Demeo - Tabletop Triumph
PC, PC VR, PS5, PS VR2
I’m not surprising any of the Player2 readership when I say that I’ve not been much of a tabletop gaming fan, in-fact, the whole vertical games has even failed to grab me when it has previously collided with the world of video games. There was something completely impenetrable about the format for me, until Demeo came along. I had heard of the game, rumblings from PC-land discussing its brilliance, both as a VR game but also a traditional one, and so consider me excited when all of a sudden it is announced that Demeo would be coming day-and-date with the new PS5 peripheral PS VR2, I thought it time to try it out and potentially shake up my perspective on tabletop – and I’m thrilled to say that I have no regrets in trying it.
What I hadn’t realised, until I slipped on the PS VR2 headset, is that at its core Demeo is a multiplayer experience, one to be shared with up to 3 other players, and while it is possible to experience most of what Demeo offers solo, it’s a significantly lesser experience for that choice. The Demeo experience is one that can be shared between VR and non-VR using players, across all available platforms, PC and PS5 making the ability to access any of the five campaigns easier as a result.
Each of those five campaigns spans three levels, the next more difficult than the one that proceeded it. The goal of each campaign is to navigate each of those sequences of missions as you work your way through to the dungeon’s boss on the third floor. Demeo is an immediate reality check for players unfamiliar with some of the basics of RPGs and table-top RPGs specifically, with the game’s very light tutorial largely just there to inform the player of how to navigate the environment using the PS VR2 headset – consequently you might feel like the dead-weight in your team, or all at sea if playing solo, straight out of the gate, and that instant barrier of entry is definitely a concern, but if you can persist through that initial obstacle, the fun is completely worth it.
Each floor can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes to complete, but, aside from defeating the boss in the final level, amounts to little more than collecting a key and unlocking the door to proceed to the next floor. At face value, this may seem repetitious and dull, however it’s the combination of enemy spawns, that at various other obstacles thrown in your way, not to mention the multitude of ways that you can tackle those that ensure that each run feels district. There’s no narrative of any note to speak of which helps further facilitate the experiential storytelling that we often see in many pen-and-paper or tabletop games. The experience is whatever you choose to make of it, whether you’re going it alone in Skirmish mode, you’re jumping into a private room with friends to play, or if you jump into open online play with the masses.
As previously touched upon, Demeo isn’t for the faint of heart, with your enemy AI being excellent, as it boxes you into tight corners, or lures you through lethal chokepoints due to an exceptionally balanced combination of spells and movement patterns that largely force you to push forward, no matter what you’d rather be doing. No matter which of the games pre-made, pre-customised seven classes (which I’ll add it is disappointing that customisation in this space is impossible) you’ve chosen, the game is superbly balanced to ensure that no single character has an inherent advantage over the others, but when you pair the strengths of various heroes together, that is when the game shines brightest.
Demeo places you in control of the fantasy world, not inside of it, with the camera occasionally panning out to remind you that you are playing this in the stereotypical basement space. The aesthetic of the world, as well as the various moving miniature pieces on the tile-based board. The world exudes personality despite its rigid, unmoving mini inspirations, and the sound design mirrors that as well.
Demeo doesn’t on-board new players particularly well, and a more distinct, accessible single-player would’ve been the cherry on top, but Demeo delivers an energetic co-op experience that challenges, and excites, demands discipline, but is incredibly rewarding constantly. In and out of VR, this is a must play for any tabletop fan, and even those who might have some passing interest.
Demeo was reviewed on PS VR2 with a code kindly provided by ÜberStrategist