Demeo review: VR co-op role-playing game with depth – now also in 2D!
Update as of April 7, 2022:
Demeo: PC Edition has been released in Early Access on Steam.
The PC Edition is a 2D version of the game that can be played with mouse and keyboard on the computer.
It supports crossplay: this means that all Demeo fans can play together, regardless of whether they have VR headset or play on the monitor.
Those who have already bought the VR version will get the 2D version for free, and vice versa.
More information can be found in our Demeo FAQ and a separate article about the PC Edition.
Demeo wants to combine co-op fun, fantasy role-playing, and gameplay depth in one VR game. Does it succeed?
Virtual reality can be a lonely affair. There are only a few VR games that you can play with others, and if you do, friends without VR headsets are left out.
Demeo is different: The game is designed for up to four VR players, and from April 7, 2022, 2D players can also join the adventure via Steam. Together with VR players, of course.
But that’s not the only gap that Demeo wants to close: The VR gaming community is also thirsty for titles with role-playing flair and gameplaying ambition. Both are in short supply in the world of VR games.
Demeo wants to kill all three birds with one stone. The conditions for this to succeed are good: Resolution Games has become one of the best VR studios in recent years. Whether it’s Angry Birds VR, Cook-Out, or Blaston (review): The Swedish studio knows how to make good games and use the strengths of the medium.
Demeo is the studio’s biggest and most ambitious project to date. The game was in development for around three years, according to CEO Tommy Palm. And, as with previous titles from the studio, the developers plan to keep the game updated with new content over the long term.
For this review, I played Demeo in single-player mode and in a group setting with fellow MIXED writers.
Demeo: Review in a nutshell
Demeo succeeds in bringing the board game evening with friends into virtual reality, but solo players also get their money’s worth. Thanks to the constant supply of new content, Demeo guarantees many hours of entertainment in the future.
Demeo is suitable for you if you …
- are looking for a game that you can play with friends,
- love tabletop games and
- expect a high level of gameplay.
Demeo is less suitable for you if you …
- prefer physically active VR games,
- play games in shorter sessions or
- don’t like fantasy scenarios.
Tabletop meets VR magic
Demeo is a strategic tabletop role-playing game that simulates the game situation itself: It puts you in a virtual basement where you meet up with friends for an evening to play a board game. But not just any board game: Demeo is a magical board game that brings the game world, characters and monsters to life before your eyes.
Thanks to the possibilities of virtual reality, you can move freely across the board like a ghost or shrink to the size of a character piece and experience battles up close.
At the beginning of each round, you choose one of five character classes. You can choose from a guardian, wizard, hunter, bard, or assassin. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses and unique abilities.
The goal is to descend to the lowest level of a dungeon and defeat the boss. Along the way, you’ll encounter all sorts of enemies: from rats and slimeballs to wizards, goblins, giant spiders, and cave trolls.
You move your character manually across a tiled playing field by picking up the character and setting it down again at the desired point. Since the game is turn-based, you have as much time as you want to plan your next move before the next player or opponents take their turn. In group play, a good deal of the game’s enjoyment comes from discussing moves and strategies together.
This is also necessary if you want to survive more than a few minutes. Demeo is a demanding game that can turn on a dime and mercilessly punishes careless actions and mistakes.
Each character class starts with a predetermined set of game cards that represent special abilities that can be used in combat by dropping them over a friend, opponent, or tile.
For example, the Guardian can repair his armor, the Mage can freeze hordes of enemies, the Archer can shoot poison arrows or summon wolves, and the Assassin can launch devastating attacks from ambush. At launch, the game offers more than 60 such game cards and special abilities.
When you go for an attack, a dice roll decides whether the action succeeds, causes critical damage, or misses – and possibly hits a friendly character. In the course of an adventure, you receive additional cards, some of them powerful, which can decide victory or defeat. You can also buy cards in an in-game store with gold collected during your session.
Demeo: Designed for game nights with friends
Each Demeo adventure consists of three levels. In the first two levels, you’ll have to track down the key bearer, kill him, and snatch the key to unlock the exit to the next level down. This gate itself must also be found first.
On the third and deepest level of the dungeon, a powerful boss awaits. If you bring him down, you will have successfully completed the adventure.
One run lasts between 90 minutes and three hours. The first adventure (“The Black Sarcophagus”) chooses from a pool of 15 different dungeon cards at each new start, with enemies, chests, and exits placed randomly. This provides plenty of variety from round to round.
At the end of each run, you’ll earn experience points, which you’ll use to unlock ranks. Thus, you’ll gradually get access to new player masks and skins for character classes, bases, and dice – that is, purely cosmetic items. This is the only progression system at the moment, which is a bit lacking and doesn’t motivate you very much to go back to the adventure again and again.
Supplies are provided
By the way, the story about the elf queen is only an accessory: Demeo focuses on dungeon exploration and combat and hardly spends any time on building a plot or coherent game world. Perhaps that will change in new adventures.
At launch in May 2021, Demeo offered only one adventure. By the end of 2021, two more were added: “The Realm of the Rat King” and “The Roots of Evil.” The latter brought a new character, the Bard, as well as outdoor levels for the first time.
Resolution Games has ambitious plans for 2022. Plans include a hangout for players, a PVP mode, and two as-yet-unannounced adventures. The 2D version also released on Steam in April 2022. With Demeo: PC Edition, you can play with friends who don’t have VR headsets. VR buyers got the 2D version for free after launch.
For control freaks: the solo mode
The studio wants to provide the fan community with new challenges and game modes in the long run. A save function was missing at launch, but it was also added via an update.
If your friends don’t have time for Demeo right now, you can start the game search and will be thrown together with other players in the network. If you don’t like that, you can also play Demeo alone. In the so-called battle mode, you control one to four characters on your own through the dungeon.
The following trailer offers a good overview of Demeo’s game mechanics and illustrates them with examples:
A VR game with ambition
Demeo is surprisingly challenging. By failing repeatedly, the game forces you to learn from your mistakes and try different approaches.
The game really delivers on that thanks to its strategic depth. Virtual reality or not: Demeo is essentially a game with a sophisticated set of rules and thus a refreshing change from many VR titles that are rather shallow in terms of gameplay.
Here, you learn something with every playthrough and develop new strategies step-by-step to master difficult situations. This is just as much a feature of an excellent game as the fact that the time you spend in Demeo flies by.
“Oops, why doesn’t my quest track anymore?” I asked myself during a Demeo round. The reason: night had fallen and I was sitting in a pitch-black room.
Demeo: Ingeniously good in a group
If you’ve never played a tabletop role-playing game of this sort, you needn’t worry: Demeo was my first real tabletop gaming experience, and it was fun right off the bat thanks to its tutorial and easy-to-understand game rules. But, tabletop connoisseurs should also enjoy the game: Three of the MIXED colleagues who tested the game with me are more familiar with the genre and were positively surprised by Demeo’s depth.
Demeo succeeds excellently in capturing the mood of a shared game evening, which thrives on the social interaction at least as much as the game itself. The fact that you are bent over the game world most of the time and only see the mask and hands of the other players does little to detract from this.
Great, uncomplicated freedom of movement
A VR game stands and falls with the implementation of its VR elements, and Demeo can score highly in this area as well. For a large part of the game, you are busy navigating across the playing field and repeatedly adopting new perspectives in order to keep an overview of the battle.
Resolution Games has skillfully implemented this kind of artificial locomotion so that you don’t have to stand on your feet while playing. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing, sitting, or lying down: Demeo can be played comfortably in any of these positions.
All movement is done with the hands: If you want to hover in a certain direction, you grab the world and pull it towards you. Turns are triggered by a rotational movement of the hands, and if you want to get in or out of the game, you move your hands apart or towards each other accordingly. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to miss this manual way of moving around and controlling perspectives.
In the middle of things instead of just being there
If you zoom into the world, its proportions also increase. Suddenly, you have the feeling that you are no longer looking at a board game, but standing in the middle of the room. This is an amazing visual effect that is only possible in virtual reality.
Because you are usually bent over in Demeo, neck pain can occur after a while. But the studio has also thought of this problem: You can tilt the entire game world up via the analog stick so that you look forward instead of down. This perspective is very unusual at first, especially when you play lying down and see the game world above you. However, I got used to this view after a while.
Some VR players might find all this movement and unusual perspective overwhelming, but for reasons other than practicality. During my first play session, I got a little queasy from the artificial rotations and zoom effect. One of my MIXED colleagues felt a little weird when tilting the table up, but the feeling subsided. I myself had no more problems after the first touch. In the end, only trial-and-error helps.
Conclusion: A growing co-op adventure
Resolution Games has done everything right: The game mechanics, co-op aspect, and VR implementation are convincing. And, thanks to regular updates of new content and game modes, the game is constantly growing.
For the future, I would like to see expandable heroes and a more motivating progression system, a story campaign that consists of more than traversing dungeons and killing monsters, and a dungeon construction kit complete with a platform to trade adventures. As you can see, Demeo still has a lot of potential.
Those who like to play alone will also enjoy Demeo. However, the title only shows its full strength in a group. Here, the social event comes to the fore and guarantees brilliant game evenings with friends.
Update: Realm of the Rat King
The second adventure, Realm of the Rat King, was released on June 28, 2021, and upgrades Demeo’s content. The journey takes you to the city of Sunderhaven, which is struggling with a plague of rats. To get to the bottom of the mysterious plague, the heroes head into the city’s sewers.
The new environment is graphically nicely designed and features new enemies and maps. Players once again have to fight their way through two floors and face the mighty Rat King at the end. Demeo players will have to pull out all the stops and cards to take down the final boss.
The single-player mode has also been expanded. In the so-called battle mode, single players can now control up to four characters and select the character classes individually.
Demeo appears in the Quest Store at the same time as the update. Those who own a PC can now enjoy the game in better graphics for free, as it supports cross-buy. Various bug fixes and balancing measures round out the update.
With Realm of the Rat King, Resolution Games addresses the biggest criticism of Demeo: the somewhat meager scope of the game. With the second adventure together, motivated Demeo players should be entertained beyond ten hours, which makes the price now seem more measured. In addition, more free updates are to follow in the future.
Update: Memory feature
On October 21, 2021, an update was released that adds a long-awaited feature: single-player or multiplayer players can now save between the levels of an adventure.
Update: Roots of Evil and Roadmap for 2022
The third adventure was released on December 16, 2021. A player lounge, a 2D PC version, a PVP mode, and two new adventures are planned for next year.
You can buy Demeo here:
|Meta Quest (2)||Oculus Store||29,99 Euro|
|PC VR version: PC VR headsets, Meta Quest (2) via PC VR streaming||Steam||24,99 Euro|
|PC VR version: Oculus Rift (S), Meta Quest (2) via PC VR streaming||Rift Store||29,99 Euro|
Small Demeo FAQ:
Which Demeo game versions are there and what are the differences?
There are two versions of Demeo available: a native Quest version and a PC VR version.
The PC VR version has sharper textures and nicer graphic effects, and can be played at a higher resolution and frame rate depending on your VR headset and computer. Otherwise, there are no differences.
Demeo: PC Edition released on Steam on April 7, 2022. The 2D version can be played with mouse and keyboard on the screen.
Will Demeo: PC Edition be sold separately?
Yes, but anyone who has purchased or is purchasing the VR version will receive Demeo: PC Edition for the respective platform (Oculus Store or Steam) as a gift. This also applies to the reverse case.
If Demeo was purchased on the Oculus Store, Demeo: PC Edition will be playable on the Oculus platform (see instructions). Those who bought Demeo on Steam will receive a free copy of Demeo: PC Edition on Steam.
Does Demeo support crossplay?
Yes, players can play together across platforms. This applies to both the Quest platform, Steam, and the Demeo: PC Edition. This means that VR and 2D players can play together.
Does Demeo support cross-buy?
Yes. Anyone who buys the game from the Quest Store can later play the PC VR version for free via Oculus Link or Air Link. Or vice versa.