Pittsburgh’s own Schell Games developed “I Expect You to Die,” a recently released virtual reality game available for Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. It’s a puzzle game set in the style of a ’60s-era spy drama worthy of James Bond himself.
Virtual reality is still in its infancy. Developers of games for the major platforms are all still trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t and what breaks new ground for the player who straps on the headset and is transported into a new world. “I Expect You to Die” solves plenty of the problems that plague typical VR experiences while crafting a truly head-scratching puzzle experience.
The game places the user in several situations where an international spy may find himself or herself — in a submarine, a car inside an airplane or in a chemical lab while trying to stop a massive warhead from detonating. The puzzle genre is where VR shines brightest. Players can reach out and interact with nearly every object in the missions. It takes carefully inspecting each object closely to figure out what needs to be done to complete the mission.
The game solves the problem of not being able to fully move around inside virtual reality by giving the agent a “telekinesis implant.” This means that the player can bring objects closer from far away without walking toward them and tripping over objects in the actual physical space. “I Expect You to Die” is designed to be played while sitting, and the telekinesis solves a big flaw of VR.
Like real-life puzzles, “I Expect You to Die” calls upon trial and error. Trying some solutions, such as mixing two unstable chemicals in a lab, will get you killed. The player then takes that knowledge into the next life and tries to find a solution. Problems arise when the player gets late into a chapter and makes a mistake that results in death. The game resets back to the beginning of the puzzle, and you’ll have to complete all the tasks that you already know how to do to get to the later stages of the level. This can get tiresome in the later, more involved puzzle missions.
This review was played on PlayStation VR, which is the least powerful option compared with the Oculus Rift. PSVR was up to the challenge and provided a smooth experience. Even the Move motion controllers worked well for most of the time. The camera and head tracking got confused a few times when the Move controller blocked the camera’s view of the headset, but it was mostly smooth sailing from beginning to end.
“I Expect You to Die” can be downloaded for $25. Players looking for a fresh and challenging VR experience will certainly get their money’s worth. VR always needs a killer app to show off to newcomers to the medium. “I Expect You to Die” is that new marquis title for VR.