Schell Games’ I Expect You To Die series is a very rare breed in VR. Not only has the franchise survived several hardware generations, but it has also got better with age. The original was funny, tense and inventive, making for an almost perfect escape room experience in VR. Now in its third instalment, somehow, Schell Games continues to make the quintessential VR escape room. As XR Source finds in its Meta Quest 2 review, I Expect You To Die 3: A Cog in the Machine is as much of a mystery as the world-ending event you’re trying to thwart.
Firstly, you don’t need to worry about playing the previous games if you haven’t already – you should, they are good. Just like classic James Bond movies, its narrative is self-contained but the characters do roll over. So if you have played the original or the second instalment you’ll be instantly at home. Once again, you’re in the role of Agent Phoenix, the best Agency operative in the world. And, again, it’s the villainous Dr.Zor who’s vying for world domination. This time around you’ve got Dr. Roxana Prism, scientist and former Agency inventor, and her robots to deal with.
The name’s Phoenix, Agent Phoenix…
Schell Games knows not to tamper with a winning formula so I Expect You To Die 3 doesn’t pull too many surprises. It remains a seated experience throughout, with Agent Phoenix having telekinetic abilities to grasp and manipulate objects at range. And there’s plenty to interact with.
As you’d expect from an escape room-style game, each level is filled with hidden compartments and small details you’d miss on the first inspection. Almost like a magician plying their trade, it’s easy to miss what’s going on in front of you because you’re looking elsewhere. And that can get you easily killed. This isn’t great because no matter how far through a level you are, death means replaying it all over again.
Normally, at this point, you might try and take your time to inspect your surroundings. As is so often the case in the franchise, one innocent move and you could be filled the room with poison gas, or find a laser being fired at your face. However, these challenges are never too overbearing or bewildering to figure out, there’s a method in the villain’s madness. You are in a giant play set, some of which is very deadly whilst the rest can be humorous.
A lot of the lighter elements in I Expect You To Die 3 come from your handler, with a quintessential English voice. He’ll give you hints along the way or merely point out your failings. You can’t talk, of course, so he’ll fill the occasional silence by telling you you need to speed up or not die – notice the theme?
All the death and humour aside, I Expect You To Die 3 brilliance is its puzzle variety and complexity. Most of the solutions are easily deciphered once you figure out the gameplay mechanics. You’ll see and indent and know it needs something, or find a leaflet with some hand-drawn scribbles that point you in the right direction. I did find that each level had one slightly obscure solution, spiking the difficulty from out of nowhere.
I Expect You To Die 3: A Cog in the Machine only has six levels, which, by any standards, doesn’t seem like much. But that’s common for the franchise. What Schell Games does so well is include numerous side challenges that test speed and observation. For instance, every area has three additional challenges to do with how you interact with the level. Then there’s the time challenge as well as finding the Robot Statue and the Phantom Medal. The statue tends to be tucked away within the environment. But the medal, that’s far more elusive and key to a much larger puzzle. These extra additions can easily double the playtime.
I Expect You To Die 3 Review Summary
I Expect You To Die 3: A Cog in the Machine continues a tradition that we don’t want to see end. Its witty satire offers moments of levity even when some of the more obscure solutions cause frustration. Most of that frustration is aimed towards having to redo the entire level because you made one slight mistake that killed you. Aside from that, I Expect You To Die 3 is an entertaining spy caper that’s just difficult enough to slow down even the best puzzle solvers. Additionally, the side challenges and puzzles provide a decent amount of replayability and value for your cash. I Expect You To Die 3 might not be a huge sprawling VR game but we love it nonetheless.