Taking a lot of inspiration from Pokemon, you’d not be wrong in thinking that Temtem a clone. However, after playing for 60 hours, here are my thoughts as to why it’s not. Temtem improves on the standard monster collection formula and creates a unique and memorable world which provides for an awesome and enjoyable experience. Being in early access, this review isn’t final – It is based on my own experiences with the available content at the time of writing.
Beginning the adventure, you expected a Pokemon MMO, and that’s what you’re greeted with, mostly. Before entering the world there’s a character creation screen, a much requested feature from Pokemon fans. Faces, hairstyles, and clothing options are limited, but you can purchase clothes within the game, as well as unlocking dyes to further modify your outfit.
Once created, your character wakes up in their room. You need to talk to your mum, select a starting Tem, and meet your rival (all of this sounds familiar, right?). However, the standard formula is quickly broken. Rather than the usual grass, water, fire combo all monster collectors have come to expect, you have the option between crystal, melee, and mental. You even lose your first battle.
Setting out on your adventure
Get used to losing, the game can be brutal and it’s not scared to throw a challenging battle your way at an inconvenient time. As you progress outside of the starting town this quickly become apparent, as even wild Tems and trainers put up a challenge. You will spend a lot of your Pansun (currency) on healing items. Tip: There’s a hidden item in the game that you acquire early on. It heals your party back to full health, and gets refilled each time you visit the Temporium (Pokemon Centre).
As you begin to level your party you notice that evolution appear inconsistent at first. Gone is the standard line of evolutions at a set level. Now it’s based on how many levels you gain with your Tem, regardless of the level they were captured at – There’s no in game counter for this. It’s always a surprise. I’ve not felt this sense of surprise since my childhood days, playing Pokemon on my Gameboy.
When you reach your first Dojo (gym) the leader is away. Your task? Battle through the enemy and get the leader back to safety! From a story perspective it seems silly that you’d have to rescue a Dojo leader, but from a gameplay perspective it makes sense. The first Dojo is brutal, and will see you wiped out many times if you’re not prepared. The rescue quest prior helps level your Tems, brings you up to speed when it comes to counters and tactics, and gives you an opportunity to capture some wild Tems to make that battle easier. Think of it like a tutorial, but without the handholding.
The battle system varies from Pokemon quite considerably. You’re now given a stamina bar. Instead of a finite number of uses per move, each move uses a set amount of stamina. The more powerful the move, the more stamina it uses. This regenerates a little each round, but if you use to much, forcing you to either rest or switch out your Tem mid battle. Gone are the days of spamming abilities until the other Monster faints. You will have to use your brain now.
What’s else is different?
The biggest distinction from Pokemon is that Temtem allows you to battle through the full story in co-op. While playing with a friend is fun, it isn’t a requirement to get the full experience as the game is just as enjoyable solo. Chat is active, players roam the game world, and overall it feels as lively solo as it does with a friend. Should you want to battle your friend, rather than with them, doing so is easy. First, both players need to be in the same zone. One player select the other players character in the menu. The other will receive a pop up, and accept the battle request. Quick and easy. The same applies gifting items, or private chat. Whether using mouse and keyboard, or controller, the menu is easy to navigate.
Talking about combat, every battle is 2 v 2? This makes for some fun gameplay. Not only does it look cool seeing 4 Tems on screen, but there are synergising skills between specific types. These skills add a modification to what would otherwise be the standard attack. Some slow, some poison, some do further damage. It’s another layer of difficulty and strategy that is missing from modern Pokemon games.
The ‘wow’ Factor
The best thing about this game (personally) is the combat – Specifically the animations and art styles. While 2 v 2 battles and a stamina system are a refreshing change of pace, the execution of abilities are the real ‘wow’ factor. The moves you use all have a unique animation with a lot of the more powerful moves filling up your screen with flashes and effects not seen in Pokemon. The developers have taken no shortcuts here.
Waves of water crashing around you, lightning storms raining electrical death from above, crystal shards exploding in every direction – Temtem doesn’t hold back. Seeing these for the first time, you’ll gaze in awe. A real ‘wow’ moment.
Why should I buy it?
So far this review has focused on compared Temtem to Pokemon. Moving away from this I’d like to mention the world of Temtem – It’s divided into Islands. At the time of writing there are four explorable islands. You start off in Deniz, the water and wind island. This theme spreads throughout the island design along, the Tems available for capture, and the Dojo leader. Each island in the game features a unique theme, art style, audio, and story. These themes are spread throughout – NPCs, buildings, Tems, trainers – Everything has a unique touch. This is brilliant to see and truly makes each island feel like a new world to explore.
The story you experience is rich with twists, turns and has mature themes. Although it is somewhat predictable, certain events do take you by surprise. It is much darker than the artwork has you believe. On the surface it may look like a simple game made to appeal to younger audiences. The themes explored in the main story however, show that the developers wanted to make a game that’d be taken seriously, and they’ve done so brilliantly. This is present in the side quests as well. Talking about side quests – Do them. The rewards are worth it. Should you want to make your adventures easier, or have your eyes set on the competitive scene, rewards from side quests are key.
The Discord community, in game chat, and competitive scene are all booming with players eager to help out (and put up a fight, should you challenge them). Should you ever feel stuck, everyone is more than helpful. It’s not a group of players playing the same game – It’s a true community. Launching on consoles in December, cross play is sure to grow the player base.
Overall Temtem offers a unique and enjoyable experience. It provides a refreshing take on the Monster collection genre. As the game is still in development, not all content is available. However, the developers have remained on track and content updates have arrived in a timely manner. Compared to other titles like it, Temtem is by far the best I have played. This game is a must buy if you’re a fan of the formula which made Pokemon a success.