It’s one of the longest-running series on virtual reality platforms, but with developer Schell Games STILL managing to improve upon the ever-satisfying puzzle-solving formula, it’s no surprise that I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine stands out as another unmissable hit for the team.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s hard to go into too much depth about the plot of I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine without spoiling the previous games, so I’ll keep detail minimal here. Just know that the villainous Zoraxis organisation are still up to no good, with their enigmatic leader Dr Zor as elusive as ever, but also working alongside a former Agency scientist to invent a robotic agent able of out-performing you in every way possible. It’s up to you to bring their dastardly plans to a halt.
Once again, the storytelling manages to capture the old-school spy-thriller vibes perfectly, with the game mixing up that classic James Bond atmosphere with some silly self-awareness that ensures it never tries to take itself TOO seriously. It’s very effective though, with the over-the-top nature of the antics that ensue making each perilous puzzle all the more enjoyable to unravel, whilst the slicker actions you perform act as a constant reminder that you’re the star of the show. Oh, and that opening sequence and song? It’s PERFECT and will remind players of the 007 movies of yesteryear.
When it comes to the gameplay, I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine maintains the formula that has worked so well in the previous releases in the series. Each level in the game essentially feels like an escape room, with players having to complete complex puzzles in a specific way in order to succeed. The catch here? There are PLENTY of ways to die along the way, with hazardous dangers ending your life with every little mistake you make. Death doesn’t feel like a punishment though, but rather a lesson that you need to approach the puzzle a little differently the next time around – it’s very much a case of trial-and-error, but in a rewarding manner that never gets frustrating.
“Schell Games have really gone all-out in making the scenarios of I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine some of the most drastic and action-focused that I’ve seen across the series, with it clear that they’ve mastered their craft throughout the previous releases.”
It helps that the enigmas themselves are SO fun to solve. You’ll have to interact with the environment and objects within levels in a variety of creative ways, with some solutions requiring a bit of logic and others demanding a bit of experimentation from the player. Everything about the game feels fair, and whilst you will suffer a few deaths that seemed to come from nowhere, nine times out of ten it’ll be because you made some clumsy mistake when an idea goes wrong. But when you do have an idea and it works out? It’s really rewarding, with the ingenuity of the puzzle-design lending itself well to some real ‘eureka’ moments. It’s rare you’ll solve something on the first try, but when you do? Man, it feels good.
It might feel a little familiar for some players then, but that’s not to say there aren’t some new innovations. Solving puzzles whilst physically driving a car in-game is exciting, whilst getting to tackle objectives in a non-specified order in the underwater base gives players a bit more freedom. On paper, they might feel like small differences, but they do evolve upon the formula and help make some of the game’s puzzles feel that bit more unique when compared to its predecessors.
I’ve tried to be non-specific about the puzzles of the game in this review, but its intentional. I really don’t want to give away too many details of the experience – not only so that I don’t spoil any potential solutions, but also to keep the situations you find yourself in as a surprise. Schell Games have really gone all-out in making the scenarios of I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine some of the most drastic and action-focused that I’ve seen across the series, with it clear that they’ve mastered their craft throughout the previous releases. It helps make this the most refined and creative entry yet, with no puzzle or locale feeling like a dud… everything is just of a very high quality.
Check out some screenshots down below:
That’s not to say there aren’t some imperfections though. The controls can be a little awkward at times and make some interactions with objects feel a little clumsier than they need to be, whilst there were one or two deaths I suffered that did feel a little unfair when there wasn’t anything I could do to avoid them because of the controls. There’s nothing game-breaking by any means and for the most part everything works perfectly, but when something doesn’t work like you expect it to? It can be a little annoying, especially with the high stakes at play (the game has no checkpoint so dying means starting a level over).
Still, it’s a small issue in what is otherwise a stellar experience. I haven’t even mentioned the visuals, which manage to look sharp and detailed in the Meta Quest 2 headset, whilst the game’s colourful aesthetic and audio design manage to capture that old-school spy vibe perfectly. And the voice acting? It’s the best I’ve seen in the series so far. Everything about I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine just feels better than we’ve seen before, which is a big compliment given the high expectations it has set with previous releases.
I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine Review
I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine doesn’t change the formula up too much, but it still stands out as the best release in the series thanks to its excellent puzzle design and wonderful presentation. The puzzles on offer are creative and challenging in equal measure, but never frustrate thanks to the ingenuity of their design – there’s always a fair and fun solution to uncover… you’ve just to got figure it out without dying. And when you do die? It’ll always be with a smile on your face.
The controls can be a little clumsy in places, but with the game offering the best puzzling action seen across the series, it’s hard to complain too much. Whether you’re a long-time fan or dipping your toes in for the first time, you’ll love the wild spy-thriller antics of I Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the Machine.
Developer: Schell Games
Publisher: Schell Games
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed), PC VR