If you wanted an RPG game with ‘good graphics’ back in the earliest days of the 1990s, your best bet was HeroQuest, the Milton-Bradley tabletop dungeon-crawler produced as a kind of introduction to Games Workshop’s more advanced Warhammer products. Demeo is a VR co-op board game designed specifically to evoke the best bits of games like HeroQuest, and today it’s available in a new PC edition that works on standard flat ‘pancake’ monitors.
In VR, Demeo has obvious charm: it recreates the feeling of being around a tabletop miniatures-based adventure game, complete with figures to manually move and dice to shake and roll. While the PC edition lacks the sense of presence that VR headsets provide, there’s still a remarkable physicality to Demeo on conventional monitors. Figures make a satisfying tok sound when you plop them down on the board, and the dice spin and bounce as they’re shaken with the mouse pointer. To attack a creature, you pick up your figure and tap the enemy with it.
During each character’s turn in Demeo, you have two action points to work with. You can spend those points on movement, attacks, or by using one of the cards in your hand. The cards you have available are determined by your character’s class, but you can add to your hand by finding treasures scattered around the dungeons, which, as in HeroQuest, are assembled from a selection of pre-made chunks in the game’s library.
You can get a sense of the vibe Demeo’s going for in the trailer for the PC edition:
There’s something magical about the table itself: rather that merely sitting on top of a virtual version of a normal table, the dungeons in Demeo are carved out of a dark void, so it feels as though you’re peering down into a tiny, expanding world that carves itself into the table’s surface. The PC version gives you full camera control, and there’s a nice tilt-shifted depth of field effect that makes it all look tabletop-scale even when you’re zoomed in close to the action.
During each Demeo session, your party of adventurers must clear three floors. The first two involve finding a key to unlock the way forward, while the third is a battle against a menacing boss. The game moves along briskly, although the best part is the ‘table talk’ between players as you try to strategise and plot out the best moves.
Demeo: PC Edition includes the base campaign, plus the two ‘adventure modules’ developer Resolution Games has produced since the VR edition launched last year. The PC edition will come bundled with the VR version, and current owners of the VR version will receive a PC edition when it launches. What’s more, the PC and VR editions are cross-play compatible, so you’ll be able to mix and match players using both versions in your party depending on who has which hardware and how everyone prefers to play.
Later this year, Resolution Games plans to launch a PvP mode that allows you to duke it out against your friends to determine who’s the baddest dungeon crawler of them all.
Demeo: PC Edition is available now in Early Access on Steam.