'I Expect You to Die 3' continues to impress, but keep the kids at bay. You'll be cursing up a storm with this game.
Disguise mechanics are fun
More action-packed scenes
Brain-stimulating problem solving
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Wee-woo-wee-woo! This is not a drill! I Expect You to Die 3, the third installment of Schell Games’ award-winning spy-themed series, is a danger to your VR headset and controllers. Unless you have the equanimity of the Dalai Lama, this game will drive you up the wall — and your fists may go through it, too.
I don’t know how my Meta Quest 2 is still intact, but I’ve played the first three missions of IEYTD3 and I was this close to snapping it in two. I have three more missions ahead of me, though, so it’s only a matter of time before my headset’s guts are splattered all over the living room floor.
Despite crying tears of frustration and darn-near losing my sanity, I freakin’ love I Expect You to Die 3 so far. For the time being, I can only discuss the first three missions, but it’s been a wild, brain-warping ride that I’m not ready to hop off just yet. It may seem like my tone has taken a total 180-degree turn from the outset, but to put it succinctly, the high you get from successfully completing these brain-teasing missions makes all the hair pulling, top-of-your-lungs cursing, and tears all worth it in the end.
'I Expect You to Die' continues to roll out bangers for the opening credits
How can you be an international spy without a haunting, foreboding ballad that introduces you as a secret agent with treacherous missions ahead of you? James Bond had his suspenseful opening credits in No Time to Die with Billie Eilish lending her vocals, so why can’t you?
For the uninitiated, the I Expect You to Die series is known for unleashing divine-sounding, spine-tingling opening credits for every game — and I Expect You to Die 3 is no different. I can show you the intro on YouTube here, but trust me, it doesn’t do it justice. With my Meta Quest 2 headset strapped on, there’s an indescribable level of immersion in which it feels like the towering singing villain is toying with me like I’m a helpless marionette. A scrap metal shredder appears out of nowhere, demolishing coffins without mercy — as if to say “you’re next!” I’m then thrown in the middle of a machine with terrifying weaponry spinning all around me, from a menacing drill to a dangerous angle grinder, and they’re all too close for comfort.
All of this hazardous madness is juxtaposed beautifully with the powerful, evocative and melancholy vocals of Haley Reinhart: a singer, songwriter, actress, and American Idol alum. The animation, however, is too rudimentary for my tastes; it has the art style of the VR game Pistol Whip. On the plus side, the crude imagery gives you an idea of what to expect from the game moving forward — a formidable, robot-loving enemy who has a huge chip on her shoulder. Dun, dun, dun!
3 things I love about I Expect You to Die 3 so far
When someone first described the I Expect You to Die series as a VR puzzle game that mimics an escape-room experience, I cringed. I was ready to give up on the game before even giving it a fair shot. I’m not the biggest fan of puzzles, especially if they don’t have some element of action and adventure mixed in.
Fortunately, I Expect You to Die 3 has an alluring blend of brain-stimulating puzzles as well as action scenes with laser-beaming robots, highway car chases, and explosions.
As a cherry on top, there is a supernatural element, too, as you can make objects levitate — and move them around wherever you please — with your telekinesis powers. None of these aspects are new, but they never get old because you’re plopped into new environments while interacting with novel objects.
When you’re dropped into your first mission, you’re told that you need to access the computer of Dr. Roxana, the newest villain in the series, but there’s little to no direction on how to find it. There are clues on how to progress, but they’re very subtle. This is not a game that will allow you to pause, ask for a hint, and then illuminate an object to pivot you toward the right direction. Your only option is to look around your environment and channel your inner Sherlock Holmes.
I can’t give you too many details, but to demonstrate how buried these clues can be, let me describe an IEYTD3-esque mission. Let’s say you’re inside a villain’s lair and you’ve stumbled upon an eye-scanning lock on a door. It says, “Access denied.” You need to somehow unlock this door, but how? A portrait of the villain will be planted somewhere in a difficult-to-find part of your surroundings (likely deep inside a closet). You’re excited, so you hurriedly hold the photo to the eye scanner, but nope, “Access denied” again! Darn, what are you missing? As it turns out, you need to find a magnifying glass to hold over the pictured eye so the scanner can properly “see” it. However, it’ll likely take you 30 minutes, if not longer, before you figure this out.
When you finally place the magnified “eye” to the scanner — kaboom! — you explode into tiny bits and pieces. As it turns out, there’s a booby trap that killed you and you need to disable it before you can successfully bypass the eye scanner.
That is a typical I Expect You to Die 3 mission. Just when you think you’ve got it, something goes awry. Although this can be maddening, the lack of handholding is fulfilling. You get to say, “Heck yes! I solved this all by myself — with no help.”
Disguises continue to be delightful
So far, I Expect You to Die 2 still has my heart when it comes to disguise missions, but I Expect You to Die 3 continues this tradition and it’s a riot. In the last game, I got to disguise myself as a stage manager to thwart an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister. If you don’t disguise yourself properly during this mission, your identity as a spy will be revealed and you’ll get killed without question. Same goes for one of the first three missions in I Expect You to Die 3, but admittedly, I Expect You to Die 2 was slightly more entertaining with its disguise mechanics.
Real-life spies have to masquerade as someone else all the time — all while pretending to possess skills and talents the person has too, which is risky. In the same way, the third installment has you convincing the NPCs in the game that you are who you say you are by acting as if you’re a veteran at your job. In other words, you’re a “n00b” in sheep’s clothing and there’s no room to screw up. I found this aspect of the game to be suspenseful; it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat for sure.
My jaw dropped when I found myself in a car, in the middle of a highway, chasing after a villain zipping down the road inside a massive truck. Now this is the action I was looking for.
Every good spy film has some action-filled scene with wild car chases, ear-deafening explosions, and risky parkour maneuvers. Now, I didn’t get to practice any parkour in I Expect You to Die 3, but I did find myself going under another vehicle at one point, which was exhilarating. On top of that, my car has a built-in grappling hook, and boy did I have a lot of fun with that, too.
3 things I dislike about I Expect You to Die 3 so far
I’ve been playing on the pre-release version of I Expect You to Die 3, so there’s bound to be a few snafus here and there.
1. On rare occasion, objects would disappear
You’ll always need to interact with tools, weapons, and other objects in I Expect You to Die 3 to facilitate your missions as a spy. Once in a blue moon, something I really need would suddenly disappear into the environment. However, as mentioned, I’ve been playing on the pre-release version of I Expect You to Die 3, so this minor inconvenience should be resolved by launch.
2. Interacting with certain objects can be tricky
Sometimes, holding an object vertically or horizontally can be the difference between life or death, particularly if you’re using it to block enemy fire. In some cases, I found that objects don’t behave as intended. Turning knobs, for example, doesn’t feel as natural as expected. During timed missions, this can be very frustrating.
3. No checkpoints
This is the reason why I Expect You to Die 3 will cause an uptick in gamer rage all around the world. Imagine finally unlocking a door that required you to solve a sliding tile puzzle that took you 15 minutes to complete. Suddenly, without warning, a robot jumps on you, attacks, and now you’re dead. Do you get to restart the game from a point after you solved the sliding-tile puzzle? Nope! You have to do it all over again — from the very beginning.
Chances are, you’ll do it again, solve the sliding-tile puzzle, dodge the robot, and get to the final stretch. You’re this close to victory. But unfortunately, you make one wrong move and you die. Gah!
Are you awarded a checkpoint then? Nope! Once again, you have to start from the very beginning and run through all the same puzzles. At this point, it feels like you’re walking on eggshells because you can’t bear the thought of starting over again. But remember, this is the third installment of I Expect You to Die 3. Of course you’re going to perish — over and over and over again. For the sake of my sanity, I wish the developers added checkpoints.
I Expect You to Die 3 is set to launch on Aug. 17, 2023 for Meta Quest owners, but SteamVR players will have to wait a little while longer (Sept. 28, 2023).
You’ll have to shell out $24.99 for this game, but if you pre-order it now, this title is only $22.49. Personally, I’d snag this game even if it was twice the price. What makes I Expect You to Die 3 endearing is that there are different ways to meet your objectives, adding to its replayability factor. You can use different objects to block enemy fire, use new weapons to kill your opponents, and experiment with novel ways to accomplish your missions.
This game is so frustrating, I may have shed a tear or two as a result of getting so close, but yet so far. But when you finally make it to the end, the satisfying sensation of victory outweighs the vexatious gameplay.
Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!