Gotta catch t’em all, online, with friends in our Temtem review!
Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, to date. Yes, more than Star Wars, more than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, more than any other household name. It’s done so not only by its video games getting their start on the GameBoy in 1996, but by expanding into fascinating trading cards, now-nostalgic movies, must-have plushes, and more. There have been other popular franchises looking to capture the fire of this formula with moderate success, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Digimon, both of which are still going strong to this day. And of course more recent series like Nexomon, drawing direct inspiration from the beloved monster-battler.
But I have never experienced something as close to Pokemon as Temtem, a “creature-collection adventure” from developers Crema. The hook for this game is its massively multiplayer online RPG integration, allowing you to experience the game with a crowd a la World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2.
Getting some serious deja vu here.
This has to be stated from the get-go, as it’s all I could concern myself with from the very start: Temtem is unabashedly a Pokémon clone. Games are inspired by other games, that’s an unavoidable fact – but when one games copy/pastes a formula so glaringly obviously as Temtem, it left a bad taste in my mouth for the duration of my review. That’s not to say it isn’t for both better and worse, because Temtem does a lot of things right; it’s just concerning when every second feels like something you’ve experience before. I’ll go more in-depth throughout this review, as Temtem isn’t just a shameless cash grab or without its polish. When all is said and done, how does this game turn out?
If you’ve played a Pokémon game before – and chances are, you have – you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Temtem follows in the footsteps of the pocket-monster archetype. Before things get started, you’ll get a crack at a character creator with a decent amount of options. After that, you’ll get tutorialized in your starting town before setting out into the first island of the Airborne Archipelago. You’ll have a rival confront you and wipe the floor with you with one of their digital Temtem, showcasing how much better you’ll have to get to stand a chance in this game.
Temtem have types that work better in different situations; finding the perfect combination of types against appropriate enemies is the key to winning battles.
Setting out, you’ll be roadblocked by Temtem trainers forcing you into a fight, after making your way through chance encounters in tall grass. There’s eight dojos to power your way through across all six islands, and an antagonist by the name of Clan Belsoto that will make things harder every step of the way. There’s not much to write home about in Temtem’s story, as you’ll be spending the majority of your time battling.
The presentation within Temtem is more on the minimal side. This is nice because it makes it a great multi-platform affair, as it’s on all new-gen consoles and runs at high framerates with no issues. Some of the facial expressions feel out-of-place, but the Temtem have solid designs and are enjoyable enough for players to get attached and choose favorites.
Temtem lets you tackle missions at your own pace, which makes the need for leveling up/evolving not too frustrating.
The user interface is intuitive and everything is organized in a fashion where players won’t be sifting through a backpack for long to accomplish what they want to; this part is massively-appreciated for those who don’t want the unavoidable grind to be more tedious than it has to be. There’s ample variety between environments, from the grassy starting island to the molten Anak Volcano. Temtem does what it can to ensure the gameplay is seamless, while doing their best to insert charm when they can.
Now, the bread and butter of Pokemon games are its turn-based battles. I shudder to think of the amount of hours spent worldwide across its games were merely in these creature-combat affairs. Temtem operates largely the same; you encounter the enemy, you attack in succession based on agility, you can use items to heal, certain types counter other types, so on and so forth. Temtem doesn’t do much in its core mechanics to separate itself from Pokémon; it’s saved by allowing you to team up with others in its MMORPG format.
Double battles? Now where have I seen this format before…
Once the tutorial ends, you’ll see several other “tamers” going through the same process as you, and you can team up in just about any battle. With that said, the Temtem experience is massively enhanced if you have a friend to enjoy it with. Alone, it’s serviceable, but it feels like something’s missing if you’re just passing all of the other players by.
Temtem‘s soundtrack is quite comprehensive in that its string and piano leads mesh well with the situation at hand. You’ll obviously hear the battle music a ton, but it doesn’t get old as quickly as you may think. More grand-scale battles, like dojo masters and Belsoto baddies, get their own music with more urgency.
Temtem will make their unique sound every time they enter battle or are looked at in your backpack, and of all the things this game copies, this is one of the more endearing bits. The impact of your Temtem’s attacks and powerups are satisfying enough, as well, as there’s no shortage of attacks to learn and experience throughout the journey.
Temtem is a perfectly-playable game; there’s no pesky bugs or glitches, or anything glaring that the QA team didn’t catch before the game saw its 1.0 release in September. But when it comes to the fun factor, it’s evident what went wrong for me to not get the same enjoyment that I would out of a Pokémon title. While Temtem executes all of its systems to the T to entice fans of Pokémon, it needs to do more than that to make it stand out and reach the immensely-high bar that Pokémon has set.
Temtem feels like a beat-for-beat recreation of Pokémon… from the second you wake up.
With a current $45 price tag, it’s not necessarily lacking in content at that price point, but it begs to question, how much money has to be spent to enjoy Temtem if your friends want to play with you? Better yet, why jump into this when Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are right around the corner?
So, why should you play it?
- You’re a Pokémon fanatic and are craving more of the formula.
- You don’t have a Nintendo Switch but want to experience Pokémon.
- Seriously, this is a game custom-made for Pokémon lovers that just want more.
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are releasing November 18th, so fans likely aren’t looking for a diversion.
- The copy/paste nature of Temtem towards Pokémon is offensive to you.
- You don’t want to grind for hours to make your Temtem team strong.
A review code of Temtem was provided courtesy of Humble Games for the purpose of this review. Enjoyed our Temtem review? Check out the Pokémon-inspired Nexomon in our review!
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