I Expect You To Die 3: Cog In The Machine

Developer / Publisher – Schell Games
Price – US $24.99 / CAN $29.99 / EU €49.99 / UK £19.99 / AU $34.95
Release Date – August 24th, 2021
Input – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area –  Seated, Roomscale
Store – Steam, Meta
Reviewed on – Quest 2

For the record, I loved the 1st 2 titles in this series as they just might be the best examples of how to do stationary puzzlers in VR. That’s due to the light-hearted take on the super spy thrillers as they are packed with comedy, action, random interactions and multiple choices to solve some of the puzzles. You don’t need to play the 1st 2 games to understand what’s happening here though I do recommend doing so. Suffice to say, you are back in the shoes (or gloves I guess) of Agent Phoenix and must unravel the mysteries surrounding not just Dr. Zor but Dr. Rosana Prism, a former Agency inventor who now views you as the biggest obstacle in the way of her plans for her robotic creations. You’ll be travelling around the world to track down these nefarious foes while unravelling the escape room type puzzles left in their wake and like always, expect to die.

These robots are surprisingly friendly!

For those that have played this series before, you’ll be right at home here as outside of the unique items you’ll be playing with this time, the controls here are the same. This is a stationary room-scale puzzler meant to be played seated with most interactions being within arms reach…more or less. Now should something be out of reach, don’t fret as you have telepathic powers that not only let you pull in items from nearly any visible distance, but you can also make them hover in place which comes in handy when you may dealing with many items or notes as having stuff floating around you can make for a much easier time than sorting through piles of junk or looking for an errant item you may have tossed aside. A brief opening tutorial will catch you up on your abilities before you start the 6-stage campaign which places you in some very unique locales.

If you have ever played any stationary puzzler before this, you know exactly what to expect here regarding gameplay though I can’t deny just how well balanced this series is in regard to fun and challenge. It’s up to you to pay attention to everything around you as even a seemingly useless item may have some significance as you solve each of the stages many smaller conundrums. Your handler may offer the vaguest of clues which typically just tell you where your attentions should be, which is great as each discovery feels quite rewarding. When things are a going smoothly, I felt like a genius, knocking off puzzle after puzzle like I’d done them before but when I hit those mental blocks where I couldn’t find a solution, it was maddening…and not because the game is overly challenging, but because the clues were ALWAYS right in front of my face and oftentimes I felt like an idiot for not seeing those answers much sooner. Throw in that many of the puzzles have multiple solutions, hidden collectibles, that some items could just be there to trigger a funny joke and that each mission has secret objectives, and you get a rare puzzler that offers up some replayability as well!

Always follow the instructions.

Now, as the title suggests, you will die a lot and while the goal of the game is to make it through each stage unscathed, that will rarely happen as numerous traps and tricks are designed specifically to end your meddling in your foes’ affairs. When death occurs, you will have to restart the stage from the beginning though as the puzzles remain the same, what may have taken a half hour or more to solve will now take mere seconds or minutes making trial and error its own reward with each unique death causing myself a little chuckle as there are quite a few ways to die with some being quite laughable. Unfortunately, there is no save system in here so if you find yourself stuck in a puzzle and can’t complete it, your only option is to leave the game hanging or quit and restart which can be annoying but like I said, getting back to where you left off should only take a few minutes at most.

You’ll visit plenty more unique locations.

Each stage in the game looks great thanks to the stationary nature of the game which allows for some highly detailed locations. You’ll find yourself in a large foyer, in a mine, a sky tram, moving car and a few more locales that all look great carrying with them a slightly cartoonish art style that lends itself to the lighter tones of the series. While this thematically looks identical to the parts 1 & 2, I would’ve liked to see a little evolution in the visual style be it larger areas or some more dynamic lighting but I’m honestly being nitpicky when it comes the presentation as what’s here shines for a room scale puzzler. Many items can be used in some fun and clever ways offering up a ton of effects and interactions that do make this world feel tangible and authentic. Add in a decent little physics engine along with a very slick looking Bond-style opening credits sequence and you get a very complete visual package with very little to complain about.

Unsurprisingly, the audio design is also on point with your handler returning to do the bulk of the talking as he breaks down the narrative and offers commentary during each mission via an earpiece picked up during the tutorial. Each stage has its own thematically accurate song with the overall audio package having a very 60’s type vibe including not just the soundtrack, but the slightly cheesy over-the-top way in which nearly everyone speaks. The performances are all fantastic and while the stationary nature of the game maybe isn’t the best showcase for spatial audio, it’s here and when I noticed it, it added to the overall immersion.

I swear I’ve seen that bear before.

Now, as far as my final thoughts on this game goes, it’s just as good as the first 2 games so fans of this series up too this point will not be disappointed. With that said, I think I’m getting a little franchise fatigue with this one as while I did have fun, it did sort of feel like I’ve already been here before with not much new coming out of this latest instalment outside of it just being…more I Expect You to Die. It’s a great series, I just think this 3rd instalment is a case of too much of a good thing but with that said, this is a showcase for just how good room scale puzzle games can be so if you’re looking to test your brain and have fun while doing it, don’t look past any entry in this series, including this one.

Meta provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!


  • Continues the IEYTD story
  • It's fun to see how many ways you can die
  • Solid presentation
  • Clever and fun puzzles


  • Series is starting to feel a little repetitious
  • Sometimes dying can be frustrating


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