"Temtem is an MMO, a Massively Multiplayer Online adventure where you can collect creatures inspired by Pokémon"
The developers themselves are aware of it: Temtem is inspired by the world of Pokémon. However, does this make it a clone, or is it a completely different game? This is what we're going to look at in this Early Access review.
- Genre: MMO
- Release Date: January 21, 2020 on PC Early Access
- Platform: PC (PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One planned)
- Developer: Crema
- Publisher: Crema
- Price: $34.99
- Played on: PC (Early Access)
Clone or Original?
Let's get right to the heart of the matter. If you're reading this, then there's probably only one question on your mind: is Temtem just a copy of Pokémon?
Anyone who's played the game for 10 hours or so will be able to confirm that, no, Temtem isn't just a blatant Pokémon clone. The developers said it best themselves, that they were deeply inspired by a series they hold dear. It was a conscious decision on their part to take some of the series' gameplay mechanics and create a Pokemon-like with its own identity.
We can't deny that Temtem shares a lot of similarities with Pokemon, such as the concept of creature types, with their respective strengths and weaknesses, Abilities, shinies, and the idea of collecting monsters itself. However, that doesn't necessarily make a Pokemon-like a direct copy of the series.
Temtem is an MMORPG that collects all the best aspects from Pokemon or Yokai Watch and combines it with the best features of World of Warcraft or FFXIV Online. However, the MMO component of the game isn't fully implemented yet, as only 50% of features are currently available in this Early Access build.
Once the game is fully released and all features are added, you'll understand why Temtem is an MMO. In its completed form, Temtem will include 100 new creatures, four additional islands, and an Animal Crossing-like player housing system that can be decorated.
Temtem will also add a multitude of new features in due course, including an Auction House, a PvP group mechanic, tournaments, mounts, a guild system, and so much more.
In brief, Temtem isn't just a Pokémon clone, but is instead its own game which takes inspiration from various other IPs. Now, let's take a closer look at this colourful and idyllic world.
A high difficulty from the start
If Pokemon is trying to become more and more accessible, and consequently a bit simpler, then Temtem is the inverse, with a level of difficulty that would not be out of place in a good MMO. Walking into the Dojo unprepared is a one-way ticket to failure. You'll have to farm quite a bit to create a well-formed team with sufficiently powerful creatures.
Temtem really doesn't pull any punches when it comes to difficulty. Right from the off, the game pits you against your rival and his much more powerful team. Combat isn't easy in Temtem, and you'll need good strategy to get by.
Of course, you not only have to pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of each creature type, but also your creatures' Stamina bars. Each attack you use will cost Stamina points, and if your Temtem runs out of them, it will have to recharge or be strategically swapped out.
There are two main points to this combat system:
- No RNG: In combat, nothing is random (for example, an attack doesn't have a percentage chance to crit or freeze your enemy). Everything is coded in advance, which allows you to really think strategically and not stumble into decisions.
- 2v2 battles: This complicates combat, as you have to manage your two Temtem whilst simultaneously dealing with two enemy creatures.
One small downside is the inability to rematch trainers who have beaten you. This way, if you rival bests you in combat, you have to admit your defeat and continue on your way. Thankfully, this obviously doesn't apply to Dojo (Gym) battles, which you must repeat until you come out victorious.
Farming — it would've been nigh-on impossible to avoid mentioning this word, given the fact that this is a review of an MMO. Every well-regarded game in this genre has a degree of difficulty that forces players to grind to get stronger.
In Temtem, this comes in the form of KOing or capturing hundreds of monsters. For those concerned about the well-being of these creatures, don't worry — Temtem doesn't promote animal mistreatment! In fact, one of the only ways to earn in-game currency at the moment is by freeing the monsters that you've captured.
This action is called "Libertem" and is a nice way of giving the player an incentive to be considerate of Omninesia's wildlife. You can even release a Temtem whenever you want, provided that you're carrying that creature in your party.
Farming in Temtem is therefore very important if you want to earn money and be able to start breeding. It may be very costly, but breeding Temtem allows you to create perfect Temtem with great stats.
This is made even trickier as each Temtem has a fertility cap, making it impossible to breed the same Temtem more than eight or nine times.
Currently, in Early Access, the in-game economy is quite complex, but it is being improved patch-by-patch. There are other ways to earn money in this game, but this is by far the easiest. In short, the only way to get perfect Temtem is by earning them through hours of breeding.
Touching on the story, it should be said that the plot is rather complex for a game still in Early Access. Legendary Temtem will be added to the final game, but there's currently a 35-hour main story for players to sink their teeth into.
If you factor in the dozens of hours required to finish the various side-quests and add that to the hundreds of hours you might spend hunting lumas (the game's version of shinies, with a 1/6000 chance to appear), you'll see that there's plenty of content, even in this early form of the game.
Early Access allows developers to correct bugs and continually add new content to the game, though this model undoubtedly brings a few gripes to the forefront. From a gameplay persepctive, Temtem often leaves you lost on its giant floating islands. The story is quite linear and quests are highlighted on the screen, but not on the map, which makes going in the right direction an unnecessarily difficult task.
Also, if you make the mistake of skimming over NPC conversations, you'll find yourself quickly lost, without a clue where to go or what you to do next. Therefore it's a very good idea to take your time to explore all over the map and not to rush through the game.
Playing online however does pose one solution to this map problem: all you need to do is follow the hundreds of other players as they surge past you towards their objectives. Surely they'll bring you to where you need to go, right? It's a real pleasure to watch so many players running through the map, side-by-side.
In the same vein, it isn't currently possible to check your quest journal on the current patch. Quests are fixed to the right of your screen in a quest log, but if you accept more than four of them, they'll disappear into the void.
A Vibrant and Interesting World
When you launch Temtem for the first time, the game will prompt you to create your avatar. You can choose from a wide range of options to customise your character, including your haircut, your in-game voice, and your clothes and their colour. You can buy additional clothes and hairstyles from in-game shops, and it's very likely that new clothing will be added by later updates.
Returning to the differences between Temtem and Pokémon, there is one major separation between the two. Temtem offers an online, server-based gameplay experience that will be constantly updated with new content. You don't need to purchase DLC or an online subscription to play it.
From a graphical perspective, Temtem is characterised by a colourful art direction that is partially inspired by the alien expanses of No Man's Sky. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the game looks beautiful and feels fluid.
In the early days of Early Access, the sheer amount of bugs made it nearly impossible to play more than 10 minutes without some sort of connection issue. Yet barely three days later, the devs were already able to stabilise the game to the point that the servers could accommodate 35,000 players at the same time.
The game's art style is a real treat, as everything is coated in its pastel splendour. The Temtem themselves look right at home against the colourful backgrounds, which themselves vary heavily from zone to zone, with each island having its own unique climate.
In combat, backgrounds are a perfect immersive representation of your overworld location. Combat animations are also impressive, whether they're creature attacks or the capture animation, which completely digitalises the Temtem before storing them in your TemCard.
The soundtrack is also a success. Combat themes are actually quite catchy, in a good way, and each island has its own unique environment. Sound effects, such as attacks, Temtem summons, and footsteps also remind us that we're a living, breathing member of this colourful and adorable world.
Temtem offers a fascinating contrast between a cutesy, friendly environment and a brutal level of difficulty. But don't let these creatures fool you with their looks, as behind their adorable faces beats the heart of a fierce fighter. If you can look past Temtem's somewhat childish pastel exterior, you'll come across a MMO that is soon be flooded by players forming guilds and fighting to claim the top spot.
As for controls, a controller is far and away your best option right now, given that you can't currently change key bindings. You'll have to wait till later in the year until this is possible. However, playing with a controller feels great and makes the possibility of a successful console port even more likely.
Yet Temtem's best innovation on the genre is far and away its co-op mode, which allows you to play the entire story with a friend right away, even in Early Access. Battles won't necessarily be any easier in a tandem, plus you'll have to co-ordinate with your partner to execute your strategy.
Just like playing by yourself, you'll have to think carefully and use your stat-boosting items wisely to reduce damage taken from a certain type, or even increase the XP gained from combat.
While comparisons between the two may be unavoidable, Temtem promises to be every bit as good as Pokémon. With its very colourful world, its complex story, and only 50% of its features currently available in Early Access, Crema have put together a game with immense promise and potential to be a longterm success.
In its current Early Access form, the game already offers a good 30 hours of gameplay, 80 creatures to catch, three islands to explore, as well as a plethora of secondary quests. Several important features such as Breeding and Luma Hunting will allow you to sink even more hours into the game long after you've finished the main story.
And if you didn't want to brave the world of Temtem by your lonesome, there's always the option of following other players to your objective, or simply recruiting a friend and exploring the islands together as a duo.
In short, Temtem leaves a strong impression on players, even while it's still in Early Access. There's no doubt in my mind that this MMO has a promising future in store for its players.
In Temtem, the Pokémon-like MMO, you can choose your starter from three creatures. Which of Crystle, Smazee and Houchic is the best?