Temtem preview: A Pokemon-like PC MMO with a bumpy road ahead
There's a lot to be said for this newcomer to the MMORPG scene.
Temtem is grabbing the attention of many a PC player looking for a Pokémon-like game to enjoy. Developed by Crema and published by Humble Bundle, it's a game all about collecting creatures called Temtem in a multiplayer, online setting. It's still early days for this game, since it is in early access on Steam. The developers do plan to bring the game to consoles at a later date. With that said, there's already a lot to enjoy and a lot to dissect from what Crema has released so far.
What is Temtem?
Temtem is a game about collecting, well, Temtems. After choosing a starter, you head out into the Airborne Archipelago, the floating islands where the game takes place. You'll catch Temtem in the wild, build up your squad, and beat other Temtem trainers. There are even eight Dojo leaders to beat so that you can eventually become the ultimate terrific Temtem trainer.
If you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, that sounds almost exactly like Pokémon" then, well, yes. That's the entire point. While Pokémon has online elements and raid battles, Temtem is explicitly an MMORPG. You can still play by yourself, of course, but part of the fun comes from challenging other trainers online, not just the scripted NPCs. A friend can even join you, changing the game with two-on-two battles that allow for more strategy.
Crema is planning for the full version of Temtem to have over 161 different Temtem, alongside features like housing, an Arcade Bar, Clubs, and more.
What I like about Temtem
To start things off, you're not just choosing between a handful of character models. You can fully customize and deck out your trainer, with a very comprehensive character creator. Do note that you'll need a unique name, so the more people that play, the more difficulty you may have getting the name you want.
Crema clearly understands the battle mechanics for this type of game quite well, and it's a lot of fun arranging your Temtem for battle in your squad, which can hold up to eight different Temtem. As the Temtem earn experience, they unlock different abilities, and at least so far, it seems like there's a decent balance between the different types and how they play off of each other.
You can't let the charming art style and cute Temtems lure you into a false sense of security, because some of these battles are surprisingly difficult. Even when you're leveling your squad up and using items as fast as possible, it actually feels like you can lose from time to time, which is good. Very rarely have the frequent Temtem fights felt boring, you need to be resting your Temtems and planning out your moves in order to succeed.
What I don't like about Temtem
At the early section you can see above (in the image on the right), I was faced with four encounters in the same small area, back to back. Each time I completed an encounter, I was able to take one step before immediately being thrown into another fight. Maybe I was just extremely unlucky, but even other areas of grass have really high encounter rates.
It's not just oddly high amounts of battles early on, though. Right now, there is a very high chance you'll be faced with gnarly queue times. Sometimes these queues don't take too long to get through, while other times, you may as well go ahead and fix a drink or two. It's a bit unpredictable and something you'll need to keep in mind if you'll only have limited amounts of time to play.
There are also some irritating bugs. Almost every time I've played, I've had the mouse cursor disappear and refuse to reappear. It just gets stuck, and while you can navigate solely using the keys, it's annoying to lose the option of using your mouse, especially during Temtem battles, where the mouse can easily select different items or abilities.
Should you buy Temtem?
Right now, Temtem is in early access, so you can get it at a somewhat cheaper price than when it eventually releases in full. You'll also need to understand that it's a work in progress, and many aspects can and will change. Right now, queue times can be aggravating, and you could run into the occasional glitch.
Still, there really is a lot to like here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Crema evolves this formula and takes fan feedback.
Train and battle online
If you are okay with some rough edges and the quirks of early access, Temtem provides a monster-catching and training game in a massive online setting that you might find refreshing.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.