Demeo is a tabletop action RPG that puts you with up to three other players in a co-op battle against pint-sized foes of all makes and models. The basement setting and Monster Manual-esque modules suggest a very in-depth D&D style gameplay experience, but it’s more akin to a more casual turn-based strategy game set in randomized dungeons. It offers a good opportunity to get back into playing board games with friends in a time when it’s not always the smartest idea to do so IRL, but I question whether Demeo has gone far enough to really utilize the full gamut of VR’s immersive possibilities.

Demeo Details:

Available On: Oculus Quest, SteamVR
Release Date: May 6th, 2021
Price: $30
Developer: Resolution Games
Reviewed On: Quest 2 – crossplay with SteamVR


Demeo offers both an online mode so you can play with up to three friends or strangers, and single player skirmish mode so you can bone up on your strategy. The idea of the game is to pick one of four heroes, traverse three dungeons and defeat the end boss together. You only have two action points at your disposal for each turn, so you need to choose wisely on whether you move or use an ability card to fight, heal, or hide.

At the time of launch, Demeo only comes with a single game module called ‘The Black Sarcophagus’, but as a roguelite strategy game it offers a randomization of dungeon configuration, ability cards, and both entry and exit locations on the map. More modules are coming too, with Resolution Games saying the next module, dubbed ‘Realm of the Rat King’, will arrive sometime in Summer 2021. Demeo is also slated to get regular post-launch updates for free, which will include new environments, enemies, and ability cards.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a quick and dirty how-to on actually playing Demeo, Resolution does a very fair job of explaining all of the basics in the short overview video below.

Foremost, Demeo is a competent tabletop game that hits many of the right beats. Although it only offers one particularly unforgiving difficultly mode, its generally impresses with its fine visual polish, well balanced combat mechanics, and not to mention the ability to bring VR players together in a virtual space for a night of safe and fun entertainment—that last one should not to be underestimated. It also offers hours of gameplay thanks to the randomization of ability cards and dungeon layout, and has just enough depth for anyone to pick up and play.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

When I say it’s unforgiving, I mean you’ll be bashing at ‘The Black Sarcophagus’ multiple times before you hit the perfect stride of good group communication, understanding all hero abilities, and recognizing the range of enemies crawling around so you know just how to attack and who to gang up on first. To finally break through and defeat the end boss, you’ll also need plenty of luck, patience for restarts, and foresight into which cards make the most sense to save and use. The fastest playthrough I had beating ‘The Black Sarcophagus’ module clocked in just under an hour, which doesn’t account for a few hours of failures beforehand.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

Both monster and hero abilities feel well balanced, with the edge going to the monsters for their ability to create enemy-spawning nests, making the onslaught near-infinite if you think you can just stay in one place. Conversely, if you jump ahead too quickly, or someone in your party decides to Leroy Jenkins themselves through a door without checking with everyone else, you may end up with more baddies than you can handle. This makes communication key to surviving and moving on the the next dungeon.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

If you can’t tell by now, I’ll just come out and say it. I like Demeo as a board game. It’s a very well executed game that, with only a few niggles, fits right alongside any other board game you might play with buddies on a Friday night. It feels unburdened from unnecessary fluff, but also isn’t terribly revolutionary either for virtual reality. When it comes to its implementation as a native VR game, it left me wanting more. I really wanted to see more VR-specific mechanics that would set it apart from similar games on a traditional monitor, but I’ll talk more about that in the Immersion section below.

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Again, I like Demeo for its clear execution and intention as a tabletop game, I just wished there was more reason for it to be in VR and not on a flatscreen. Consequently it’s also going to be on traditional PC monitors at some point too, which may be the biggest clue as to why it’s designed the way it is.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

Let me take a step back for a second though. Everything is dripping with style in Demeo, which includes the cool nostalgia-soaked basement for that suitably ’80s feel. If you get down close enough to the action—that can be done by ‘stretching’ the world with both motion controllers—character models and animations can also be really fun to watch too. It certainly evokes a Star Wars-style HoloChess vibe.

Granted, getting that close to inspect enemies and heroes alike is fairly pointless when it comes to actually playing. After settling into the game, you’ll probably end up ignoring most of those rightfully cool things as you toggle the ability to view the world at a 45-degree angle tilt so you don’t strain your neck from constantly looking downward.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

Avoiding the inevitable neck strain, at that point it basically becomes a game you might well play on traditional monitors, as your motion controller becomes glorified laser pointers to select and move pieces. Hand models just feel too unnatural in how they grip things to make it feel like the obvious first choice—it’s just too damn fiddly to pick up a single piece from a cluster.

That raises the question: what does Demeo bring to VR that a game on traditional monitors can’t? The answer is very little. I was really hoping to see more VR-specific game mechanics, like skill-based interludes, moments for roleplay, or something that would put me more into the game; being able to shrink down to nearly the size of a character doesn’t really cut it.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

I found that playing Demeo is decidedly less dependent on your ability to see your fellow players, and more on your ability to speak to one another without looking and maybe gesture occasionally. Even then, gesturing is abstracted away in multiplayer mode by emphasizing an air drawing tool which you can use to clearly indicate where you want to go next.

Despite avatar accessories (along with different dice and character themes), it’s clear Demeo is putting much less emphasis on face-to-face player interactions. I just wish there was more reason to have that sort of player-to-player connection in Demeo, like being able to pass them something they might need or want.


Neck comfort is no joke. The human neck isn’t made to carry unbalanced loads for very long, and stress injury is a real thing. At the risk of harming immersion, you can thankfully tilt the table by a variable amount if you want to get even a full front-facing bird’s eye view of the action. I highly recommend this if you’re going to play for more than an hour at a time. That advisory even goes for users with the Quest 2’s Elite Battery Strap offsetting the headset’s weight somewhat.

You can remain seated and play with a natural view of the table, however you’ll probably want to move around quite a bit to get better angles. This is done by grabbing the world with one motion controller, which feels entirely comfortable. Resizing the world by ‘stretching’ it with both hands can feel a little jarring to begin with, but provided you’re not flying around and resizing constantly, you should have an exceedingly comfortable gameplay session.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • I’ll def be giving this one a go.

  • Jarom Madsen

    I agree about wishing for more “skill-based interludes”. I initially got very excited about the initial teaser and then realized it was just a well polished tabletop simulator.

    I do, however, honestly hate the argument about whether something “should be in VR” or not based on quantity of VR-exclusive interactions. I will always argue that even just gaining stereo 3D is a huge net gain. A score of 5 in immersion seems unusually low for how well crafted the game is. It might not be more than just a tabletop simulation but at least it’s a very good tabletop sim and I would argue is very good at “immersing” you in a tabletop setting. Better than 5/10 at the very least.

    • Totally agree with you on your first and second points in that second paragraph.

      I would absolutely love to have a VR version of HeroQuest for example that’s basically this.

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      • NotMikeD

        Have you tried out TableTop Simulator’s Workshop Content HeroQuest – Master Edition? It recreates all of the HeroQuest content and expansions. It is quite simply a 1:1 recreation of HeroQuest and all content ever made for it (and then some) in VR. I love Demeo, but the HQ mod does a far more accurate job of authentically recreating the experience of sitting around a digital table and playing that game. It’s basically perfect.

    • wheeler

      I think for many people–especially veteran VR users like Scott–simply having a VR perspective isn’t enough anymore. The spectacle has been exhausted and vs flat visuals there are still major downsides. You see this even with flight sim and racing sim types–most go back to flat screen eventually because VR is (currently) just so much worse in terms of comfort and usability/effectiveness. If VR display and input engineers can solve many of the problems underlying that then we may have a different story on ours hands, but until then users that have exhausted the spectacle need something to make the VR aspect worthwhile and for the most part this largely comes from good VR specific interactions.

      For a new VR user I don’t think the above review would be well suited–perhaps something like uploadvr’s review would be better (and unsurprisingly that site is almost entirely Quest focused). But for post honeymoon VR users like myself I find Scott’s review quite helpful.

      • Jarom Madsen

        I am certainly past the “honeymoon VR” phase for certain. Been around since DK1 days. And to use the DK1 as an example, I played a ton of Time Rifters right up until Oculus was bought by Facebook and deprecated all early VR support. As a result, I don’t play Time Rifters anymore because playing without stereo 3D and head tracking is a shadow of the experience.

        Different strokes for different folks of course. For some, the friction of getting in a VR headset needs to pay off more than just stereoscopic 3D and headtracking. I’d also argue that there are some still chasing that honeymoon feeling by looking for the next gimmick instead of just appreciating the actual benefits VR provides at a baseline. Kind of a “trough of disillusionment” area to be in on the hype cycle.

        As for me, honestly if VorpX was a bit more consistent I’d play every 3D game in VR because it’s just more immersive and engaging than on a flat screen. I know I’m not changing any opinions on the matter, pretty sure there’s a R2VR article somewhere about how bad injectors are for the industry because they encourage lazy VR implementation. For Demeo though? For the game it’s trying to be, I’d say Resolution did their job and it’s as “immersive” as it’s going to get.

      • sethsez

        As someone who’s been using VR since the Virtual I/O iGlasses, who bought a Sony HMZ-T1 and modded it with TrackIR, and who’s had every Oculus headset since the DK1 (and several lighthouse and WMR headsets along the way as well, just for good measure)…

        I love the level and type of interactivity in this game.

        It does precisely what it promises to do: it recreates the feeling of playing a board game with friends sitting around a table, down to making movement, dice-chucking and card usage feel satisfyingly tactile. If I wanted more action-oriented interactions than that, the VR market is absolutely filled to the brim with them, but this aims to recreate an experience not much else is offering and it’s doing it exceptionally well, using VR like a scalpel rather than a chainsaw.

        In other words, if your reaction to PokerStars VR was “why would I play that when I could play virtual poker anywhere else, with the exact same game mechanics, by just clicking the cards in a simple interface” then this might not be for you. But if your reaction to PokerStars VR was “hell yeah, I love playing poker with friends and this feels just like that” then know that Demeo does the same thing with a tabletop board game.

      • Doon1

        What is your source for stating that pilots and drivers are leaving VR? This is the first time I’ve heard it.

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Sad that the graphics are hardly upgraded on the PCVR version; another “developed for Quest / ported to PC” casualty.

    • sethsez

      It’s a virtual board game. What kind of graphical effects or fidelity are you expecting here? The genre limits the visuals far more than the platform does, there’s only so much you can add. A even if a Quest version didn’t exist this is still the kind of game that would aim for a low-spec release, because nobody’s going to require a 1080 for a virtual board game.

  • care package

    Table top games BELONG on VR period. I’ve got monopoly for flat panel and it would be so much more fun in VR.

  • Doon1

    I have both the O and O+ headsets. I kept the O with hopes my wife would get into VR gaming with me. It made her a little woozy so that didn’t happen. The O’s been sitting on a shelf for almost 2 1/2 years now. I showed her Demeo last week. Then promptly bought two copies. Been playing it nightly since then. So glad there’s a game a couple of old folks can play together.