Games where you catch and raise monsters are almost as old as games themselves. It's like having a pet, but your cat can't exactly throw a fireball. Franchises like Monster Rancher fizzled out, while Digimon recently picked up traction again. Ever since its 90s debut, Pokemon has always been the foremost franchise in the genre, and that's where we've been for a while. In 2020, Temtem is a new challenger hoping to make a splash in the monster collection field. While there is a lot in Temtem that any Pokemon fan will be able to recognize, it's the differences that really make the game appealing.
Create your Temtem trainer
You start your adventure in Temtem after becoming the professor's apprentice, beginning your study of the creatures known as Temtem. After saying goodbye to your mother and picking up your starter Temtem, you're tasked with departing from your home town of Zadar to assist the professor in his research. While he takes an airship heading directly from town to town you have to rough it on the different routes. Along your journey, you can meet quest giving townspeople, learn from the different Dojo's in each town, and explore the different islands expanding your collection of Temtem and growing stronger.
While this kind of story might be familiar to veterans of the genre where this game really shines is in that world interaction. The kinds of quests that you pick up along the way reward characters with extra items, they're optional but you'll learn about people in the towns. While you're still experiencing your Temtem journey these interactions further the appeal of the world. Through your adventure you'll also hear of the mysterious Clan Belsoto, this group seems up to something but as yet haven't revealed any plans.
The mysterious Clan Belsoto is investigating these ruins in Temtem
Each area you visit is great to look at. Starting areas show off forests, riverside beaches, and rocky ruins. This variety keeps the game fresh and visually appealing. The designs of the Temtem and the different characters are clean and simple, but it works for the theme. If there's any complaint to be made, I will admit that some of the Temtem's typing is difficult to parse out just by looking at them. Some could say this is good because it leaves you guessing each time you meet a new Temtem, but as more and more Temtem got introduced it becomes confusing keeping track of typings and advantages.
It's not just scenic views and towns that you'll experience along your journey. You'll be walking through treacherous routes filled with tall grass and other Temtem trainers ready to battle you. Every battle in Temtem takes place as a '2v?' battle. You'll always be sending out the first two Temtem in your roster but depending on the opponent you might be facing one or two Temtem. Each of these battles is normally pretty well balanced, if there's only one opponent then it's likely going to be stronger than the rest of the ones in the area. Trainer battles apply the same logic. This '2v?' battling is a conscious move to allow for more synergies between your Temtem, covering each other's weaknesses or doubling down to really bring the hurt to an opponent.
Take part in Temtem battles against wild creatures or fellow trainers
Battles play out as normal turn-based affairs, but they have a few added mechanics that can add further strategy to the way that you play. Instead of each attack having a limited number of uses, they require your Temtem to expend stamina. Each turn, your Temtem regains some stamina but it's a lot faster to use it up than it is to charge. There are items that you can use to restore stamina faster but it promotes the swapping out of your Temtem frequently so that you don't have to waste time and leave your Temtem vulnerable.
Attacks also all come with their own speed stat, so even a slow Temtem has a chance of attacking faster by using speedy attacks. Powerful attacks can also require a few turns to charge, you're still free to use any other attack while you wait to be able to use the powerful ones, but this can also be a consideration when thinking of what Temtem to swap in. The last big mechanic is that status effects such as Poison and Burn all have a set turn limit and aren't up to chance. All of these changes work to simultaneously add more depth and strategy to not only each Temtem individually but also your team structure. With the static timer on status effects though it also seeks to limit the amount that RNG could shake up a strategy. This makes being able to poison someone not only something that's more predictable for you to deal with but to implement consistently into a strategy.
Be sure to take care of your Temtem in battles
Some elements of Temtem are also more in-line with earlier generations of Pokemon games. Only the Temtem who participate in battles earn experience, and you've got to know what types will have the advantage before sending them out. If you want to be the very best like no-one ever was then you've got to learn all you can.
One of the big draws to check out Temtem lies in the multiplayer elements, simulating the feel of an MMO. Even just exploring the overworld you have other players running around, a chatbox for those that are in your area, and the ability to take a look at the teams of anyone in your area. You can battle and trade with anyone as you see them on the nearby list and can choose players to become your friends. If you're not in the mood to travel alone you can also join up with these players to play through the campaign in co-op. While playing in co-op players will get drawn in battles together and each player will take control of one of the Temtem that you have out at any time. You'll have to have your sights set on the same goal but it breathes life into a formula that has remained relatively unchanged for a long time.
The world of Temtem
This is a strong start for Temtem. It builds upon a known gameplay basis while striving to create a more dependable, strategy-based, meta where your plans will be more consistent. The world is enjoyable to travel through and while only half of the first island was explored there was a fun variety of locations and creatures to see. What could make or break the game as it continues could be the pacing of the story and where it wants to take chances, and in whether a competitive scene begins to grow? Temtem seems like it has some staying power and I'm looking forward to seeing the genre develop.
TechRaptor previewed Temtem on PC using a code provided by the publisher.