Stirred but not Shaken.
In all the experiences that I have ever wanted to have on a VR platform, stepping into the shoes of a telepathic 1960s James Bond is right up there. Initially released in 2016, this is a review of the “full” experience as it has been updated with new levels which have definitely elevated the experience.
In essence, it’s an escape room-esque game with some Sean Connery drizzling and it is absolutely brilliant. There’s even an intro music video in pure Bond fashion, that in VR is dazzling. Whilst some VR will have you accidentally destroying your living room and jumping over your cat, this is a fully seated game, which I very much appreciate. To make this work you employ telepathy so that you can pull objects towards you that may or may not be helpful in your attempt at escape. Spread over 7 levels in increasingly difficulty, the whole package is a great little puzzler that will keep you thinking for a solid 4-6 hours (possibly more if, like me, thinking is not your strong suit).
the contextual comedy and events that can happen in your playthrough are some of my favourites of recent memory.
The situations that you find yourself in are so laughable that it couldn’t be anything else but charming. For example, in the first level you are strapped to the seat of a car that is, for whatever reason, being transported via a moving aircraft flying at 30,000 feet. Your mission is simple: Get the car out of the plane. Out of all the levels, this one is the simplest and through my tried and tested method of Trial and Error is surprisingly simple to solve. But its merely a taster of things to come. You’ll be disabling missiles, escaping from a submarine escape and even going to space before you know it.
While there isn’t much in the way of story (all you know is that you work for “The Agency”) you know you’re hunting for Dr Zor, ably helped by the ever present “Q” who will drop hints every now and again, as well as provide quippy one liners. That’s pretty much all of the interactions you will have with the outside world other than what you see in front you. However, the contextual comedy and events that can happen in your playthrough are some of my favourites of recent memory.
For example, in one of the more difficult levels, you are tasked with infiltrating a lab whilst masquerading as a window washer. At some point down the line you are told of a sniper looking out for something suspicious – as you see the laser sight mover ever closer, what do you do? Pick up your pistol and attempt to take him down at 300 yards? Use something nearby to deflect the bullet? All are possible. Whether that works or not remains to be seen. Or you can do what I did and pick up a sponge and window spray and pretend like nothing was wrong. Despite attempting to clean a clearly broken window, it worked. Watching the laser pass either side of my face was both exhilarating and hilarious.
This is just the tip of the reasonably priced iceberg, as of the time of writing you can pick this up on steam for £18.99, and it is worth it for the levels and atmosphere alone. It’s something that is wholly unique and I desperately hope there is a sequel or more DLC at some point in the future. However with good there must, inevitably, be bad.
My one major gripe with I Expect You To Die is replayability. As great and engaging as the levels are, there aren’t multiple ways of solving a level outright. On a few occasions, you are allowed to complete a task slightly differently, but for the major tasks there is only ever one solution. So once you know how to solve the level, you aren’t given a reason to return.
This is why I began this review by naming it an “experience” as wanky as that is, because it can only really be thoroughly enjoyed on the first playthrough and fondly remembered after the fact. Like when VR was first making its case for entertainment and you had to sit through a rendered copy of the Louvre and it blew your mind, but having to do it again made you realise how stunted and limiting it was all along.