Temtem Isn't Really a "Pokemon MMO", But it Gives Us Hope
With the mixed reception to Pokemon Sword and Shield still hanging in the air, Temtem burst onto the stage in late 2019 with a trailer that promised something... different. What it delivers in its Early Access release is a motley offering, but it's an extremely commendable beta with a lot of promise.
The prospect of a "Pokemon MMO" is certainly something fans have been clamoring for for decades now, and plucky indie developer Crema has built their Kickstarter project into something with real wide-reaching appeal.
It's clear to see why, too; Temtem takes the creature collection genre that you know and love and improves various aspects of it. Almost all battles are 2-on-2, which adds strategic depth from the get-go, while the battle system features various tweaks that make it more interesting than Pokemon's tired formula.
Make no mistake, though, Temtem is a challenging title. There are rival tamers to battle everywhere, and they are anything but pushovers. Routes and caves are long and winding, as well, which is a breath of fresh air to anyone that's grown disenchanted with Pokemon's recent push towards simplified gameplay.
It's easy to read a description of the gameplay and dismiss Temtem as a knock-off or clone, but there's clearly a lot of love built into the world of Temtem. Whether it's the lush environments and colorful creatures, or the level design that so clearly hearkens back to the glory days of Pokemon, the game doesn't shy away from comparisons.
Like a spiritual successor built with real respect for the source material, Temtem knows its roots are heavily inspired by Nintendo's creation, but it's taking the formula somewhere Pokemon has refused to go thus far.
Unfortunately, this new direction definitely has its fair share of downsides. Server stress, maintenance, crashes, and more have plagued the opening weeks of Temtem's Early Access release.
A large portion of Pokemon players enjoy battling and training on their way to work or school, but the online-only design of Temtem denies such a possibility —without the use of a WiFi hotspot, of course.
This is really my biggest complaint with Temtem. There have been numerous times I've wanted to log in while I have 30 minutes free, only to find the servers are under maintenance.
The trade-off is meant to be this bustling world of tamers that you can meet and interact with, trade and battle with, show off your house to, and so on,
and while seeing other tamers running around the long grass with you feels exciting the first few times you see it, the novelty soon wears off.
Step into any house in one of the game's towns and you'll usually see 10 or more players huddled around the NPCs living there, cluttering up the screen and making it near-impossible to see who's who.
Temtem is built to be an online game and the developers are aiming for that "Pokemon MMO" fantasy, but this really does feel like Temtem's biggest weakness right now.
And sure, the servers are steadily getting more stable and the max player count is increasing, but you'll never be able to catch Temtem on the bus or level them up if you don't have a wireless connection.
Still, the upside of an adventure that can be played entirely in co-op goes a long way towards making up for this, and teething problems are only natural when taking a beloved genre and turning it on its head.
I truly hope that the future will be bright for Temtem, with future content such as customizable housing that should help improve the overall offering and justify the online-only architecture.
For now, though, the asking price of $35 feels a little steep for what's included. Even though the gameplay is extremely fun, only around half of the game's promised content is currently available in the Early Access version.
Most notably, only 76 Temtem can be found and caught at present, which somewhat detracts from the wonder of exploring remote islands and corners of the world when the patches of grass don't house exotic new Temtem for you to find.
This is expected to rocket to 150+ by the time of the full release, though, with incremental content releases planned over the coming months. Once the game has reached a full release, we'll have a complete, scored review, but in the meantime, you can expect lots more Temtem coverage from GameSkinny.