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access_time February 7, 2021 at 8:00 AM in Reviews by Kieran Toovey

Early Access Review | Temtem

Remember the first time you played Pokémon? While it was over 20 years ago for me, I remember it very well. A friend with a Game Boy let me try it out, which led to lots of aimless wandering and some fairly uneventful battles, but I immediately felt the magic. I spent the next couple of months picking up extra chores around the house, offering my services to neighbors, and begging my parents for help to afford a Game Boy and Pokémon. Eventually, the day came when my mother took me to purchase Pokémon Blue. Countless fun hours followed, and to this day, I consider it to be in my top 10 games of all-time. Fast forward to present day, and there have been several more enjoyable Pokémon games. Even recent alternative options like Nexomon: Extinction have provided hours of entertainment. Which brings us to the newest offering: Temtem.

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Currently in Early Access on PC and PS5, Temtem is another monster-catching game that brings a new flavor to the table. Developed by Spanish studio Crema, Temtem offers new creature designs, gameplay mechanics, and an art style that varies quite a bit from others in the genre. As of this publication, there are currently 108 Temtems, but the developers have stated and the in-game Tempedia show that more than 141 total Temtems will be available upon full release. And for the most part, they look different from their Pokémon, Digimon, and Nexomon distant cousins.

The gameplay and story feel most similar to Pokémon Red and Blue, with very similar pacing and character archetypes. But the end result feels more honorific and nostalgic than a rip-off. The art style on the other hand feels very different from the other games in the genre. With an animated and almost pastel aesthetic, and unique environments, it never comes across as “I’ve seen this a bunch of times before.”

But does it do the other things well?

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Pros:

The online elements are awesome. PC and PS5 players can team up, battle one another, and trade with ease. There’s also an easy to access in-game message board where players can ask questions, see announcements, and receive tips during their journey. Later in the game, players will be able to buy a house in a dedicated suburb, which leads to a housing element akin to the Animal Crossing series.

Along with character and clothing designs, this leads to a lot of fun and personalized customizations. A very friendly in-game map highlights points of interest and lays out the environment very well. This cuts down on unnecessary running around and confusion of where to go next. Rather than having to use an HM or equip an item for traversal, the game automatically does it. Going from walking on land, to surfing across the water, to climbing a rock wall are seamless transitions.

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Cons:

Personally, I find that the graphics (especially human faces, which look like Miis) leave a lot to be desired. The environments feel drab and muted in their detail. While battling, certain moves cannot be performed because they are “not ready”, even though you have the stamina to perform them. I found this to be the most annoying mechanic and hope that this feature is removed, or at least made less impactful. Going along with the previous point, battles tend to be slow and plodding affairs. Even when it’s two of your Temtems versus one of theirs, all actions and animations feel unnecessarily drawn out.

Seemingly a cool feature initially, it becomes annoying when an opposing Temtem is defeated and it shows EXP earned at the end of the turn, even though the battle is still ongoing. Seeing that my starter gained 100 experience points and still having to fight three more Temtems to end the battle comes across as pointless. And while it’s great that you can see other human players on-screen, the environment can become so crowded that it becomes unpleasant to look at. This is especially noticeable in Dojos, the Temtem equivalent of Gyms in Pokémon.

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The Verdict:

While it’s hard to say how different Temtem will be when it fully releases, it currently comes across as a mixed bag. A different look, but a very similar feel prevents it from feeling revolutionary. For fans of the genre, this is an easy one to recommend picking up or at least keeping an eye on leading up to release. As for casuals, it probably doesn’t do enough to keep you coming back for more.

Early Access Score: 7.5 out of 10

Early Access Scores don’t represent the final score of the game, as things are subject to change. We will provide an official final score once the game launches. This score simply stands for the current experience.

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