I was young enough to grow up during the height of the Pokémon craze, but aside from the first few games, the series never really grabbed me. Don’t get me wrong, the idea appeals to me a ton. Finding and collecting tons of monsters, training them up, doing battle with other monsters and defeating trainers. That’s all great. But I’ve always had two hangups with the series. One, I’m not a handheld gaming guy. And two, the games are just way too easy.
Nintendo solved issue one in 2019 by releasing the first main series Pokémon title on a console with Pokémon Sword & Shield, but the game is still ridiculously easy. To make matters worse, the Pokémon series stands out like a sore thumb as one of the most stagnant in gaming and the latest game didn’t really do a whole lot to change that.
Enter TemTem by Spanish indie developer Crema. I came across this game’s Kickstarter when the campaign launched in 2018 and I backed it immediately for $30. For me, the sales pitch was simple. Crema intended to deliver a fully fleshed out Pokémon inspired experience on PC (my preferred platform), it would be an “MMO” that can be played entirely in co-op, and there was an increased emphasis on gameplay depth. It sounded like the Pokémon game I’ve always wanted, so I decided to help get it funded. I don’t back many crowdfunded projects, I’ve only backed around three or so in total, but this one really spoke to me.
TemTem easily met and exceeded its Kickstarter goal of $70,000. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to play in the game’s alpha. Admittedly, I haven’t spent too much time in the alpha, as I wanted to save the full experience for release, but I dig what I’ve played so far. And with Early Access set to launch next week on January 21, I’m excited to fully dive in.
At a surface level, TemTem looks to be unashamedly a Pokémon clone. For some, this is a huge issue, but it’s not a problem at all for me. This isn’t exactly a genre with a ton of options, so appealing directly to Pokémon fans with a ton of familiar elements makes a lot of sense. Could Crema have been a little less on the nose? Sure. I’m not going to spend this article talking about all the way’s the game is similar to Pokémon. If you’ve played any of the games in the series, suffice it to say you’ll be right at home with TemTem. All the key trappings of the games are there.
What TemTem does to set itself apart is primarily in its gameplay. The game’s battles are all 2v2 and this also helps to facilitate TemTem’s co-op gameplay. With every battle being 2v2, you have to think about your line up in some different ways. It’s not only important who you have in your squad, but how each TemTem synergizes with each other in battle. Certain TemTem's abilities are boosted in a variety of ways if they’re paired in battle with other TemTems of the correct type.
Pokémon’s PP system is also reworked into something called Stamina, which is essentially a mana system. In Pokémon, you tend to be able to just spam your most powerful move and destroy your enemies, but in TemTem you’ll have to carefully plan your moves due to the limited Stamina each TemTem has. You can technically continue to use abilities once your Stamina is depleted, but your TemTem will take damage.
The game is also just more difficult overall. I don’t know if this changes at higher levels, but in no way did I feel like I was breezing through the battles in alpha. The game can be outright hard at times and grinding is definitely a thing. That’s not a negative for me, but your mileage may vary here. I realize grinding isn’t popular with everyone.
Competitive gameplay is also a focus in TemTem. To that end, and to improve the game in general, Crema decided to limit the RNG elements (ex. Crits) in the game. PvP even has a pick and ban system. If you love battling real players in Pokémon, you’ll definitely want to keep a close eye on TemTem.
There are a ton of other quality-of-life changes Crema’s made with TemTem to improve on the Pokémon formula that fans have requested for years. It’s clear Crema has its finger on the pulse on what veterans of the Pokémon series want to see improved and they’ve applied those ideas to TemTem. If nothing else, maybe this will get GameFreak to sit up and take notice.
The one thing I’m a bit apprehensive of with this game is the TemTem designs. I’m kind of mixed on them. Sure, Pokémon has a bunch of terrible designs, but overall GameFreak does a pretty good job at making some fun and interesting creatures to collect. I’ve only come across a limited number of the total TemTem in the alpha and there are plenty more to be added in Early Access on the road to launch, so I don’t want to judge too early, but the designs have been hit-or-miss for me, so far. Oftentimes, it’s hard to tell what type a TemTem is at a glance, so this is a bit of a more practical than aesthetic concern at times as well.
What’s your take on TemTem? Will you be playing in Early Access or at launch? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!