Your eyes don’t deceive you; you read the title correctly. As many Pokémon trainers have realized by now, the quality of the main series titles have been dropping for a couple of years now. People have even pinpointed the start of the decline as 2013, with the release of Pokémon X and Y. Everything afterwords just didn’t have as much passion put into it.
Many other people can complain to you about the problems with Pokémon right now, but I want to fix it. I will most likely continue to play the main line games, but until a big change happens with the Pokémon game’s quality, I want something different.
As I write this article, I think maybe this is just Covid getting to me. I haven’t been to Pokémon League for many months now, and I’m just missing the interaction. It feels like an excuse, but I can’t deny that as a whole, Pokémon used to have better video games.
I first heard about Temtem from a Youtube video, complaining about how Pokémon’s hidden values, EVs and IVs, are handled. I saw Temtem being compared to Pokémon again in another video, in which Pokémon’s graphics were being complained about.
To be honest, the seller for me was the fact that this game was advertising itself. While trying to get my CCG fix from Yu-Gi-Oh! and researching deck inspiration, Temtem was there, waiting for me. It took a few days for me to make a decision, but for a few days my mind was all over Temtem.
For the context of this review, I play Pokémon VGC format competitively, meaning that I love double battles (RIP Triple battles). I also plan to get into competitive Temtem, meaning that I will be breeding and trading for Temtem with the best stats after I finish the story.
This game is also in open beta, meaning that it is not finished yet. Certain mechanics and features that have been added to the game in the future may not be covered here.
Exploring the New Temtem Battle System and World
So finally, the game. It started out with a character customization screen with lots of clothes, face, and body options. Temtem even gives the player the option to change their pronouns, a welcome, modern addition to this type of game, as well as a stab at Pokémon’s “Are you a boy or a girl?” meme.
The typical RPG/Pokémon beginning routine then starts: wake up, mom, send-off, blocked by NPC, go to lab, rival, choose a starter. In Temtem, the starter creatures are not fire/water/grass, but instead crystal (Temtem‘s steel type), melee (fighting type), and mental (psychic type).
Unlike tradition, your rival, Max (who shares a name with my younger brother), destroys you in your first Temtem battle. The player is then directed towards the academy where you learn about the new battle system.
The battles in Pokémon are one of the driving forces that make me want to play, so when I tried out Temtem, I wanted some intense tactical fights. One reason that Temtem appealed to me, was that it was trying to improve upon the battle system that Pokémon got me addicted to.
In Temtem, each tamer can have a party of one to six Temtem. In a battle, your first two Temtem in your party are sent out. Each turn, a command can be given to each Temtem, or an item can be used instead of a command. Temtem also have up to four techniques (moves), one or two elemental types, and the numerical stats: HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed. This should all be familiar to Pokémon trainers who play doubles formats.
A new stat shakes up the game in Temtem: Stamina. There are no Power Points for techniques in Temtem, as they use Stamina instead. Each technique uses a certain number of Stamina, specific to each technique, which is depleted from its maximum. A little Stamina is recovered every turn for each Temtem.
Techniques can be used, regardless of whether the Temtem has enough Stamina, but using Stamina beyond what’s left cuts into its HP. Doing also also “overexerts” the Temtem and it can’t use any techniques next turn. To balance the Stamina mechanic, the “rest” command is a generic command all Temtem can use, separate from its four techniques, allowing the Temtem to do nothing for a turn.
Another stat that techniques have is a number of turns that a Temtem must hold before using that technique. This makes techniques less “spam-able” and restricts more powerful techniques to later turns. There are also techniques that get more powerful if the Temtem’s ally Temtem is a certain type, reminding me slightly of the the “Pledge” moves from Pokémon.
This is the basics of what I have been introduced to so far. The Temtem’s “EVs and IVs” are called “TVs and SVs”, both which work slightly different from Pokémon. I haven’t taken the time to really learn the status conditions either, though I think there are more than Pokémon. I just got to the island where you can breed, but I haven’t gotten into it yet, so I may write about it later.
Something that I wasn’t expecting to be super amazing that ended up being so was Temtem‘s world building. I would have liked to say that Pokémon also has good world building, it has always been outshined by other games. Temtem appears to take great inspiration from Pokémon Sun and Moon up to where I played, and it shows.
Temtem takes place on an archipelago, and new islands are unlocked as you advance through the story. I’ve only been on two islands, but each one had its own culture and flavor.
The NPCs contribute to this sense tremendously. The conversations with them are mostly dialogue trees with three options. Most of the responses that you can say lead into more dialogue choices. This really makes you feel like you are in the game.
Sometimes, you are given a witty and sarcastic dialogue option, which are hilarious. I am really hoping there isn’t a hidden morality number being kept track of, as I choose these options a lot. One of my favorite moments with Temtem so far is when an NPC references a “goose chase” and the player can respond with “What is a goose?”
I’ve written a lot about this game today, so I think I’m going to call it quits here. I definitely plan to write more about this game though once I play more. There seems to be much more about Temtem that I don’t know about yet. The story is also getting intense as well with an actually threatening evil organization. Though I am dreading the upcoming breading process, I am excited to possibly start playing more competitively.