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That's how I feel about the new virtual reality game Demeo. And it's awesome. And all of that happens on-demand within a genius VR implementation? Yes, please. I Gaming friend dd this stuff—a blend of tabletop and digital co-op gaming with a dash of real-life presence—and I wish I'd had it earlier. Specifically, I wish I'd had it for the past 15 months. In fact, it's arguably missing a critical "early access" tag.

Even so, Demeo is the game I've been dreaming of—nay, screaming for—since I first strapped into the earliest Oculus Rift prototype inand its arrival at the tail end of COVID-related quarantine is certainly bittersweet. And Demeo's mix of smooth controls and clever de principles makes it an absolute gas to play, all without requiring a "Dungeon Master. With your character choices locked in, your adventuring party lands in a randomly generated dungeon, and the dungeon's full shape appears as a blacked-out series of rooms hidden by a "fog of war".

Your mission: find a key, find a door, and kill whichever monster is defending said door. You might want to kill other monsters along the way, as well. Demeo 's first VR catch is how it positions its players around a virtual table.

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You don't play as the figures on the table, after all; you're the overseers and lords hovering above, hands and he visible to each other. Everything you do resembles hanging out in a friend's basement. The deers at Resolution Games lean into this setup by building a virtual, wood-carved table as Demeo's centerpiece, then they drape the nearby virtual walls in classic nerd-basement fare like posters, couches, old consoles, and CRT TVs.

Whether you stand or sit in Gaming friend dd life, each player hovers over the board as disembodied he and hands, tracked as they move in real life. If you have the real-life space for it, you can walk around the entirety of the board, but Demeo also includes a nifty "grab the board" VR gimmick for simulated movement if you'd prefer to sit. Use one or two hands to move around the board, or pinch to grow or shrink yourself to whatever scale you want.

Once you're comfortable, use your real-life hand to grab minis, pick cards, roll dice, and gesture toward the board as appropriate. Crossplay, meanwhile, lets players from each ecosystem easily chat with each other. In one test, a cohort had to reboot a Quest 1 heet to get voice chat working, but the players couldn't reproduce the error.

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Keep this in mind as I describe the game's mechanical underpinnings, because Resolution Games gets a ton of things right here—just not everything. Before a campaign begins, players congregate in a safe starting zone to chat and get a handle on how the game works.

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When it's your turn, you'll see a glowing zone around your character's figurine aka your "mini"and its radius varies based on your class. Move your hand in real-life until your virtual hand hovers over your hero, then press a button to pick it up. You can drop your mini anywhere within the glowing zone to move further through the dungeon. This costs one action point, and you get two action points per turn.

Each session requires moving minis a few times until they can touch and unlock an opening door. And that sequence cleverly guarantees everyone is up to speed with the basics: "grabbing" the table to reposition yourself, picking up minis, and seeing how movement and action points play off each other. Once a session Gaming friend dd in earnest, if any enemies are in your glowing zone during your turn, placing your mini near them will activate a red highlight that indicates that you'll melee-attack that monster.

The highlight also shows which side of the monster you'll stand on when your attack ends. This move-and-attack combo only costs one action point. Unlike traditional tabletop games, Demeo 's current version offers very few noncombat options. Players cannot get into conversations that might require "diplomacy. You can't even activate "acrobatics" to determine Gaming friend dd or not your character can successfully jump across a gap. You pick them up and move them around a board in VR, and the sensation is fantastic. Though, really, you'll play Demeo as a floating series of he and hands, alongside Internet-connected friends, as if you're gathered around a real-life table of fantasy and battling.

Pick through actions and items, represented by cards, when it's your turn. The at the top of each card represents how many "action points" it costs to use, and you get two action points per turn which can also be spent on movement and basic melee attacks. Resolution Games. This seems like a good attack option for Gaming friend dd tank character surrounded on all sides. Much like the Battle Chess of yore, Demeo 's figurines come to life in combat. Pick up and place your cards to activate them. A smaller radius will appear to reflect things like area-of-effect AoE attacks.

When it's your turn, a glowing zone determines where you can move and attack. After picking an attack option, roll a die—and cross your fingers that it doesn't land on a skull, which counts as a "critical miss. The monsters aren't necessarily deed to be zoomed in on so tightly, but if you want to see them take damage from up close, you can pinch the game board to zoom in. Open a door, and beware the randomly generated monsters behind it. Shoot bombs to make them blow up and damage anything nearby. This will harm enemies and allies alike. This gallery begins with a class-by-class breakdown.

The Guardian's ability to regenerate a shield makes it an essential frontline fighter in Demeo. Every turn, the Sorcerer can regenerate ranged electricity attacks that stun foes. The Assassin is the only class that does more damage when its melee attacks are positioned from behind. The Hunter's constantly regenerating arrows do a ton of damage, and its animal companions are a real treat. Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Snippets from the in-game tutorial. It begins by telling you to pick up your mini, as seen here. More clarification about your glowing golden radius of movement. FYI: Even if you roll the die off the table, its landing side still counts. Instead of s, Demeo 's dice keep it simple: hit, crit, and miss. Attack by dropping cards directly where you want them to do damage.

Sam Machkovech Sam has written about the combined worlds of arts and tech since his first syndicated column launched in He can regularly be found wearing a mask in Seattle, WA. sam. Channel Ars Technica.

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