I Expect You to Die 2 is the virtual reality (VR) game you should play if you’ve always secretly wanted to step into the exhilarating, treacherous life of James Bond, Sterling Archer, or any other badass secret agent. You’ll dodge poisonous darts, divert dangerous missiles, and fool villains by disguising yourself as a different person.
On top of the thrilling, action-packed moments, IEYTD2 challenges you to use your noggin to solve mysteries and remain one step ahead of your wicked enemies. The escape room-esque levels will truly test how well you’d fare as a secret agent. Can you foresee all the booby traps before you find yourself beheaded by a swinging axe? Can you tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes, use the art of deductive reasoning, and make sense of the clues planted in each level? Can you remain calm and deactivate an atomic bomb — with only a few minutes to spare — as the fate of the human race rests on your hands?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, I wouldn’t be so confident. Look at the title of this game! The designers want you to lose, and yes, they expect you to die. There will be lots of trial and error, and you will likely die many, many times before you make it to the end, but I guarantee that the death-laden journey is worth it.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: price and availability
I Expect You to Die 2, developed by Schell Games, is available starting today. It’s priced at $24.99 across all major VR platforms: SteamVR, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: opening credits
Austin Powers weeps! There’s another secret agent with a spectacular, theatrical opening number — and it’s you. The original game (I Expect You to Die 2 is a sequel) wow-ed the VR world with its ostentatious, Broadway-esque opening number that whisks you through a dazzling negative-space animation.
This time, the opening credits are sung by America’s Got Talent alumni Puddles Pity Party, a 56-year-old talented singer known for his sad-clown act and smooth baritone vocals. If you pay attention to the opening credits, you’ll get a few hints of what’s in store for you — and it’s not pretty. Whizzing ninja stars, earth-bound missiles, and mechanical masks make appearances in the opening sequence. Be prepared to face skilled assassins, dangerous projectiles and futuristic technological inventions designed to facilitate the execution of an evil, heinous plot.
The original game’s opening credits, sung by Bonnie Bogovich, are a lot more jazzier with her impressive, melodious riffs. They’re catchier, too. I still find myself singing the tune from time to time. But the sequel’s animations are a lot more majestic and grandiose. It’s always fun to look to your left and right, as well as behind you, to see the swirling, 360-degree illustrations dancing around you.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: main characters
The IEYTD2 world is populated with more enemies than friends, so watch your back! There’s even a character who pretends to have your best interest at heart, but unfortunately for you, there’s a wolf lurking beneath sheep’s clothing.
In the espionage realm, every international super spy has a handler who oversees their mission objectives, gathers intel, and acts as their “eyes and ears” when they’re in enemy territory. Of course, as a secret agent in IEYTD2, you’ll have your own handler. You don’t know what he looks like nor do you know his name, but you can hear his voice — as if you’re wearing an earpiece — and he’s quite the character. His posh British accent, à la Pennyworth from Batman, tells you that he’s a distinguished, older man who works for an elite agency, but he can also zing a few off-the-wall one-liners that reveal his quirky, humorous personality.
Your handler is somewhat helpful and wants you to complete all your missions, but you can tell that he’d shrug his shoulders and offer his “thoughts and prayers” if you died under his watch. There are other spy fish in the sea!
Your handler happens to be a huge fan of John Juniper, a world-renowned star in the IEYTD2 world who can sing, act and entertain a crowd. Juniper is admittedly talented, but an insufferable, vainglorious celebrity who low-key has aspirations to take over the world.
As we peel back Juniper’s layers, we discover that he’s got a few screws loose. Keep your eye on Juniper. He’s swimming in wealth, he’s got a thirst for power, and he doesn’t have a compassionate bone in his body. As your handler will say once he finds out Juniper’s true off-stage personality, “never meet your heroes!”
Big Bang Theory fans may recognize Juniper’s voice, and that’s because Wil Wheaton lent his voice-acting talents to the IETYD2 game, and he doesn’t disappoint.
Most brilliant inventors use their technologically advanced apparatuses for good. Some want to bridge the gap between Earth and space, others want to find solutions in the health field, and a few want to add convenience into our lives.
The Fabricator, on the other hand, uses her inventive talents for evil. She builds “luxury death traps” for Zoraxis, a crooked global weapons and pharmaceutical conglomerate — the same corporation players were tasked with taking down in the first game. Your handler finds out that the Fabricator’s been spending a lot of time with Juniper, which is suspicious. As an actor, Juniper is talented at impersonating others on screen, and well, the Fabricator develops a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ to help take his masquerading skills to the next level.
What I love about the I Expect You to Die series is that it truly feels as if you are the main character in this VR game.
You’re not maneuvering a well-developed character with an established backstory. Nope, IEYTD2 puts you in first-person mode — you are in the middle of all of the action. The secret spy in this VR game works for an espionage agency called Enhanced Operatives Division and intentionally doesn’t have a name. You’re always called “agent” in the game. As such, the game feels more personal and profound. Saving the world doesn’t rest on some secret spy named Joanna Dark or Lana Kane — the fate of humankind rests on you.
When I played IETYD2, I developed my own backstory to make the game feel more immersive. I’m a Senior Writer who happened to find herself in a pickle working as a spy for the Enhanced Operatives Division, but if I could manage to save the world, I’ll be released and finally return to my regular, safe life as a tech journalist.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: story
In IEYTD2, VR players reprise their role as a secret agent working for the Enhanced Operatives Division. This time, you’ve got a little more experience under your belt (you were a rookie in the first game). In the sequel, you still have it out for Zoraxis, but you’ll have different personnel — as well as an international superstar — in your crosshairs.
Funnily enough, Zoraxis thinks you’re dead (the last mission of the original game ended with an explosion, which you narrowly survived). Little do they know that the biggest thorn in its side (you) has risen from the dead and you’re out to thwart their evil, world-domination plans.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the storyline, but it’s a fascinating one that involves impersonating world leaders, nuclear codes getting into the wrong hands, and using a technologically advanced mask for sinister motives.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: gameplay
IEYDT2 is a perfect melange of action-filled adventure and brain-stimulating, escape room-esque puzzles. In the first mission, you’re tasked with going undercover as a stage manager during a show that Juniper is hosting in Manhattan. A prime minister of an unnamed foreign country is attending this show and your handler suspects that Zoraxis has an evil plan up its sleeves — and he’s right.
As the stagehand, you’ll have access to everything backstage. You can activate sounds (e.g. a bell tolling), control the spotlights, raise the curtains, and more. First, you must play a convincing stagehand and follow the instructions placed before you. You’ll be given a script of Juniper’s opening monologue, and you must follow the sound cues. For instance, there will be a moment when Juniper says “Come in, come in! Winter winds blow them wide!” The instructions prompt you to activate the wind sound after this line. If you take too long, Juniper will repeat himself, which elicited a chuckle out of me. If you continue to screw up, you’ll blow your cover. It’s quite an exhilarating experience knowing that the success of Juniper’s show rests on your hands as he speaks before hundreds of people, including a prime minister.
However, as the show progresses, something unexpected happens. A giant mask descends from the ceiling to disseminate poison throughout the theatre to kill everyone. Once you figure out how to stop the lethal gas leak, Zoraxis assassins appear out of nowhere to punish you for hampering their evil plans. This is where you need to exercise your noggin. You must use the switches and levers at your disposal to thwart them, including using spotlights to blind ‘em, triggering the clock-gong sound to startle them, and activating a windy door to knock ‘em off their feet.
As part of the action, you’ll need to dodge bullets while chucking hand grenades at your enemies.
Each mission is more difficult than the last, but they all encourage you to think on your feet and stay on your toes. Killer booby traps are everywhere, so watch your step! As you face killer security bots, timed-levels, and frustrating “what the hell do I do next?” moments, you’ll notice how well IEYTD2 tests your reflexes, ability to perform under pressure and wit.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: VR controls
I Expect You to Die 2 is a seated experience. You must sit on a chair to play the game, but don’t be fooled, there’s still a lot of movement required on your part. For example, you must lean left or right to avoid gunfire and other projectiles.
One of the best aspects of I Expect You to Die 2, however, is its expansive use of the Oculus Quest 2 controls — interacting with objects in the IEYTD2 world mimics the real world. I had a lot of fun pouring myself several glasses of champagne and smoking premium cigars; it all felt authentic. I particularly loved playing around with the 1950s radio in my spy van. I could rotate the dial and listen to several stations (e.g. music, talk radio and news).
In one mission, I grabbed an empty bottle and broke an airplane window, and in another, I interacted with a series of levers, dials, switches and buttons to override a malfunctioning system. As a cherry on top, you have telekinesis powers, so you can summon objects into your hands, as well as make ‘em float and hover in the air. The dexterity required in IEYTD2 is unmatched and adds to the immersive experience of being an international super spy.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: weaknesses and flaws
Oftentimes, I’ve found myself going into a mission not knowing what, exactly, is my objective. I’d wonder, “What am I looking for? What am I supposed to accomplish here?” Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can press to remind you of your mission objectives. I suspect this is by design. You’re supposed to use your clue-hunting prowess to figure out a way to progress in the game, however, not having a sense of direction can get frustrating.
There are also times when my handler would say something, and I’d want him to repeat it (especially if I suspected that it contained a hint or clue), but there’s no option to do so. Funnily enough, on some levels, the opposite would happen. My handler would repeat the same statement every damn minute as I struggled to figure out what to do next. Not being able to figure out your next move is already frustrating enough — add your handler sounding like a broken record and it becomes maddening.
Lastly, it’d be nice if there was an option to turn on clues for VR players who are at their wits end and can’t figure out how to advance. Perhaps my handler could give me a cryptic hint of what I should be doing next or the game could illuminate the area I should be focusing on. Brainiac players could have the option to turn clues off.
I Expect You to Die 2 review: Oculus Quest 2 performance
I played IEYTD2 on the Oculus Quest 2, which is packed with 64GB of storage, 1440 x 1600-pixel displays per eye and a 72Hz refresh rate. IEYTD2’s graphics aren’t particularly demanding, so naturally, the game played as smooth as a Sunday morning on the Quest 2.
Thanks to the six-degrees-of-freedom headset, I could do a 360-degree spin in all missions and get a seamless, uninterrupted view of the room, perfectly mimicking the real-life plane. The game responded quickly to my controls as I summoned objects into my VR hands, often prompting my handler to respond with a “Good!” I’ve been playing IEYTD2 for weeks, and I haven’t experienced any freezing, stuttering or any other performance issues.
IEYTD2 has all the cliche elements you need to fully embrace the secret-agent lifestyle, including stealthily descending into a villain’s secret lair on a cable, having a sidekick who guides you through missions via an earpiece, and dodging bullets like you’re Neo in The Matrix.
Dare I say it, I even enjoyed getting kidnapped in one particular mission because it parodied every evil-plot film trope I’ve ever seen. You know what I’m talking about — the scene where the villain captures the protagonist and he can’t help but brag about how he intends to kill the hero. But of course, the protagonist always manages to escape the villain’s grasp and thwarts him from executing his world-domination scheme.
Once you’ve finished the game, there are some features that encourage replayability. There are speed-run challenges that let you test how fast you can complete missions. There are also several different ways you can complete each mission, and IEYTD2 challenges you to beat the levels using different solutions.
With this game tapping into my desire for intellectual challenges and exhilarating adventure, IEYTD2 is, without a doubt, one of the best VR games I’ve ever played.