When Schell Games launched I Expect You to Die back in 2016 it perfectly showcased immersive virtual reality (VR) puzzle-solving on PlayStation VR. It was a time where locomotion in VR was being wrestled with, so having a completely stationary escape room experience worked extremely well, especially where newcomers were concerned. Ports to other platforms have been equally successful meaning there’s plenty of excitement around the sequel. I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar is due for release soon but can it maintain that puzzle magic five years on?
While you don’t need to have played the original when it comes to the gameplay elements the story does continue directly on. You play a secret agent tasked with foiling the plans of the villainous Dr. Zor and his Zoraxis organisation, intent as always on worldwide domination. The challenge is to stop him in his tracks across six new missions, all filled with ingenious puzzles and traps to kill you.
I Expect You to Die made no attempt to hide its James Bond inspiration and the sequel equally exudes all the pomp and grandeur you’d hope for with an epic introduction sung by Puddles Pity Party. Honestly, don’t skip the intro as it’s quite epic, really setting the scene for what’s to come. So few VR videogames add that sense of occasion to their introductions, loading straight into a menu or hub area, that I Expect You to Die 2 truly builds a sense of excitement.
Schell Games hasn’t messed around with the core DNA either, still maintaining that cheeky, tongue-in-cheek humour that gives the title much of its charm. Whether it’s your handler giving out oh-so-useful nuggets of information to the actual puzzles themselves, the production is still top-notch. Especially considering one of the central characters, world-famous actor and celebrity John Juniper is voiced by Wil Wheaton – of Big Bang Theory and Star Trek: Next Generation fame – who does a sterling job in the role.
Of course, I Expect You to Die 2 can’t survive on strong theatrics alone, it needs some engaging gameplay to balance the experience out. Without revealing too much regarding puzzle specifics, I Expect You to Die 2 maintains that deliciously fun interaction with plenty of items to pick up and play around with. Some useful, some not, it’s all about treading carefully and methodically because as the levels progress more and more booby traps seem to appear.
For instance, whilst trying to delicately remove one item from a cupboard a precariously placed bottle of wine was knocked onto the floor. Unfortunately, this bottle was filled with deadly gas and death instantly occurred. That’s part of the joy of I Expect You to Die 2, there’s a vein of maniacal humour running through it, where one wrong move results in your demise. Thus you return over and over to find that perfect path through.
All while comfortably seated, by the way. More and more VR games are getting bigger and grander where you can run around big open worlds yet there’s a simple joy in I Expect You to Die 2 like you’ve been given a puzzle box to solve. Everything is either physically nearby or within easy reach thanks to a telekinesis ability, making I Expect You to Die 2 easily accessible to the majority of players.
From what VRFocus has seen so far I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar continues to do the series justice, with its pickup and play mechanics and amusing spy-caper antics. Still great for VR first-timers, six missions may not seem like much but there are plenty of tricky secondary challenges for puzzle veterans ensuring a good few hours of gameplay. There’s only a month to wait until launch and don’t forget the Steam demo is still available.