Everyone at this point knows that I am all about RPGs. On the other hand, I have been having a hard time getting into the "Monster collection" genre, where you collect monsters and have them fight your battles. So, I was a bit ambivalent when I saw Temtem first show up.

Temtem couldn't have come out at a better time, frankly. When the first Early Access version of the game was released, everyone's faith in the Pokemon series was at an all-time low. Not only because of the National Dex controversy that happened during the release of Sword/Shield but also because the series failed to move forward in any meaningful way until that point.

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So, in comes Temtem, a game that essentially brought the best elements from the series while also providing its own layer of innovation with a new synergy system that would enhance the moves of your captured mons depending on their elemental affinity. Not only that but the game would be heavily focused on things that the Pokemon series neglected, such as training values and ranked matches.

However, there was a catch. The game wasn't going to be your standard RPG, it was going to be a MORPG. A game where you will have to do several things like weekly quests, daily activities, and even play through the story cooperatively. You could create a clan, have your members face off against other clans, go on raids, and do things that the Pokemon series wouldn't even think of doing years later.

The thing is, that vision was far from what the game was when it was first released as an Early Access title. And while the developers at Crema were receptive to the feedback they received, they weren't able to update the game at a quick enough pace to keep the audience they were appealing to hooked. And thus began a series of controversies that the developers would get into that unfortunately haunted them even during the game's full release.

I'm prefacing this review of the game with all of this just so you know how much baggage Temtem had to deal with. The game certainly had a lot on its plate with both its fanbase and the aforementioned controversies. I honestly believe Crema pulled through exceptionally well, managing to overcome most of the hurdles that have come their way.

But now, I have to do a review of the final product. The game has scored 1 Million players since its release across all platforms. So, I believe that the only way I could do this game justice was by playing it and seeing what it had to offer to the fullest extent. A goal that would eventually prove nigh impossible, but we'll get there when we get there.

From the outset, Temtem looks like it'll be your standard Pokemon fare. You take the role of a kid in the region of Deniz as they are given their own Temtem to explore the world and become a highly respected tamer. You have a rival known as Max who slowly becomes more antagonistic as the game goes by, only to end with a redemption arc by the endgame; you face off against several Dojo masters; you get to take down a criminal organization known as Clan Belsoto. You know... The usual.

However, once you break down the core experience in Temtem the story becomes more intricate. Suddenly there are many layers that are given to your journey that make it more memorable and also more meaningful. One of the Dojo masters you face off with becomes instrumental in the defeat of Clan Belsoto, who proves to be way more ruthless and aggressive than any criminal organization you've seen in Pokemon.

I'm not kidding, either. While most of the things they do are either implied or happen off-screen, you find that Clan Belsoto goes on an all-out war against several citizens of the Great Archipelago. You find out that they perform clandestine Temtem trafficking, kidnap several civilians, and they even execute their detractors while also hiding in plain sight and hunting down everyone that may prove a detrimental asset to them.

As you progress through the story in Temtem, your goal becomes less of becoming a proficient Temtem tamer and more of trying to stop Clan Belsoto from downright destroying the world as you know it and establishing an evil monarchy. Every step of the way, every battle you take on has more meaning, and the story's impact begins to settle in as soon as you travel to the third island in the game!

I honestly was surprised at how many curve balls the plot threw at me. Many of which I will not spoil for very obvious reasons. The point I'm trying to make here overall is that Temtem will grip you on its story beats alone. Especially with how much depth the characters have and how you end up believing in their struggles or such.

Some of the members of Clan Belsoto even have their own stories to tell, and while they are ultimately the bad guys, they also have their reasons behind joining the clan. Of course, nobody expects what happens at the end regardless, especially when it comes down to taking down the evil big bad. But still, it really feels nice to see that Crema worked hard on making a story that means something to the player while they are going on a journey across the world.

Also, time to be blunt here; most of the people in the Archipelago are fucking dicks. They either dismiss you or have better things to do than talk with a kid with possible delusions of grandeur (because honestly, even in real life, you would have a hard time convincing that a kid is going to save the world or be a Congressional Agent). While some of the people in the Archipelago are quirky and have funny dialogue or references to other games, most of them are about their own business. In some cases, they will try to take advantage of you.

But hey, that's just the way it is in a more mature interpretation of Pokemon, right? It's honestly a breath of fresh air because, in Pokemon games, the player becomes the world instead of being part of the world. Ultimately, the quest you set off onto has an impact on the world that may not be noticed by most people. And that's just how real life works too, which is in my opinion one of the best aspects of Temtem because while it still has fantasy elements, it also has its layers of realism.

This extends to the sidequests as well because the player can often go out of their way to improve several Archipelago citizens' lives and see some of them grow as they go through the story beats. One of my favorite sidequests involves three young children who aspire to become better individuals. You end up helping them realize their dreams, and you see them make the most out of the chance you gave them while you play through the story.

I have to say, though, that while most of the sidequests are great, some of them also feel pretty phoned in and amount to nothing but a fetch quest. I'm looking at you, StickTem collection. And while they have some incredible character interactions, the rewards you get for completing them tend not to be worth it at all. Especially because they mainly involve items or technique courses, not the in-game currency.

Ah yes, who could forget one of the earliest controversies in Temtem that pretty much became addressed in the dumbest way? Temtem uses Pansuns as its main currency. With them, you can buy healing items that will aid you in your quest. But you can also use them to buy cosmetic items and flare yourself up with neat, stylish clothes.

The problem is that most of the cosmetics you can buy in shops are expensive. I'm talking tens of thousands of Pansuns just to freaking use a different hairstyle other than your default. And no, you don't get enough Pansuns even in the full release. Most of the Pansuns you do get often have to be used to buy healing items because the game has this lovely idea of throwing several encounters at you while you painfully make your way from one area of the map to the next.

How did Crema address this? By essentially putting Pansuns as rewards for doing two things. Capturing and releasing Temtems through the FreeTem! program or activities that are essentially locked behind the endgame. Both of these consume a lot of your time while you do menial tasks and, more often than not, make you wonder what even is the point of gathering Pansuns.

I was wearing the default cosmetic set for the longest time because I, quite frankly, couldn't be bothered. The things you can eventually buy are neat but certainly not worth the massive time investment. If you think this is going to evolve into a complaint about the Novas system, you can't even purchase more Pansuns with them, so... No, it's not.

I also realized writing this review that this game really hates new players. While I had some progress from the early betas, I started a new playthrough of the game from scratch to see what I could get away with alongside a friend of mine. Long story short, I saw that the game downright treats you like trash while you're a new player, and it doesn't get better until endgame.

Things such as the game's Quick Travel or several traversal options tend to be locked behind the endgame. Even more annoyingly, the Quick Travel costs freaking Pansuns! Sure, it's just 500 Pansuns, but that Pansun tax rakes up and takes your funds away a lot quicker than you'd expect. Especially with how boring the walk of shame from one place to another is.

Many of the game's activities require you to have a sum of Pansuns to access. Want to play on the raids? You have to pay Pansuns. Want to own a house? You have to pay Pansuns. Want to create a club (the game's version of guilds)? Pay a huge Pansun fee and pay another fee just to change its setting from Public to Private! The game expects you to pay fees for almost everything, and it's extremely annoying because outside of trainer battles and the game's Auction House, there's no reliable way of getting them as a new player.

And by the way, that new Battle Pass thing? Yeah, you unlock things at a snail's pace as a new player. While you're given BP XP as you battle other tamers (something the devs had to add after much backlash, by the way!), it pales in comparison to how much XP you earn after doing weeklies in the post-game.

This game put tons of its features behind its post-game, and it is annoying because while I understand that the incentive needs to be there for the returning players, it also doesn't have to come at the expense of the new players or have them feel pressured to complete the main campaign because they might lose onto the rewards available in it.

Temtem left me baffled at how much it expects people to drop into the game while also acting like it's a feasible thing to do for anyone who isn't a hardcore game player. And the rewards you get majorly aren't worth the hassle, in my opinion (heck, some of the items are untradable, so you can't even get Pansuns for them either).

I honestly feel like all of this overshadows what I think is the biggest highlight of Temtem, its battle mechanics. Battles are taken in a 2v2 format, and you often have to take several things into consideration while you throw your Tems into battle. It's not just about elemental type matchups, either, as while you have to consider those, some of the major components (such as synergy) depend on the Temtem type you use.

But what's synergy? Well, some moves are boosted by Temtem depending on the type they are paired with in battle. For example, Energy Manipulation (a Mental type attack) gets boosted when a Nature type ally is in the field, increasing its effects and damage. Other attacks have increased benefits or add neat things such as debuffs like Burned or Doom.

Temtem also have elemental weaknesses, of course. You have to consider that before bringing a pair of them to the field. A flying type Temtem might be useful to boost a move like Tsunami, guaranteeing high damage. But if the enemy has some sort of Electric-type move, both of your Tems will be pretty much taken down.

There are a lot of Temtem that have several type combinations. Sometimes there is even a specific combination that counters itself, thus nullifying some of the attacks that would be super effective against it. Some of these can be quite tricky to fight against, such as Ganki's Flying/Electric combination, which essentially allows it to not die to anything that isn't Crystal.

On top of this, the game also has a knack for stats, as you'll be able to see the Tem's training values at all times. Instead of IVs and EVs, you're focusing on SVs and TVs. While SVs depend on the Temtem you find and majorly can be inherited through breeding, you're able to control the Tem's TVs through battles across the Archipelago. Thus, if you put your heart into it, you'll be able to make the perfect team with powerful moves that synergize with each other.

If I were to review this game purely on how beautiful the SV/TV system is and how amazing the battle mechanics work, a layer of strategy that we haven't seen before or since in Pokemon-like games. I would give this game a perfect 10/10. No questions asked. Unfortunately, crafting the perfect Tem requires a lot of grinding, patience, and, more importantly, a lot of people willing to bear the same level of pressure and annoyance.

That is the perfect way to lap back to my main annoyance with this game. Temtem is still a MORPG. In other words, it's a social experience that majorly depends on how many friends you have that care about this game as much as you do. If you don't or alternatively, have friends that really don't give a damn or have other games to play, such as Destiny 2 or Dead by Daylight, then you won't be able to experience the majority of this game's features.

I would love to play some of the raids, try my hand at competitive battles, and do Dojo Wars between Clubs. But most of the people I know who play the game are nowhere near the endgame. I only finished the main campaign because I had to for the review and that honestly just feels so dumb. There's plenty to do in the world of Temtem, you just have to spend a long time barely surviving through the main campaign to be able to do it.

To me, that is the main reason I can't, in good faith, recommend Temtem. I want to love this game. I really do; it does so many things that the Pokemon series would never even think to do. The soundtrack is fantastic; the graphics are neat, the Temtem designs are unique and varied, and the battle mechanics are amazing. But most of the fun stuff is locked behind having other players on the same level as you or massively wasting your time.

I'm not even annoyed by the Battle Pass because you at least get refunded the Novas you spend on it, and you can gather enough of them through challenges (which are also locked behind endgame), but come on, Crema, at least give new players the ability to Quick Travel for free, dammit! Even Final Fantasy XIV does that.

Is the journey better than the destination? Yes. Temtem has a gripping narrative with various characters that will charm you and win over your feelings at times. In that case, it feels like a story made for the people who grew up with the franchise and expected a story that grew up with them as well. If you like the idea of the story and the mechanics, you'll certainly find your new home in this game. So, make sure to look forward and Temtem Up.

Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).

Products mentioned in this post

Destiny 2
USD 17
Temtem
USD 45
7
Wccftech Rating
Temtem
Temtem

Temtem is a fantastic game when you look at its story and gameplay mechanics alone. However, when you see the variety of activities it has to offer and the way its economy is structured, it will make you second-guess your stay after the main story campaign is done and over with.

Pros
  • Great story
  • Incredibly good soundtrack
  • Wide variety of activities for a MORPG
  • Intricate battle system that focuses on stats and type combinations
Cons
  • Most of the activities cost in-game currency and cosmetics are unreasonably expensive
  • The game's Battle Pass pressures players to reach endgame state instead of allowing them to take the game at their own pace
  • Incredibly boring tasks for weeklies that get old really fast.

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