated to a stylistic introduction that plays out exactly like the opening of a classic Bond film. Silhouettes of men and women dance around you as the camera pans through a variety of classic situations like missile launches and gun fights.
Meanwhile, you’re treated to an incredible song based on the game’s title that would fit perfectly in any modern secret agent film. It’s clear the developers have a love for the genre, and experiencing this type of cinematic opening is even more exciting in VR when it’s happening all around you.
When I was finished with the opening, I was pumped to get into the game. You have a small office that acts as your hub between missions. Your contact is a lovely British gentlemen who makes jokes throughout the game that are always worth a chuckle. His quips about the dry martini budget made me grin.
Something we should talk about right off the bat is the game’s length. There are four missions in total, with brief trips back to your office between each one. At a standard $30 price point, this may sound like a deal breaker, but don’t write this game off just yet.
Each of the four levels are incredibly unique in both their setting and execution. You won’t feel even a smidge of repetition as you play through the game. Even the puzzles themselves involve very different tactics and execution.
So, while it’s only four levels, it’s four very detailed, very polished, and very cunning levels. You can tell a lot of work went into each one. I played through the game with my “player 2” as I like to call her (her real name’s Christina), and she’s a puzzle expert.
She handedly finished the first level pretty quick, but the difficulty in I Expect You To Die spikes upward as you go on. From the second level on, even her expertise was pushed to the limit. In many of the levels, timing is key, and one wrong move can spell doom.
So yes, you will die. A lack of checkpoints in the levels means you’ll also go back to the beginning each time. This can be frustrating when your skills are pushed to the limit and a lack of reflex brings you back to the beginning.
We played through I Expect You To Die in a single sitting, but it easily took us about four hours total. We also missed several hidden collectibles and easter egg moments that you can trigger in the levels. There’s also speed run times you can shoot for, so there are reasons to come back.
I could see this being a fun game to play with friends who enjoy intense puzzles or secret agent movies in general as it nails the look and feel of classic films set in the 60-70’s era. While the number of levels is lower than most would like, this is a case of quality over quantity.
The Name’s Move, PlayStation Move
One of the first things PlayStation VR fans ask, is if a game is compatible with the PlayStation Move controllers. If so, the second question they ask, is how well the tracking works. The answers here are yes, and amazing, respectively.
You can play I Expect You To Die with the DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move, but I vastly preferred the motion option. You’ll run into a few instances of wonky tracking, but when push came to shove, Schell Games proved to me that the Move is more than capable of motion tracking when put in the right hands.
To solve the problem of PSVR’s limited movement range, your character is also equipped with a telekinesis implant. In short, items that are outside your reach can be picked up, used, moved, and even hovered in mid-air.
This was an ingenious decision on the developer’s part, because it vastly reduces situations where you have to reach too far and break the immersion by going beyond the PlayStation Camera’s view. The only tracking issues I encountered were moments where I would reach down to pick up something (instead of using the telekinesis) and my in-game hands would momentarily freak out.
That being said, when it came to the last two levels and things got very, very intense, the tracking never faltered. Grabbing, pulling, shaking, turning, everything you could imagine was happening in quick succession just to prevent my untimely demise and not once did the game buckle or show any signs of breaking a sweat.
The puzzles themselves often take an approach where there’s a domino effect of sorts. You’ll have plenty of time to collect your thoughts, but oftentimes one action will lead to another, and another, and in those gameplay loop you’ll need to think on your feet or face a game over screen.
Those who are easily frustrated or gamers who don’t like trial and error will probably get very angry with I Expect You To Die. For the die hard puzzle fans and lovers of extremely well-crafted VR experiences, you won’t find anything that plays much better than this.
So again, we come back to the only negative point I have here, and that’s the four levels offered for the $30 price point. Depending on how quickly you play through it, this can be a high price of entry, but I would argue that the sheer quality of the experience and the unique look and feel of the levels justify the low number.
If we could get some reasonably priced DLC with more levels, this issue could easily be remedied. For example, if we got up to, say, 10 levels for a total of $50 or $60, people would probably be more easily swayed by the value proposition.
That being said, I really must stress that the quality is here. These levels are lovingly crafted and incredibly well designed. As a standard 2D experience, it’s impressive on its own merits. As a PlayStation VR title, it’s one of the most impressive combinations of style, design, and puzzle-focused gameplay.
Do I Expect You To Buy?
I Expect You To Die oozes charm and authenticity to the inspiration it draws from. Even the title is a reference to a quote from bond villain Goldfinger.
While somewhat short at 4 levels, and a little high on the price point, every aspect of the this game is lovingly crafted and perfectly designed. Combine this with the best Move tracking I’ve seen to date on PSVR, and you have one heck of an experience.
They may expect you to die, dear player, but I expect you to have a lot of fun.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A Copy of I Expect You To Die Was Provided to PS4 Experts for Review Purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 12/13/16