Demeo PSVR 2 & PS5 Review

Better the Demeo you know.
Demeo Header

As great as the rise of online gaming has been, one of the things that it’s stripped away over the past 15-20 years has been that sense of shared space and presence that you only really get from local multiplayer and tabletop games. A party chat isn’t the same as a LAN party, a computer RPG isn’t the same as a DM-led tabletop one.

Yet fans of those experiences have been able to twist and adapt video games back into those earlier pre-internet forms. Millions play tabletop RPGs via video chat and D&D Beyond, there’s the almost infinitely adaptable Tabletop Simulator (with its own VR mode), and then there’s games like Demeo that craft something new for video games and with a shared space in mind.

Clearly inspired by boardgames like HeroQuest, Demeo sees up to four adventurers delving deep into randomised environments, doing battle with corrupted fantasy creatures and working up to battle a campaign-ending boss. You can play this on your own, or team up in a group of up to four to play in co-op and pool your efforts together.

It’s a significantly simplified game from its inspirations – each character goes in turns with two action points to spend on moving, attack and a hand of item and ability cards to spend. When you attack or use an offensive ability card, then you roll a die that is skew heavily toward success – it’s a 10-sided die with one failure and one double damage. You’ll want those successes, because you come across veritable hordes of enemies to try and battle your way through. It’s fun though, and pleasingly accessible where tabletop games will often have you flicking through rule books and figuring out numbered dice rolls.

Demeo PSVR 2 gameplay

Originally a VR-only game, it was adapted via Demeo: PC Edition’s full release at the tail end of 2022 to play on standard monitors, and both of these play modes have been combined for the jump to console. Buying the game on PS5 will let you play both on TV and pop on a PlayStation VR 2 to sit in the retro 80s themed basement around a physical table.

While you’re playing the same game, the experience feels surprisingly different. On flat screen, you have a clear view of the board, the window lined with turn-order, cards at the bottom of the screen, and the like. In VR, you’re physically picking up character models to move them, you’re reaching out to target enemies, you’re actually rolling a die which then bounces around the environment. It’s that much more active and engaging, and you can see other players around the table alongside you.

Demeo PS5 screenshot

I do wish there were alternate control options in VR, though. With analogue sticks on the Sense controllers, it feels like you should be able to use them to glide around the map, instead of pulling the board around with hand grabs – in fact, the only thing they do is tilt the table, which can be a bit disorientating. There’s a smidgeon of imprecision as well, with quite a few times where trying to roll an attack die has it just out of reach or mistargeted by my grabs – this seems to have improved over time with updates, though.

Beyond that, I just have the slightest of complaints that I wish you could have enemy health bars shown when trying to target them with an attack – you can see them at other times, but not when you most need to. Also, given the large numbers of enemies you face, I’d have liked to be able to wait with a character’s action to have a slightly deeper level of tactical planning, though it makes sense with co-op in mind that this isn’t a part of the package.

Demeo on PSVR 2

And co-op is really where this game shines. In a solo run with four characters, you know every hand available to you, every move, understand the enemy health, but in co-op you have to talk to each other and figure out the way ahead. Suggest strategies, cards and abilities that you can use, and more. It’s a fun experience scraping your way through a challenging floor, bemoaning every duff roll along the way.

Demeo is a fun and accessible digital board game, evoking games like HeroQuest with its turn-based dungeon-crawling. In VR it's a pleasingly tactile experience that's great to share with co-op friends, but if you need or prefer to play on a TV screen? Well that's still good too.
  • An excellently accessible digital tabletop board game
  • Pleasingly tactile in VR
  • Co-op play is a collaborative delight
  • Occasionally a little fussy with VR selections
  • Could feature a little more tactical depth for advanced play
  • Loses a certain something in TV play
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