Temtem challenges itself with an uphill battle in its easy comparisons to Pokemon. While it’s simple to shrug it off as a mere clone, Temtem offers just enough unique content to keep it fresh, blending the monster-catching craze with heavy – yet generally friendly – MMO mechanics. It’s a step in the right direction for monster collecting, but is it enough to pull long-time Pokemon fans away?
Developed by Crema, Temtem is a familiar game. On your first day of being a tamer, you meet the local professor who gives you one of his three Tems. You are then immediately challenged to a battle with your hometown rival before setting off to collect all of these strange and adorable monsters. You’ll head from dojo to dojo to challenge their leaders and earn your way up the ranks at each city, all while battling a criminal organization with nefarious plans. Temtem is a game that takes the Pokemon formula both narratively and mechanically and gives it a facelift with some modern quality of life improvements that Pokemon hasn’t quite approached yet.
Tem battles are fought in doubles matches, with two Tem at a time to battle your opponents. Some of Temtem’s new features will have you stumble into amazing Tem pairs, utilizing their unique attributes. My starting Tem, Crystle, gains bonus damage for his special attack if his partner is a Wind type. He also has the Amphibious trait where taking Water type damage increases his speed and attack power. I also equipped him with an Umbrella that reduces incoming Water damage by 15%. This means if I pair Crystle with any Wind type and he gets hit with a Water attack his damage output is massive just from selecting a single attack. There are an incredible number of useful combinations just like this across the 160 Tems to be found and tamed.
Ya Need Lots of Stamina
Another of Temtem’s fantastic improvements is the stamina system for attacks. Rather than a set number of uses, Tem’s have a stamina bar. Each attack uses stamina, and a small portion is regenerated each round. Should a Tem run out of stamina, you can command them to rest for a turn to regain a larger portion. It is also possible to perform an attack that would otherwise go below 0 stamina – an attack that needs 14 stamina but you only have 10 – but doing so will cause your Tem to hurt itself and be unable to attack the next turn. Features like these add some much-needed depth of strategy to what is an otherwise stale combat system. Despite these improvements, there are still a few strange missteps along the way.
As noted, Temtem is an MMO. You’ll see other players sprinting around the world on their quest to be the best, but it also means you’ll find plenty of MMO features in the mix. This includes peculiar side quests which can’t be completed for several hours as they involve talking to someone in a town you’ve never been to or a large number of backtracking fetch quests. What’s more problematic is a general lack of instruction. It seems like Temtem expects you to already be familiar with Pokemon so it doesn’t need to elaborate much on mechanics like typing. If I had gone into Temtem without playing a Pokemon game, I would have struggled from the start.
Collecting Adorable Monsters That Don’t Quite Have A Heart
Temtem also changes some of the typing for their monsters, which changes the dynamic and balancing of advantage and disadvantage. Crystal type is seemingly a stand-in for Rock, but Fire has the advantage over Crystal because it can melt it. Flying is replaced with Wind, and Poison is changed to Toxic. Toxic, in this sense, is more like a toxic cloud, so Wind has an advantage against it as it can blow away the cloud. In Pokemon, this would be like Flying having the advantage over Poison. There is also no in-game chart to see the types and advantages, and these changes don’t seem quite as logical as the ones they are emulating.
In combat, Tem’s can either deal normal damage, half damage, quarter damage, double damage, or quadruple damage based on typing combos. While the amount of damage dealt is displayed, there really is no other consistent way of knowing what is best. Targetting an opponent features a white circle. When it won’t be effective it turns red, and sometimes it turns yellow. I took this to mean it would be highly effective. However, that isn’t always the case and at no point are the circles explained. I’ve had a white circle do quadruple damage and normal damage. I’ve had a yellow circle do double damage and normal damage. I can’t be quite sure what they are supposed to mean.
The main draw to Temtem is collecting all the Tems. The monsters are all distinct creatures, often giving the necessary visual cues as to their typing. The only problem is that none of them are particularly memorable. While some of them have clever names, others seem generic and forgettable. Pokemon succeeds by leaning into the personality of their monsters. Though well designed, none of the Tems stand out. I don’t find myself attached to one as my favorite. The world itself is beautiful to behold. There’s plenty of verticality to explore, water to surf on, and vibrant colors that pop. It’s a feast for the eyes and an incredibly warming experience to play.
Brilliant World Design With Beautiful Colors
As an MMO, Temtem offers a full Pokemon-style campaign, clans to join, and weekly replayable dojo battles with increasing difficulty. There is also Tem breeding and a whole host of side quests to complete. You can also decorate your home as well as purchase and sell clothing. There are also weekly and seasonal rewards to collect through consistently playing and leveling up your Tamer. Temtem strikes a delicate balance between the monster collecting gameplay and typical MMO mechanics, but in balancing both it doesn’t excel at either.
Temtem is a unique yet familiar take on the monster-collecting genre. Its blend of MMO mechanics gives it the potential for a long-running, sustainable community with more to enjoy than a single-player narrative. The new combat mechanics are a fantastic upgrade. However, the Tems themselves and the overall lack of guidance aren’t quite up to standards. Tems aren’t that memorable themselves and many of their names just don’t click. Having no guidance on typing, advantages, or explanations on a number of smaller features drops the enjoyment of gameplay. It’s a great experience, but it expects you to already have a certain amount of knowledge of both genres before picking up the controller.
***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Innovative, Fresh Combat Features
- Excellent Level Design
- Beautiful Art
- Plenty Of Customization Features
- Strange Typing Changes
- Lack Of Guidance
- Tems Lack Personality