The original I Expect You To Die was one of those must play virtual reality (VR) titles, showcasing in 2016 a delightful combination of wit and diabolical puzzles that any VR-newbie would feel comfortable playing. Fast forward five years and the immersive gaming landscape has certainly changed but Schell Games’ concept of an approachable escape room experience has remained true. And so it’s time to save the world again from the evil Dr. Zor in I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar.
As VR videogames have inevitably expanded in scope and freedom the adjustment curve for new players has increased in turn, whether that’s building up those “VR legs” to run around environments or adding a great selection of controls. Whilst there are new features, at its heart Schell Games’ latest doesn’t really care about any of that, keeping the general gameplay simplicity the series is known for, whilst providing some ingenious puzzles that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond or Bourne movie.
Because that’s essentially what you’re in. There’s an unseen villain, his seemingly unstoppable evil organisation intent on world domination, a collection of stooges and, of course, you. The suave, sophisticated agent tasked with bringing the operation to its knees. This all means I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar has just the right level of pageantry, humour and theatrics to pull off this cheeky caper without descending into Austin Powers territory.
You don’t need to have played the original even though this is a direct sequel – although it can’t hurt – as a little catch up is there to fill in the blanks. Even so, I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar can still be appreciated in its own right as there’s plenty of sleuthing to be had.
There are only six levels which don’t sound like a great deal but each is its own little microcosm of hidden items and interconnecting challenges, each more intricate than the last. And just like before there’s absolutely no locomotion, you remain seated in the same location throughout, the only twist to this being the last level inside an elevator. So with no movement to worry about I Expect You To Die 2 has a telekinesis mechanic to pick up distant objects that can either save the day or kill you.
And die you will, most likely fairly often in fact. I Expect You To Die 2 isn’t all trial and error but there is an element of that, where pulling a drawer will unleash death or that tasty looking sandwich on the food cart seems to house a very dangerous resident; you’ll not get out alive, to begin with. The levels aren’t timed per se, so you can carefully mooch around to avoid a messy end. Yet, it’s not at all bothersome. It is actually quite fun finding all the various traps and machinations hiding just under the surface. What will likely frustrate is the complete lack of hints, there really is no hand-holding here and therefore getting stuck can crop up. Clues do surface if you can find them, just don’t expect them to drop on your lap.
Much like games such as Vacation Simulator, I Expect You To Die 2 weaves far more into the experience than you’d have initially thought. Sure you can solely focus on the challenge at hand and blast through the whole game in a couple of hours or less. But you’d miss chunks of well-placed humour and other little activities. Both of these play important roles within I Expect You To Die 2, the former adding charm and life to the experience whilst the latter much-needed depth.
Completing a level is only the start of the challenge as you then be presented with a list of smaller – sometimes much more difficult – tasks to complete, like trying to speed run the level, finding particular objects or solving a puzzle in a particular way. Sure, it’s regurgitating the same levels over and over again but a least the whole thing isn’t over in a couple of hours.
And let’s not forget about the whole theatrics of I Expect You To Die 2. As expected from Schell Games production quality is top-notch, with Wil Wheaton superbly stepping into the role of world-famous actor and celebrity John Juniper. The same must be said about the epic introduction sung by Puddles Pity Party, it really does set the whole experience up, putting most other VR videogame intros to shame.
I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar hasn’t come to reinvent the wheel and it didn’t need to, what was required was achieved; an entertaining puzzler that you can’t put down. An extra couple of levels would’ve been nice with the possibility of a handy nudge in the right direction yet they’re only minor quibbles. If you’re looking for a VR puzzler that really pushes the technology then this isn’t it, I Expect You To Die 2 is all about playing to the masses and that’s no bad thing either.