The Pokémon franchise has been more prolific than usual of late, with multiple releases over the past year and another big entry soon. However, those without the Switch or looking for a suitable monster-fighting alternative should focus on Temtem, which has emerged from years of early access development. Its worlds are fun to explore, while borrowing heavily from the formula of Nintendo’s sprawling franchise, and it’s satisfying to collect and learn all about the titular Tatums. Although the core adventure is a smidge repetitive, Temtem is challenging and engaging even for well-experienced instructors.
Your Temtem journey begins by selecting a companion monster and challenging various dojos (Gym’s version of Temtem) around the Airborne Archipelago. While exploring this chain of vibrant floating islands, you get to rival, challenge dojo, and butt head with the dastardly Clan Balsoto along the way. Pieces of a classic Pokémon experience are here, for better or worse, and while that prophecy bored me in the early hours, the story eventually comes in some cool places I didn’t expect, allowing Temteam to “against the world” as it feels. “Compared to a JRPG is a typical monster collector.
For me the biggest highlight of this genre is collecting as many of these cute and destructive creatures as possible. While the lack of variety and the abundance of forgettable designs on the first island disappointed me, each subsequent area introduced more enticing monster designs and elemental combinations. My favorites include the deceptively cute Adoreboros and the fiery electric scarab Scaravolt. Finding the location of a monster that I needed to fill my tempedia or that would complement my current competitive team was a blast.
Exploring new Temtems is exciting, but I’m even more high on the combat system. These fights are strategic and challenging, with every tamer fight leading me to consider my squad order right down to my team structure. Unlike the way most trainers compete in Pokémon battles, the default way to perform throwdowns in Temteam is 2v2. It’s a twist that I enjoy that deepens the strategy in almost every fight. I often had to solve combat-based puzzles, such as whether my active team is the dominant pair on the board or if they would be quickly wiped out by well-matched opposition, the latter being the case quite often.
Another wrinkle I love in combat is the stamina system. Each move uses a portion of Temtem’s stamina gauge, with light blows consuming far less than Heymakers. However, using more stamina than what’s available takes HP, creating a high-risk, high-reward scenario for launching a desperate all-out attack at the expense of your team’s health. It’s a clever solution to spam powerful attacks, and results in more deliberate fights, especially when going toe to toe with other ambitious tamers.
Online features flourish when I interact with others. Throughout the adventure, you see Tamers running around with their fellow ‘Tame in tow’. You can challenge them to a fight, trade, or chat to find a monster. Always available rolling text chat lets you talk freely with a world full of active players. The lack of a barrier to communicate or participate in fights and groups with others is refreshing to the genre and should be seen as a feature to be seriously attempted by companies like Nintendo.
There’s a lot to do with online tamers once the main scenario is complete. On top of the competitive activities at hand, such as joining a club and participating in dojo wars, I’ve engaged in temteam breeding, skimming auctions for monsters and items, and exploring players’ housing neighborhoods that are all in. Can be decorated with purchased goods. Islands. To top all of the above and more, there is a lot of endgame content for those who want to stick with the game for a long time.
Temteam may seem like a copycat on its surface, but its deviation from the Pokémon formula pays off quite a bit. With unique combat elements and an engaging MMO structure, Temtem evolves into an experience of its own and provides an expansive, challenging adventure that can be enjoyed even without a Nintendo console.