"I Expect You to Die: Home Sweet Home" shows the pros and cons of mixed reality
I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home should be tried by anyone interested in mixed reality. It shows the potential, but also the limitations of the technology.
The escape room games in the I Expect You To Die series are virtual reality classics. With the free mini-mission Home Sweet Home, Schell Games ventures into mixed reality territory for the first time. Available for Meta Quest 2 (review) and Meta Quest Pro (info), the app is one of the best mixed reality experiences out there - even if it pushes the limits of current technology in places.
Warning: the following article contains spoilers. If you haven't played I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home yet, try it out for yourself before reading.
"I Expect You to Die" in mixed reality
At the beginning, you find yourself locked in a wooden box. Your faithful helper tells you the reason via radio. You have been smuggled out of a top-secret laboratory of the villain Dr. Zor and transported safely home.
When you look through openings in the virtual box, you see your apartment. The great mixed reality effect enhances the immersion. Over the next five minutes, you free yourself from the crate, fight mechanical hornets coming out of an opening in your wall, and discover and disarm deadly traps via X-ray vision.
The app entertains well and pulls out almost all the stops of current mixed reality and passthrough tech. It skillfully uses occlusion effects (looking through the virtual crate into the physical environment), incorporates your surroundings into the experience (hornets and traps in the physical walls), and alters your vision to give you superpowers (X-ray vision).
Current technology and its limitations
Speaking of vision, those playing on Meta Quest 2 see the physical environment and digital game elements in black and white. The visual consistency makes the experience feel more coherent. The absence of color is also made narratively plausible by the eye implant given to the agent to see through objects. Clever.
One buzzkill is the immature mixed reality technology of Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro. If you want to play the short mission, you must first draw in your walls manually because the headsets cannot scan the room independently.
The manual marking of walls and objects like tables, doors, and sofas is a tedious task that doesn't always lead to the desired result. For example, digital objects appear in awkward or simply impossible places and thus break the immersion.
A foretaste of the mixed reality future?
Until Meta headsets achieve a fundamental understanding of space, Meta's mixed reality will be subject to severe limitations and will not go far beyond simply placing digital objects in physical space. For this reason, it is incomprehensible why Meta deleted the depth sensor of the Meta Quest Pro. It would have been extremely helpful for this task.
Schell Games still gets a lot out of the current technology and I wish the mixed reality experience lasted a bit longer than just a few minutes.
What isn't can still be: Meta Quest 3 could emphasize mixed reality, making it worthwhile for studios to develop games and experiences for it. With that in mind, I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home gives a brief but promising taste of what may be to come.
You can download the mixed reality app for free from the Meta Quest Store.