With the first expansion to Pokémon Sword and Shield still half a year away, avid Pokémon Masters are chomping at the bit for something to fill the time. Luckily, a game that’s just hit Steam’s Early Access program, might just be the thing they’re looking for. I’m, of course, talking about Temtem.
Despite sounding like something out of The Flintstones, Crema Games’ new monster collection game is decidedly modern. One thing that’s clear with Temtem is that they’ve done their research into what makes other games in the genre such as Pokémon, Digimon, Yokai Watch, etc. successful. And with that, they’ve used this knowledge to build a world that includes all the most wanted features that fans of monster-catching games have requested over the year. It’s also fair to say that a lot of love and hard work has been put in behind the scenes, with Crema Games working overtime to hotfix the game, as it’s overnight popularity has led to a host of bugs rearing their ugly heads.
What Makes It Special and What Needs Improvement?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Temtem was just another Pokémon-look-alike, but the game works hard to surpass it’s predecessor, adding in a variety of features that are sure to catch the eye of veteran Pokémon Trainers.
Although Pokémon Sword and Shield has some online features that allowed you to see the avatars of other players, the ways you could interact and communicate with your fellow Trainers was incredibly limited. Temtem, however, throws you into an active MMO-style system from the get-go. As soon as you start your journey across the Airborne Archipelago, you’ll be able to see not only other players and their Temtems but also battle and trade with them, providing, of course, they accept your requests. Thankfully, due to the magic of instancing, areas never seem overpopulated and it’s very easy to pick NPCs out of the crowd, so don’t worry about losing your way in a sea of people and critters.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the world of Temtem, is the inclusivity, right from the start, you have the option to choose between female, male, and non-binary pronouns and body shapes, which is sadly absent from most other games despite it being 2020. There’s also a decent selection of clothing and color pallette options out of the gate, with more styles unlocked as you progress through the game.
Temtem features a vibrant pastel-shaded landscape known as the Airborne Archipelago, a series of floating islands traversed by airship. As stated above, there’s a wide range of customization in the game and most of the NPCs you’ll come across are generated using the character creator, with only key NPCs receiving custom designs. This does, unfortunately, make it difficult to tell what Temtem your opponent is carrying ahead of time, something Pokémon figured out from day one. The battle system itself is interesting, as you’ll always enter your Temtem battles with a team of two, but NPC characters can throw out single Temtem if they’re fighting you alone instead of as a duo, which is fairly common in this setting.
When it comes time to add new Temtem to your team, instead of balls, you’ll entrap your new friends within cards, which does mean that if the Temtem lifestyle doesn’t work out, your character could always find work as a Yu-Gi-Oh! antagonist. The animation that plays when you attempt a capture is a little too long in my opinion and there’s no discernable tell to how far along the capture has progressed unlike in the Pokémon series where Pokéballs have a limit of three shakes before you know you’ve captured your creature.
The type system implemented in the game is probably one of the hardest things to get used to, especially because the in-game menu icons don’t provide a clear indication of which attacks are effective against which Temtem, something I hope will be worked on going forward as it makes the 2v2 battles especially frustrating.
Another area that will need improvement during early access is the dialogue, which at the best of times so far has felt incredibly stilted and uninformative. Quest NPCs will request items from towns you’ve never heard of and give no direction on how you’d go about reaching said places. That being said, one nice change is the inclusion of dialogue tree’s something that although the Pokémon series has, it typically doesn’t do much. It’s just a shame that a lot of the dialogue is uninteresting and rarely ever helpful.
One thing that needs to be worked on is the placement and Temtem level of NPC trainers, right now there’s a large disparity between the level of wild Temtems you’ll find in a given area and the ones thrown at you by challengers, also of issue is the types of Pokémon these trainers have at their disposal, with some not appearing until 30-40 minutes down the road. This also highlights another problem, namely that there’s not a great variety of Temtem area-to-area. After playing for a good five hours, I’ve maybe encountered a dozen different unique Temtems through wild encounters, and most of the encounters I’ve had have been the same two types of Temtem over and over and over again.
4. The Temtem
Designing an entirely new roster of colorful, distinguishable, and likable monsters is always going to be a challenge, especially when there’s nearly 1,000 Pokémon and a countless number of Digimon, Yokai, Metabots, etc. to contend with, and Temtem certainly suffers because of this. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few Temtem designs I like, such as the aptly named Semi-Aquatic mammal, Platypet or the firefly inspired Ganki, but there are also far too many generic designs that simply don’t evoke any feeling of excitement when you look at them. With the game being in early access, there is still time for them to change the designs before the game receives a full release in the future, but it’s hard to say how these changes will go down with the Temtem community as a whole.
As it stands now, Temtem is off to a great start, it’s got a lot of attention and hype around it, but that initial buzz only lasts for so long. If Crema Games wants Temtem to be successful they need to streamline a lot of the game’s exploration and include things such as quest/NPC markers to their overworld map, so that you can find your way around a little bit easier. It’s still early days for the game so I can’t begrudge the server issues and bugs that I’ve encountered during my playtime so far, and to their credit, Crema Games has been working overtime to roll out hotfixes that have subsequentially fixed a lot of the more major problems I’ve seen.
For the moment Temtem is a game I’d watch closely if you have the spare £27.99 (or $34.99) I’d recommend buying it now and waiting a few months as the dev team settle in and add in more content to the game.
Have you played Temtem? What are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @ReplayWire or @Wolfencreek what you think could be added into the game to improve it.