I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and The Liar — a brain-stimulating, VR spy-themed game — really lives up to its name. If a superstar invited you on his private plane and offered you dessert from a world-renowned chef, would you turn it down? Of course, not! You’d gladly gobble it up. But in IEYTD2, that kind of overly trusting behavior will get you killed — enjoy that poisonous chocolate cake!
The original, massively successful game (I Expect You to Die made a whopping $6 million in revenue) may have launched five years ago, but once you put your headset on for the sequel, you’ll be quickly reminded that the IEYTD world is an unkind one. No one is who they say they are, your tongue-and-cheek chief handler is a self-centered schmuck, and there are deadly booby traps set up everywhere to rip your head off. But that's what makes the IEYTD series so endearing — it challenges you to outsmart a world that wants you dead.
Many would call IETYD2 a puzzle title, but that categorization doesn’t do it justice because it paints the game as some sort of boring, mind-numbing tedium that leaves you more frustrated than entertained. Au contraire, IETYD2 is more like an exhilarating escape room simulator, but you get to step into the shoes of a James Bond-esque secret agent. You must be resourceful and use your surroundings to solve mysteries before evading highly trained assassins, murderous security systems and flying grenades.
Schell Games, the developer behind the IEYTD series, granted me access to the first three missions of the new sequel. Stick around and find out why I foresee an abundance of five-star reviews for IEYTD2, set to launch on August 28 on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and SteamVR. Quest and PSVR users can snag a 10% discount by pre-ordering now.
I Expect You to Die 2 has killer opening credits like the original
The original I Expect You to Die wowed fans with its jazzy, Broadway-esque opening credits with stunning negative-space animation whirling around you in VR. Sure, some villainous woman with a velvety voice is singing about how much she wants you to die, but you can’t help but snap your fingers to the jazzy beat.
Every spy needs a little pomp and circumstance with stellar opening credits à la Austin Powers. That being said, IETYD2 continues the tradition, propelling its VR gamers into a brand-spankin’ new intro that’s just as riveting as the first. This time, the jazzy number is sung by America’s Got Talent favorite Puddles Pity Party, the sad clown with the golden voice.
If you’re a Big Bang Theory fan, you may recognize another familiar voice: Wil Wheaton plays John Juniper, a vainglorious, superstar actor.
I Expect You to Die 2’s wide-ranging controls
I’ve played many VR games on the Oculus Quest 2 like Superhot, Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer and The Climb, but they don’t make use of all that the Quest 2 has to offer.
IETYD2 takes full advantage of the Quest 2’s features, which makes the world incredibly interactive. I’ve used the controllers’ triggers to summon objects into my hands, tapped on the “B” button to make objects hover in mid-air, squeezed the grip buttons to yank corks off wine bottles (hey, some missions get stressful!), and much more.
To paint an accurate picture of how interactive IEYTD2 is, let me tell you about the surveillance van: the "home base" of the game. There, you can rotate the dial on a nearby antique radio by twisting your wrist; you can listen to an interview with John Juniper, jam out to some music, or tune into a news program. With the flick of a lever, you can turn off the radio if you prefer to sit in silence.
There’s also a mini-fridge you can open using the grip button, and an orange, sandwich and donut that you can eat by gripping them and bringing the controller up to your mouth — watch it disappear as you munch the in-game food. Even the action of opening a champagne bottle feels real and intuitive; grab the VR bottle with your right controller and pull the cork with your left controller. Next, place the bottle down on the table and grab a wine glass. Finally, you’ll need to pick up the wine bottle again and tilt the controller ever-so-slightly so that you can pour yourself a well-deserved drink.
There’s even an old-school hat rack with a bunch of cool headgear you can try on by grabbing them with the grip buttons and touching your head. Nearby drawers can be opened just like you’d open them in real life: by gripping the handle and pulling it toward your body. When you’re ready to start a new mission, you simply grab a cassette tape and insert it into its slot — and you’ll appear in a new, fascinating locale that’s just as interactive as the spy van. I’ve never felt so free in a VR game! It’s so satisfying to be in a simulated world that’s almost as responsive as reality.
I Expect You to Die 2 missions are designed for brainiacs with quick reflexes
IEYTD2 picks up right after the end of the first game, taking players on a journey to thwart the world-domination plans of Zoraxis, a nefarious global weapons and pharmaceutical corporation. This time, however, celebrity extraordinaire John Juniper is thrown into the mix, and it looks like he’s also up to no good.
In the first mission, I was disguised as a theatre technician, working backstage for one of JJ’s spectacular shows.
I was in charge of the sound and given a script that informed me of which lines of the play required me to cue the sound of a bell tolling and other effects. However, things took an unexpected turn as a gigantic mask descended onto the stage to release a toxic, lethal gas. Of course, it’s up to me to think fast and figure out a way to impede the gas from poisoning everyone. I had to be resourceful and pluck tools from my surroundings to quickly save the day.
The danger doesn’t stop there. Highly trained assassins spotted me thwarting their wicked plans and tried to kill me without warning! At this point, I had to employ my quick reflexes to dodge poisonous darts and hand grenades while also using the backstage knicknacks to my advantage.
The second mission is my favorite. I was a passenger on JJ’s luxurious private plane, but you can’t trust a damn thing on it. Let’s just say the chef makes a killer chocolate cake and the cigars have an explosive taste. There’s also plenty of booby traps that can cause sudden death if you’re not careful, but if you can think quickly on your feet and solve the brain-stimulating puzzles, you can escape that flying metal death trap in no time.
In spy movies, you’ll often come across a plotline in which a secret agent is equipped with an earpiece and camera, and a sidekick remotely guides him through a dangerous mission. This is what the second mission entailed; I had to listen carefully as my snarky handler gave me directions on how to get out of a sticky situation in which, if I made one wrong move, the plane would explode with me in it.
The third mission is equally as exhilarating as the other two. Here, you’ll get to descend into a villain’s lair, and of course, it’s populated with green laser grids to keep intruders (like you) at bay. Once you’ve figured out how to disable the security system, you have to use your noggin to figure out how to unlock various items in the room.
The manual dexterity required for this mission is thrilling. I felt like I was in Rush Hour, making sure that I snipped the right cables to disable a time bomb.
If there’s anything that IEYTD2 taught me, it’s that I’m not cut out to be a spy — I’ve died by eating poisoned dessert, I've failed to dodge lethal darts and I blew my own head off after smoking a cigar rigged with an explosive. James Bond would never!
That being said, this game is aptly named. You will die many, many times. Unless you’re a psychic, you won’t be able to foresee the axe that suddenly swings from the ceiling nor the murderous sofa that will light you on fire. However, through trial and error, you’ll eventually get through each mission without suffering a painful death.
IEYTD2, by and large, is a brain-stimulating escape room simulator. There were times I got frustrated because I had no clue how to progress through a mission. You can’t turn on any hints to point you in the right direction. It would also be nice if I could check what my mission objectives are, but alas, the game simply expects you to explore your environment and figure it out on your own damn self. However, once it clicks, you’ll likely throw your hands in the air and yell, “Are you kidding me? It was right under my nose!” The puzzles are challenging, but they never seem unfair.
I typically hate puzzle games, but IEYTD2 is an exception. This game is the best VR title I’ve ever played.