Temtem is here, after a lengthy early access period following its successful Kickstarter, and players can finally enjoy the latest monster catching experience on Xbox. Published by Humble Bundle and developed by Spanish based studio Crema, Temtem wants the crown that sits firmly on the head of Pikachu and the rest of his Pokémon friends.
I had good intentions not to compare Temtem to the most famous monster catcher and fighter in the world. This proved impossible and even the developers themselves are not shy in admitting where their inspiration had come from. Pokémon is a global phenomenon and has been since the late ‘90s; from the humble Gameboy to the current Switch, Pokémon is now a household name.
So with that said, how can Temtem compare? Is it a downright rip off? Or, does Temtem break new ground and challenge Pokémon in its own stomping grounds?.
Temtem – like Pokémon – starts off by allowing the player to customise their character. In fact, the Temtem customisation options blows Pokémon’s latest offering out the water. The sheer variety of looks and clothing options at the start shadows the bigger games options and then some. A very nice touch is the offering of multiple pronouns for the player character and not just the usual boy or girl; something which is very thoughtful from the developers to include, creating an ‘all are welcome’ feel from the get go.
Once you choose your character’s looks and name, it’s time to set foot into the world of Temtem. And here is where the copy and paste feels begin. Your character has woken up on the day he receives his first Temtem from the local professor – sound familiar?
Heading to the local lab to pick one of three starting monsters, and again you’ll discover very familiar ground. You meet the professor and your rival and pick one of three monsters. Right off the bat your rival challenges you to a battle and losing this battle nets you another monster. I guess the professor felt sorry for you or something.
After this initial tutorial-styled mission that is straight from the Pokémon playbook, slight differences start to creep in. Sure you have the main quest to tackle and Temtem to catch, but speaking with some NPCs will net you side quests with such tasks as finding lost items or ‘go do this thing’. They are basic RPG quests to be sure, but for the game to follow Pokémon so very closely then deviate, is quite the curve ball.
Catching the monsters in Temtem feels exactly like Pokémon, except instead of throwing balls when the monster is weak, you throw cards. If the monster is weakened enough and you throw a card you will successfully catch the monster and be able to add them to your team.
Unfortunately unlike the new Pokémon games where players can now see monsters roaming around in the wild, Temtem takes a step back in time and uses random encounters in grassy areas and the like to hunt down each creature. It’s a frustrating task when you are trying to catch one of each type, as this is your main goal in Temtem alongside training and raising the monsters in your party.
Whilst it has been difficult to avoid comparisons between Pokémon and Temtem, there are points where the games feel nothing alike. Sure you get a starting creature, meet the professor, gain a rival and travel the land, but Temtem is let down by something not yet seen in the Pokémon games.
A Season Pass. Yes, Temtem has a Season Pass system and it does not sit well with the rest of the game. Sure, players are well versed in season/battle passes at this point but to see one in a game aimed towards younger children feels a tad predatory. That said, the pass appears to be mostly focused on cosmetics for the in-game character rather than being a pay to win by unlocking powerful monsters. It’s still not a good look for an otherwise wholesome feeling game.
So onto the monsters themselves and I have to say the Temtem character designs are all pretty darn great. Pokémon has occasionally put cruise control on when adding new monsters in the past; a garbage bag with eyes, an ice cream cone and even a set of keys have all been part of the premier monster catchers’ line up. Temtem designs all seem to be really charming and well created, and it’s a refreshing thing to see for a game that mirrors an existing franchise so closely.
Outside of the battling, exploring, levelling and catching, Temtem also has one major feature that is only now slowly creeping into the more recent Pokémon games. Online with others. Yes, in Pokémon you have been able to challenge players for a few years now over the World Wide Web, however Temtem ups the stakes significantly with its online connectivity.
You see, Temtem is more like a MMORPG than a single player experience. Even heading from the opening town the world is full of other players running about with their lead Temtem following after them. This is a really cool thing to see and makes the world feel much more inhabited than Pokémon. However this also comes with its bad side as well. A lot of players in one area at the same time can make it difficult for you to work out your bearings and with so much happening the screen can become a jumbled mess. Still, it’s really nice to see other Temtem trainers running around doing their own thing.
Having the ability to trade Temtem at any point with an online player running around in the world or being able to challenge them to a battle is pretty special. It is something that is done very well in Temtem. Talking of battling, Temtem has Gym Leaders – ahem, checks notes – Dojo Masters to take down and even the first one will be a tough challenge for those that have avoided battling and levelling up their Temtem beforehand.
Battling in the game works pretty much as you’d expect for a standard turn based mover, with a ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ ethic at its core. That said, no one battle should be taken lightly as a false move will give an enemy the advantage, taking down your team in seconds.
Temtem has copied Pokemon’s homework and got away with it. The game does have potential right out the gate, from decent challenges in the battles to lovingly designed creatures and a wonderfully charming art style. It all means that Temtem could indeed be the first contender to make a dent in the king of the monster catching genres armour.
Temtem is not perfect, but it is as close to Pokemon as you’ll get on the Xbox. With 164 creatures to capture and so many more features to uncover, Temtem is a fun time and a good challenge all in.
Temtem is on the Xbox Store
It certainly isnt free on Humble. It is its regular laughable price of $65