Temtem Review | In With the Old, In With the New

A modern tribute to a timeless classic.
January 31, 2020 1:54 PM by Morgan Shaver

Temtem is like Pokemon, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You see, I’ve been a lifelong Pokemon fan. The first Pokemon game I ever played was Silver. It was a birthday present given to me when I turned 8 along with a purple Game Boy. I played obsessively before school, after school, whenever I had the opportunity.

I beat the game twice and then I got Pokemon Crystal and I beat that game twice. I played Pokemon on N64 and on every other console you can imagine. I am a die-hard, through and through, Pokemon fan… and yet, I almost like Temtem more. Almost. It feels weird to say.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate Pokemon. I think part of it is because I’ve been craving a new experience that’s not Pokemon. I also like being able to see 5 people “moshing” around in a patch of grass in order to train up their Temtem. That said, the main reason is because I see the vast potential that Temtem has as a standalone game.

Looking at Temtem, it's easy to make comparisons to Pokemon. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find the two games are very different.
Looking at Temtem, it's easy to make comparisons to Pokemon. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find the two games are very different.
© Crema

It’s easy to make comparisons to Pokemon, and it’s easy to write Temtem off as a polished up Pokemon fan mod. If you focus on these similarities too much, you end up missing the areas where Temtem shines, and no, it’s not the creature design. It’s all of the people playing alongside one another. Well, when the servers work.

I’m sorry Crema, I love you but I’m still licking my wounds from being stuck in a queue with 12,000 other people on launch day. It’s impressive to think that an indie game had so much interest surrounding it though – with so many people trying to jump in and play that it crashed the servers. A situation the team at Crema handled remarkably well by the way.

The expanded MMO elements of Temtem (including all of those people rushing to get in) helps the game feel more appealing as you’re never alone.

Do you remember how much fun it was to play Pokemon GO when it first came out? Pokemon GO was groundbreaking in that it helped foster a powerful sense of community. Everyone went outside to look for Pokemon together. Some people even made new friends because of Pokemon GO. 

It's fun seeing other players in the world. Sometimes you'll see one with a Temtem you don't have and can open their profile to see who's on their team.
It's fun seeing other players in the world of Temtem.
© Crema

Temtem feels a lot like that for me right now, but virtually. Which is nice as I’m not forced to leave the house in order to hunt down my favorite little buddy Cyndaquil in single digit Maine weather. Yes, the rumors are true, it’s cold in Maine. The sky is blue, and grass is green.

I also like the fact that Temtem lets me play with friends who live thousands of miles away. Seeing them running along beside me is really heartwarming. This is basic MMO stuff, though. You already know that an MMO means you can play with other people, strangers and friends alike.

Why do standard MMO qualities make Temtem so good? One reason is because it works well with Temtem’s battle system. The battle system in Temtem reminds me of playing Magic: The Gathering in a way as you’ll want to carefully strategize which Temtem you send out first.

You send two of your Temtem out at a time. Beforehand, you'll want to plan out which Types you need and whether your two Temtem work well together based on their Traits.
You send two of your Temtem out at a time. Beforehand, you'll want to plan out which Types you need and whether your two Temtem work well together based on their Traits.
© Crema

The two Temtem you send out can also synergize with one another based on their Traits. If you want to improve your odds of beating your friends (or complete strangers), you should probably make use of the Breeding Center as it lets you literally create new, better Temtem with higher Single Values (SVs).

You can create a whole army of overpowered, adorable Platypets if you want. It’ll take you a while, but you can do it.

Battles also have an interesting mechanic where you pick up TVs from battles in addition to XP. Training Values (TVs), not televisions. TVs are essentially special values in stats like HP or DEF. You can improve your Temtem’s Training Values by beating untamed Temtem, or by feeding your Temtem special fruits.

For an indie game currently in Early Access, it’s impressive how much thought is already being put into making the battle system as strategic as humanly possible. With so many people playing Temtem, you’ll never meet the same two people with the same battle strategy.

Some may focus on certain Types, others will spend all their time creating perfect Temtem at the Breeding Center. The choice is yours.

Temtem lets you breed your Temtem not to create baby Temtem, but to create Temtem with better stats.
Temtem lets you breed your Temtem and create Temtem with better stats.
© Crema

Another thing I like about Temtem is the weird way you’re able to farm for money (known as Pacsuns) in the game. When you’re fishing in real life, you have the option to catch and release what you’ve caught. In Temtem, you can do the same thing by catching and releasing Temtem rather than using them as your personal battle slaves.

As a reward, you’ll earn Pacsuns from the FreeTem! Organisation. It struck me as odd the first time I encountered it as my character is still using Temtem even as I’m catching and releasing others, but whatever. I won’t tell FreeTem if you don’t tell FreeTem. The catch and release rewards aren’t the only oddity to be found in Temtem.

The game is currently in Early Access, so you’re bound to run into a few bugs here and there along with buildings with “WIP” on them. To their credit, Crema has been extremely transparent in disclosing Temtem’s Early Access status, and their Twitter account is to die for. Seriously, if you’re not following @PlayTemtem on Twitter, you absolutely should be.

If you're not following @PlayTemtem on Twitter, you're missing out on some real gems.
If you're not following @PlayTemtem on Twitter, you're missing out on some real gems.
© Crema

I’ve heard valid complaints that Temtem feels barebones right now, and I can understand that. If you’d prefer to wait until Temtem is complete, you should. You'll enjoy it more in the long run if you play it when you're most comfortable. If that's at the time of completion, so be it. Even at that point, it's important to keep in mind that Temtem isn’t trying to be as big and expansive as Pokemon.

Temtem is an indie game made by a small group of people, whereas Pokemon is one of Nintendo’s biggest properties, and it has a lot of money behind it. Speaking of which, Temtem’s price of $34.99 may seem steep for an Early Access game but it’s fair in the sense that by giving Crema that money, you know they’ll use it to further the game’s development. Some developers can be scammy on Steam, no doubt about that. But I don’t think that’s the case with Temtem.

I don’t think it’ll be trapped in Early Access for years and years. I can see all of the work and time being put into the game as I wander through different areas like Brical de Mar and Tucma. I can feel the desire to be different with cool Temtem designs like Oree or Anahir. No, not all of them are as good as the Pokemon designs right now, but with a game like this you can’t directly copy Pokemon either.

You can’t create another Bulbasaur or Pikachu, you have to be as different as you possibly can. Just look at how quickly Pokemon fan mods like Pokemon Uranium were stamped out. In some ways, this desire to be different benefits Temtem, and in other ways, it's probably a lot for the developers to work through. It’s a mixed bag, but at the end of the day, I see the potential in Temtem and I’m excited.

Add me as a friend in Temtem and let's train together... or battle!
Add me as a friend in Temtem and let's train together... or battle!
© Crema

In my mind, it’s so close to being better than Pokemon and once it’s complete, I could honestly see it surpassing Pokemon. It feels new and fresh in the places it should, and familiar where it’s needed most.

As a whole, Temtem is an incredible game that’s full of charm, strategy, connection, and exploration. Whether you’re a Pokemon lover, an MMO fan, or a gamer looking for a new adventure, I highly recommend giving Temtem a try.

If you do, add me as a friend and let’s train together, ok? <3