Temtem is attempting something that no one has ever done before, trying to be both a competitor to Pokemon and an MMO at the same time, and by God, I think it’s onto something. Temtem, for those of you that don’t know, is an indie monster battler built from the ground up with the functionality of an MMO. The game is currently available in Early Access.
It is an ambitious project, to say the least, but one that the developers at Crema seem to be making a reality. Clearly inspired by the behemoth that is Pokemon, Temtem takes enough steps in a different direction. Even at this early stage, they set it apart from Pokemon in a positive way.
Stamina in Temtem
The battle system is very familiar, still turn-based with your monsters choosing one of 4 moves to use on their turn, but rather than each move having PP to determine how many times you can use it, Temtem has stamina.
Along with all the familiar stats, (HP, Atk, Def, Sp.Atk, Sp.Def, and Speed), Temtem has a Stamina stat. Each move a Temtem uses pulls a certain amount of stamina from their meter sort of like mana in most RPGs with it also replenishing over time.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using moves that completely deplete your Stamina bar. However, the Temtem will become overexerted and forced to skip a turn to rest up and gain stamina back. Not only that, but depending on how much stamina is used, you’ll lose HP as well.
his allows battles to be a little more complex because you have to determine how you’re going to use your stamina and what moves you want to use your stamina on.
Crema has chosen to remove one of the most controversial aspects of Pokemon, the RNG factor. Rather than moves having a chance to miss, crit, or cause an additional effect; The game removes the luck factor a lot of people hate and makes actual strategy more of the central focus.
Temtem also has a completely different typing chart with some familiar types and completely new types filling in the gaps. None of the types feel oppressively powerful and all have their own weaknesses and strengths that balance really well. There is also a slew of unique status effects, all impacting battles in different ways and requiring different ways to play around them.
The removal of RNG means that Status Effects will exist for a set number of turns rather than an RNG-based amount of time. With this, battles are built with a more competitive-based focus as every status effect can be used as a resource to gain some precious time. Or, in some cases, you can use those status effects to strategically damage your opponent over time.
There are some other statuses that affect the Temtem’s overall performance, like making them consume additional stamina for their moves. Of course, you can also provide buffs which increase stats; decrease the amount of Stamina a move uses; make you untouchable; prevent Temtem from being switched out; among others. Overall, status effects are still important but don’t rely on luck.
2v2 Combat and Design
Temtem chooses to make the 2v2 combat format. It adds even more complexity to your choices during battle. As someone that has played Pokemon VGC -which is also a 2v2 format.- It felt familiar but it’s clear that the developers have way more plans in mind to take advantage of this format even this early in development. (Early Access itself was only Patch 0.5, so they have a while until the game is complete.)
The world the game’s mechanics are built on is charming. It gives a family-friendly vibe that Pokemon had with cutesy cartoon monsters. However, it still maintains its own unique art style that remains consistent throughout the game.
The Temtem themselves never look like they have been lifted directly from Pokemon and feel like they all belong in the same universe, so props to the art team for maintaining that style while also sporting some really different and unique designs for monsters.
The monsters are well animated. Some of the moves sport some very impressive and unique attack animations. I was really impressed with how an indie company managed to make a world that seemed to even surpass Pokemon in some areas, even at this stage in development. The Visual effects alone can sell me on the impact of the attacks. Have a look:
— Lush (@LushVFX) February 1, 2020
Story and Difficulty
The game’s story itself starts out as you would expect if you have ever played a single Pokemon game. You are a young Temtem tamer first starting out on their journey. Your mentor, Professor Konstantinos, gives you a choice from 3 unique Temtem to begin on your journey. Your best friend is Max, a gender-neutral little snot that will remind Pokemon fans of Blue or Silver, cocky and smug in their own abilities.
Once you choose a starter, Max promptly challenges you to a battle, and then…..one shots you with his digital type Temtem. This is where Temtem takes its own path and very firmly shows you that this game will not hold your hand.
The AI can be leagues above anything we have gotten before in Pokemon, for the most part going after any weakness they can; playing strategically; using the moves they have access to with competence. You will never be told what Temtem is coming out next after you KO one, you don’t have an option to switch, and you have to roll with the punches.
I found myself frequently challenged by trainers, and always having to have balms on hand as my team took frequent punishment, and sometimes having to go back to a center in order to heal. It never felt like I was being treated super unfairly, so I would say difficulty-wise the game is challenging but fair.
Learning About the World
The world of Temtem itself is a fairly interesting prospect, six floating islands, each having their own theme of two types of Temtem that they specialize in, the Airborne Archipelago. At the time of writing, we only currently have access to three of the six but I look forward to exploring the others once they open them up.
You start on the island of Deniz, the home to Wind and Water types, and begin your journey to defeat the eight dojo leaders and become the best like no one ever was. You are tasked with exploring the island, and quickly find yourself saving the Dojo leader, Sophia, from a group of thugs that call themselves Clan Belsoto.
This is the standard team of jerks you find yourself pitted against constantly, but I found them rather humorous in the regard that they are all jerks, even to each other, which makes plowing through them all the more satisfying.
After clearing them out, you head back to the Dojo, ready to challenge Sophia for your first official challenge, and discover the first twist on the familiar formula, dojos specialize in two types, not just one. This allows the Dojo to offer more of a challenge as the second type will often compensate for the weaknesses of the first and vice versa.
Overall thoughts on Story
I will refrain from spoiling any more of the story, but I want to simply note how interesting and sometimes funny the dialogue is. NPCs are constantly more than one-note characters, and many will have multiple dialogue options you can choose, making it more interesting to see what they will say.
There are quite a few references to the Pokemon games. However, the dialogue, for the most part, stays fairly standard. I didn’t feel like the game was really pushing past the standard adventure fare but the events further on in the game surprised me.
Temtem as an MMO
The MMO aspect of the game isn’t necessarily as prevalent as I expected but people are already trading, battling, and socializing both in the game and using the game’s Discord for Voice Chat and posting trade offers. There is a big sense of community that is trying to be fostered here and based on most people’s positive impressions I expect the game to do well as it continues on.
By the time I got to the end of the currently available game, I was at 35 hours played, which is pretty impressive since I’m only halfway through what will be in the complete title. I haven’t gotten into competitive battling or breeding yet, the arguable meat of the game, but I have deeply enjoyed what I have played so far.
The game is in Early Access on Steam right now for $35 but is planning to release on all modern consoles once the development of the base game reaches completion. The price of the game will rise to meet the completion of the title. However, I would strongly urge people to get in now if they are already planning to get the game on PC as the game is already a steal at $35 in my opinion.
Temtem shows great promise with a solid foundation that can be built upon moving forward as the game moves to a completed state. I can’t wait to spend countless hours thinking of strategies for this game. Any Pokemon fan will find something to enjoy here. The game has a lot of promise despite some of the early issues.
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