The Temtem alpha test has come and gone, and I have to say it was a more encouraging experience than I expected. When you see a game that is a very blatant Pokemon-like, then only increases its ambitions by adding in online multiplayer and an MMO experience, it might seem like a risky endeavor. There’s a lot of good going on here, as well as room to grow into something worth playing. (Even if there are some minor hiccups as it grows.) It might make people want to at least look into becoming a Temtem apprentice, provided they enjoyed being a Pokemon trainer or Digi-destined.
While Temtem is definitely inspired by Pokemon, its battle system presented me with shades of Dragon Quest Monsters and other monster-collecting games. It is a 2v2 system, where if you are playing cooperatively each person tosses one Temtem out onto the field. Rather than a set number of moves, each creature has its own stamina gauge, and every attack requires a certain amount to use. (Some even have a cooldown period.) If you use an attack and stamina is depleted, your creature hurts itself and needs to sit out for a round to regroup. Since you have two creatures, you actually get two actions per turn. (If you are playing in co-op, each person gets one.)
It is the little things that helped make the Temtem battles stand out. For example, synergy means playing strategically is a big deal. Different Temtems have attacks or traits that mean placing them in parties with other characters can be beneficial. Swali/Loali knows the Urushiol attack. If it has a Toxic-type ally alongside it, Urushiol+ will kick in and poison the enemy it hits for four turns when it is used. Houchic has the Mental Alliance trait. If its ally is also a Mental-type, then its special attack goes up by 15%. It also handles experience in a practical way. If you KO an enemy creature in battle, your Temtem that participated in the fight against it get experience doled out at the end of that turn. (This might even cause one to evolve in the midst of the fight.) The game already has these sorts of little details.
Also, I have to say that I love these cute freaking creatures. I didn’t want to love them, mind you. I purposely didn’t name any of my partners, because I didn’t want to get attached to these monsters. There was a data wipe. They are gone. But I love them. I love how, when Swali finally learns an actual attack, it JUMPS at the enemy, but then flops onto the ground. Even though I have seen more Paharos than I would ever want to in the last 72 hours, I still think the little dance they do when they use Stare on an opponent is the best thing. I thought Saku was an ugly upgrade for Kaku, until I saw how it sort of bobs and weaves when it hovers around. The darn thing won me over.
The Temtem alpha also showed off other encouraging features. One is that this is a genuinely challenging monster-collecting game. If you somehow managed to go from the first town to the second in one run, without doubling back to the initial town or midway point to heal, I would be in awe of you. The trainers appearing here could present an actual challenge. (Some trainer battles were even optional, if you chose certain dialogue prompts.) The monster encounters weren’t overwhelming, but could throw a 2v2 fight at you when you really didn’t need it.
Another is how it incentivizes returning to past areas. In addition to spots where things like climbing gear or a surfboard will get you access to new things, there are sidequests that have you looking for people, trying to find items, or maybe attempting to catch a Temtem to show someone. None of these quests feel like the grindy ones you might find in other MMOs. They’re more like natural errands people might ask of a young adult.
Were there issues with the Temtem alpha? Certainly, but none that would convince me to not consider playing in early access or when the final product is released. The frame rate could slow a bit when I was playing cooperatively and there was a full 2v2 match or during a particularly active screen with a lot of people running around. There really needs to be a communication method for co-op exploring, so you can let someone know you need to take a moment to readjust your squad order or heal characters up before proceeding. I would have appreciated some more variety in Temtem encounters, as I was innundated by Paharos. (Paharos are the new Rattatas.)
Still, after spending three days with the Temtem alpha, it has been mostly encouraging. There are a lot of nuances the game nails. Battling is fun and has some refreshing strategic elements that Pokemon and other monster-collecting RPGs haven’t enabled. The creatures and their animations look great. It doesn’t feel like a grind. Yes, it needs to grow, but this Pokemon-like MMO could have the potential to be something great.
Temtem will enter early access on PCs on January 21, 2020. Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions are planned. Its Kickstarter was launched back in June 2018 and raised $573,939 from 11,716 people.