For a game like Temtem, its obvious inspirations from Pokémon can be seen throughout, and many may be turned off by that, dismissing it as a simple clone. However, there seem to be some fine-tuned differences that help set Temtem apart from the beloved monster-capturing classic.
For years — perhaps even a decade and some change — fans have been working on making a proper, online Pokémon game that takes the core game and adds the ability to play with friends over the internet, allowing trading, battling and more. Nearly every nuance I’ve personally seen has been struck down by Nintendo (and rightfully so) to deter losing sales to some fan mod or small team project. After playing it, however, I feel Temtem has finally bridged the gap between the source material and innovation and has come out with something that totally feels like a new product with plenty of differences to set it apart.
Temtem begins the game similarly to Pokémon, letting you choose your type of elemental Temtem (one of three) and meet up with your rival Max, someone you’ll be meeting up with for the rest of the game. You then take off on a quest to find the best team of Temtems and defeat six different leaders of the evil Clan Belsoto. This is the stuff you would come to expect from a Pokémon game, and that makes sense — the team has openly admitted their love for the series and that they always wanted to make their perfect version of the game. It’s the changes in gameplay and them adding true MMO-style multiplayer to the mix that helps set the game apart from the source material.
Battles in Temtem are doubles, as in two-versus-two battles. Elemental gameplay is still forefront, but you can actually have Temtems that can do two different types of elemental attacks, similarly to the TM system, but naturally occuring. In Temtem, instead of using pokéballs, you use Temcards to catch creatures. You lower the creature’s HP in much the same way before you catch it, but the cards look much cooler, in my opinion, as the creatures are shown sort of like a floating holograph within each card.
During battles, you have a particular amount of stamina that is used up with your attacks, which you can refill by taking a ‘rest’ between turns. Use too much stamina, however, and your Temtem will actually take damage from fatigue. This stamina system is certainly an improvement over the typical formula of ‘spamming the same attack ‘til you win’ strategy found in nearly every single Pokémon game, and having it so you have to juggle these points adds an extra layer of strategy to the battles.
Multiplayer gameplay in Temtem feels a lot like an MMO from the early 2000s, but in a good way. It’s comforting to see players chatting it up in ‘all’, trying to figure out how the game works. Having that built-in resource is a great addition to a monster-catching game such as this, as you can literally just ask someone who has gone through the same stuff as you instead of scouring the internet for answers. You can also trade other players Temtems, making it a source of unparalleled benefit as you can exchange unwanteds to help build up your Tempedia — since there are dozens of people running by you at any given moment, that means there are even more opportunities to get what you want.
I love the art style in Temtem, as its bright, well-designed creatures seem to fit well in the island-based environments. I feel the game greatly improves and expands the idea that monsters and their particular design don’t have to represent their elemental type. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it does help set it apart and make the game more than just a rock-paper-scissors fight between brightly colored creatures. Your primary Temtem can also be found following you around the game world, which is a nice feature and it’s quite cool to see everyone else running around with theirs. It gives the online world a little bit extra pizzazz and, while it doesn’t seem like much, it feels more alive for it. Lastly, there’s a cute little flying pig Temtem named Pigepic, and this alone greatly improves everything about the game.I am excited to see where the future takes Temtem. Based off what I’ve played so far, it certainly seems like they have a solid start and a bright future ahead.