When it appeared on the Meta Quest and Rift, Demeo did something pretty unique. It recreated the experience of playing a tabletop RPG with your friends in VR. It was all there: the rec room, the tabletop, the miniatures–animated, of course–and a dungeon set that real life players would die for. All you needed to do was rope in three nerds with headsets and you were all set. Now, Resolution Games is bringing Demeo to PC. What’s more, it includes cross-play with the VR version.
Demeo is a turn-based RPG with classic tabletop fantasy game vibes. The layout of each dungeon is procedurally generated and each match consists of three levels with a boss at the end. Although it isn’t a deck-building game per se, Demeo does include card battle elements, with players using ability cards during their turns. Gold earned in battle is used to buy cards between levels. The PC version will include 60 cards that either deal damage, heal, or cast spells.
While playing Demeo in VR was novel, Resolution is hoping that the game itself will draw players to PC. During a recent press event, I had the chance to play the PC version with members of the team. I emphasize “had the chance.” Due to a rare bug in the pre-release software–since patched–I was unable to load the game. This gave me the opportunity to sit back and watch a fellow journalist play.
Pick a Class and Go
If you’ve played Dungeons and Dragons or any CRPG, you know what to expect from Demeo. You select a character from five classes–hunter, sorcerer, guardian, assassin, or bard–each with some starting ability cards. The PC version can be played with others or solo, with one person controlling the whole party. While the VR release originally only included only one adventure, the PC version will include all of the game’s content so far: ‘The Black Sarcophagus’ dungeon, the sewers of Sunderhaven in ‘The Realm of the Rat King’, and the druid-filled Drych Forest in ‘Roots of Evil.’
Each of the three levels is fairly compact but filled with monsters, traps, surprises, and secrets. Gameplay is challenging, requiring the party to communicate as in any good tabletop RPG. In the demo I watched, the party came close to being entirely wiped several times. Thanks to a variety of approaches to combat–and some lucky dice rolls–the team of heroes snatched victory from the slimy monster jaws of defeat. The smart use of ability cards helped turn the tide at several key moments. Even with the game’s creators guiding characters, it took a good thirty minutes to clear the first level.
The developers noted that because they want each game to be a new experience, there is no character development or persistence between matches. You can’t level up your wizard or assassin outside of a one-time adventure.
VR to PC and Back Again
I haven’t played the VR version, but I really liked Demeo’s visuals on PC. The environmental art, character design, and animations looked like they sprang from many hours around the tabletop. There were some impressive lighting and spell effects and the UI did a good job of getting the information to the player without clutter. I’m a big fan of tabletop minis and I liked Demeo’s top-down, “desktop diorama” vibe.
Because the levels can be relatively small, it’s possible for the party and enemies to be packed closely together. Now and then it was a little hard to read the action. Happily, there were usually ways for characters to move out of the crowd and find a better position. The dungeon level was dark, moody, and appropriately mysterious.
Cross-play opportunities between VR and PC are rare. It’s clear that Resolution planned this from the start, and I can’t imagine a more appropriate type of game to bring together the two groups of players. With controller support and a long list of additional content planned, Demeo looks like an RPG with real promise for both communities.
Demeo comes to Steam Early Access on April 7, 2022.
***PC code provided by the developers***