Virtual reality hardware has the magic to turn what seems like a boring game from the outside, into something truly remarkable. You can’t deny that while watching VR trailers, the gameplay often looks pretty mediocre and if anything, dull. But slap on a VR device and games just take a new form thanks to the 3D stereoscopic worlds created inside the headset. For me, Demeo was one of these games. I watched a few trailers and could not help but feel that this strategy board game style has been done before. However, after spending many a night hovering over a digital game board, Demeo is likely the most refreshing PS VR2 game I have had the joy of playing.
Demeo is a dungeon crawling table-top game inspired by the likes of Dungeons & Dragons and other strategy RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate. While there isn’t much role-playing going on here, the general gameplay loop definitely dives into class-based combat and a lot of strategy.
The game is played either solo or with up to four players in a single lobby. There are seven playable classes to choose from with each of them packing a completely different play style and combat approach. The Guardian, for example, is a tank class with heavy damage attacks and armour to protect itself from damage. Great for heading off on their own to flank enemies.
Other classes include the Warlock, Sorcerer, Assassin, Hunter, Barbarian and Bard. You can kinda understand what each of these do as most of them are your cookie-cutter class archetypes.
A typical round of Demeo saw me dive into one of the five campaigns on offer in the game and face off against some nasty monsters as I tried to get through each floor without losing all the characters I chose. I need to stress that Demeo isn’t an easy game. It took me a few failed attempts before I managed to master (well, get better at it) the gameplay.
Each dungeon is procedurally generated and works on a grid system. I could move the characters across the dungeon and use a set number of actions each turn. Actions count towards moving and using cards. Each class is equipped with a set number of unique cards which play into their class roles.
The Sorcerer can pull off powerful magical attacks and charge elements for greater damage. The Assasin can sneak around and attack enemies from behind for greater damage numbers too. However, every class can also simply move around and deal with a basic attack. I just had to pick them up and place them down on top of an enemy to initiate the battle.
Combat revolves around rolling a die to determine whether the attack hits normal damage numbers, double damage or misses. No matter what attack or card I used, I had to roll this die. There are also some cards that rely on flipping a coin. As such, I had to grab the coin and flip it.
With that in mind, the dungeon crawling in Demeo is just that – moving around, killing things, grabbing a key and getting to the next floor. Each campaign also threw bosses at me which were tankier foes I had to take time beating down while dodging other obstacles which were thrown at me.
But the real fun of Demeo comes from this VR experience. Being able to pick up my pieces and move them about the dungeon like a well-played game of chess felt fantastic. Flipping my wrist around to pull up my cards felt like I was literally hiding my strategy up my sleeve.
The VR allowed me to zoom right into the board game, rotate around the world and really get up-close in the action. So much so that the so-called “lounge” which acts as the environment outside the game, disappeared and I felt fully immersed in this campaign.
Demeo’s gameplay also there some surprises my way. I especially enjoyed how defenceless my party members felt in every dungeon against the mass horde of monsters. It definitely didn’t hold my hand and I was forced to carefully plot each attack and utilize all the cards I had available.
The VR interactions work well. Demeo gives off this feeling of playing a board game with this top-down camera angle at first. Of course, moving about is the real fun here and I don’t think the same camera enjoyment would be had with a controller.
The game takes advantage of the PS VR2 system with haptic feed nudging my hand as moved my pointer across the dungeon to select characters and items.
I did have some issues where the tracking on the headset would glitch out and the entire world would rotate upside down. I had to close my eyes and hope when opening them, it would be back to normal. These moments happened quite often when I was looking down at the table. However, outside of this issue, the general comfort levels in Demeo felt good. I managed to sit through a few dungeon levels at a time before taking a break.
Demeo is also a single-player or co-op game. It also has a decent amount of content available with an XP system that rewards new dice styles, gloves and skins for the classes the more you play the game. There are no real “improvements” to the classes which are made outside of the general gameplay. It is all cosmetic and each campaign resets your roster to the basics.
Demeo is a fun game and I regret only jumping into it now on PS VR2. It offers a nice spin on the virtual reality board game genre and if anything, goes to show what is possible if we get more of these games.
This Demeo PS VR2 review is based on a code sent to us by Resolution Games. It is available on PS VR, PS VR2, PC VR and is playable without a VR headset on all those platforms too. You can pick it up on PS5 for R719.
Demeo PS VR2 review
Demeo is a one-of-a-king tabletop VR game where you’ll get lost for hours crawling through deadly dungeons while plotting attacks and fending off deadly beasts.
Strategy meets RPG genre
Card system is fun
Some wonky tracking at times
Missing some features