January 21, 2020
A love letter to and–at times–near facsimile of a Pokémon RPG, temtem is a challenging reprieve from the child-ridden fields of the Wild Area. Let me start by saying that comparatively to Pokémon–which is the theme of this review, and the game, for that matter–this game is extremely challenging, and does not seem to let up. 12 hours in and I feel like I have been grinding in the most Korean of MMORPGs, yet all I see are temtem.
Temtem is the name for the Pokémon-like creatures that you encounter in your journey throughout…Temlandia (Omninesia and other similarly forgettable names).
To be fair, the map is unlabeled and very basic, so it’s difficult to remember the names of anywhere in the temtem world without the interactive map some players so graciously made. The game warns you: this is NOT a finished game! Well, some things should have been finished before early access release, such as the map. Perhaps its intended to be the most basic line drawing with no labels, perhaps.
Similarities to what? Pokémon, of course! What else? The game that temtem was completely designed after. The game’s designers obviously are fans, and also obviously had some beef with how the franchise has evolved over the years, as there are many things about temtem that are exact copies, such as creature evolution (it’s actually called evolution) and “special” attacks and defense skills. Even the game’s progression is similar, sending you from town-to-town on quests, defeating the heads of each city’s dojo (instead of gyms). I could go on about the games’ similarities, but its differences are much more noteworthy.
As far as gameplay differences, your temtem’s skills do not have any PP, but instead use stamina as a similar mechanic. Over 12 hours into playing, and I still have not mastered this aspect of temtem matches. It is certainly one of the more challenging mechanics, the most challenging being the simple fact that typology (e.g. water-type moves being strong against fire-type creatures, etc.) matters much more than level, and that brute force does not become an option if the type you are using is not neutral strength at minimum or strong against the type you are facing, and is not weak to it either. This is a significant difference in comparison to Pokémon, where typology has mattered less in recent iterations and brute force allows you to essentially push your way through most early gym encounters. This is distinctly different in temtem, where it took me three tries to beat the first ‘dojo,’ and the difficulty level of my encounters has not gotten any easier since.
Another interesting difference is small quality-of-life type features, such as the ability to reorder my party on the fly as long as I’m not actively in an encounter. Another notable boon is the Temessence phial, an item which is refilled at every Temporium (Pokécenter) that essentially resets your entire party to full health and stamina which becomes very useful as you progress into areas with no Temporium. Unlike Pokémon, the game does not shower you with potions initially, and instead expects you figure out typology right from the start, and use it fairly effectively, too.
As far as general game design, one of the more noteworthy differences, at least in my opinion, is actually quite subtle. Instead of all the temtem being given Japanese names like Pokémon have, a lot of the temtem names derive from Spanish, such as Paharo (a bird temtem, based off the Spanish word for bird, ‘pájaro’). This is because the developer is Crema, a Spanish game studio. They did a pretty interesting AMA on Reddit about 7 months ago you can read here.
The most negative difference I have encountered, and this is comparative, is that temtem is extremely grindy when considering more recent Pokémon titles. I have spent nearly half my time so far in-game just trying to level my poor temtem which seem to die much faster than even the wild ones I encounter (like I said, the game is not forgiving even from the beginning). This creates a bit of boring gameplay and, honestly, makes me not able to sit down and play it for long periods at a time.
Don’t ask me about end game potential, because I am not able to put in the hours this week required to do so (upward of 50+ according to friends who have played more than I have), but I’m hoping the MMO aspect of temtem becomes important at that point, because up until that point you have zero interaction with the other players running around you throughout the world. You are unable to talk to them, only emote, and the MMO aspect seems to be merely a selling point–at least from the perspective of someone who hasn’t finished the game yet.
Overall, I think temtem deserves a play for anyone who is a Pokémon fan, no questions asked. However, players need to be aware that it will not be an exact walk in the park like they are used to, and that lots of time and effort will need to go in to making your temtem team strong and ready to “temtem up!”
- Great creature design
- Love letter to Pokémon
- Fairly flushed out for early access
- Challenging gameplay
- Map needs labels
- Extremely grindy
- Not a lot of temtem to choose from in early game