Bottom line: Temtem is a shallow imitation of Pokémon, though the little things it does to mix up the formula go a long way at making it feel fresh. In its current form, it's no Pokémon rival, but being in Early Access means it has plenty of room to grow.
- Double battles mix up the formula
- The thrill of capturing Temtem
- Gameplay inspired by Pokémon
- Menus can be hard to navigate
- UI needs to be more intuitive
- Need to run twice from battles
- Lacks the magic behind Pokémon
Temtem wears its heart on its sleeve. It clearly wants to be a Pokémon-inspired MMO, going so far as to copy its formula almost right down to the letter. This is a boon in some areas and a detriment in others. Exploration and combat are largely similar to Nintendo's iconic series with a few twists, most notably that battles are almost always double battles. Its creature collection aspect is still addicting but lacks the sheer nostalgia factor in Pokémon that makes you want to catch 'em all.
Despite this, it's more than a cheap knockoff like some might think. Developer Crema takes its own artistic liberties and attempts to make it even better than Pokémon in some ways. It doesn't always succeed, but I appreciate the effort. That it's only in Early Access right now bodes well for its future because it definitely has legs with the proper support in the months ahead.
Temtem What I like
Because it is inspired by Pokémon, it makes it a lot easier to get into it without any confusion. Though there are different Temtem types than what Pokémon uses, they're still similar enough that fans of the latter franchise will feel at home. Water is weak against Nature (Grass). Fire is weak against Water. Wind (Flying) is weak against Electric. You can generally tell how you need to approach a battle if you've played Pokémon before.
And like Pokémon, discovering Temtem is a delight. There are well over 100 creatures you can tame across the Airborne Archipelago, consisting of six unique islands (4 of which are playable on PS5 right now), each with their own Temtem that you can find. Deniz, the island you start on, features a lot of Wind Temtem, though other types can still be found. Figuring out how to get rare and powerful Temtem is part of the fun.
Mixing up the classic 1v1 battles found in Pokémon into 2v2 was a nice touch, but what I like more is the addition of stamina instead of PP. Moves can only be performed by draining your stamina, and if you run out, your Temtem will hurt itself from overexertion. No matter if you're battling an untamed Temtem or another Tamer (Trainer), you can skip your turn to let your Temtem rest and regain stamina. It makes battling a bit more interesting when you have to manage their stamina like this.
There's a lot more to discover in Temtem than what I was able to experience so far, and this has me excited for what it could be. There's Luma and Mythical Temtem, a riff on shinies and legendaries, Dojo leaders to battle, puzzles to solve, and a villainous team to thwart.
Temtem What I don't like
I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers the other day, and he brought up a good point. If you're going to copy a formula brazenly, you need to do it better than the original. Temtem just doesn't accomplish this. It's like the developers went into Pokémon, took out keywords, replaced them for new ones, and called it a day. Escape ropes? Those are now Smoke Bombs. Repel? Temtem uses scents. Gym Leaders? Get ready to battle a Dojo Leader. It has all the hallmarks of a Pokémon game with none of the magic.
Using its menus can quickly turn into a struggle to. It's often unclear which menus are highlighted because the highlighted one appears grey, and the non-highlighted one is a bright blue. Intuition would make you think the opposite. Delving even further into its menu woes, what I don't like about this 2v2 battle system is that I need to run twice from encounters with untamed Temtem, once for each Temtem I have out on the field. It's a strange system that I found increasingly annoying. It eventually became muscle memory to press the D-pad a couple of times and run from a battle.
One of the big marketing points behind Temtem is that it's an MMO, but I don't know what that offers the game right now. There's a section to open up a chat with players that is in desperate need of moderation, and people don't seem to pay any attention when you try to interact with them, at least in my experience with it. For the most part, other players either ignored my challenges to battle, and I'd watch the timer run down, or I'd receive a notification that they were busy.
Temtem Should you buy it?
With Temtem only in Early Access on PS5 and PC, it can only go up from here. The groundwork is there for an addicting experience; I'm just not sure if people will buy into it at the moment. It's hard to recommend for nearly $40 when you can go out and buy Pokémon Sword or Shield for $60, but if you don't have a Nintendo Switch, this may be the next best thing.
3 out of 5
Temtem is sure to go through a lot of growing pains, but I like what's there for the most part. It almost feels unfair to compare it to Pokémon, but it's such a clone that it can't be avoided. As it stands on its own, it's a decent creature collection title with the potential to be much better.
Jennifer Locke is Android Central's Games Editor and has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.
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