Monster collecting fans on Xbox can rejoice—a wild Temtem has appeared! Developed by Crema and published by Humble Games, Temtem is an always online ‘creature-collection adventure’ game. Much in the vein of Pokémon (and to a lesser extent Youkai Watch, Digimon, etc), Crema’s latest title is all about leading your player character, a newly made Temtem ‘Tamer’, who will adventure out into the vast islands that make up the game called the Airborne Archipelago and do what any good Tamer does: tame Temtem.
This game has been in the making for quite a while, making rounds through Steam’s Early Access program on PC for a little over two years now. It’s September release marks its full 1.0 release alongside its console debut on Xbox, making its bed right alongside the likes of Ooblets and Nexomon. Yes, the console wasn’t without its own Pokémon-likes, but I think the game makes for a far stronger offering for the platform thanks to the content available and the social connectivity that intertwines in-between said content.
So, let’s talk Temtem.
Taming Sounds Better than Job Hunting
At the very heart of Temtem is its battle system. It would be a bit presumptuous of me to assume the reader knows how a Pokémon game plays but doing so lets me get to the interesting parts of the game—its stamina system, techniques, and move behaviour. Temtem’s turn-based gameplay is based on your cute little monster’s available moveset against a limited amount of stamina available to them at the beginning of battle. Depending on the move used, the bar drains quickly, and exceeding stamina usage causes your creature to overexert and damage themselves, making them vulnerable (and in turn, leaving the trainer in an awkward position). Certain moves are also unavailable when a monster is summoned to battle, ensuring that high damage moves aren’t available for immediate use and leaving for a fairer fight.
I like this system a lot. It gives players, trainers, and Temtem alike a lot of room to make a comeback from a weaker position. The AI benefits as much from this system as the player does, even when it does lead to some annoying situations like the wild monsters KO’ing itself before you have the chance to catch it. But I feel it leads to less fights that feel stale—and lends to better pacing as a whole—such as encouraging monster swaps whenever possible or allowing items to be used in larger cadence. In conjunction with moves that can lead to interesting strategies, such as pairing up particular species of monsters to power up certain moves or positioning certain attacks that chain between Temtem, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the game’s combat system.
Besides taming and battling, players can also breed Temtem, but that stuff was never my forte. If you’re interested, there’s plenty of guides out there on getting that ‘perfect’ specimen. I was more than satisfied just taming and leveling up with what I had. Speaking of leveling up, I do have some gripes about how experience is distributed to fallen creatures, but I’ll chalk that up to one of the rules of the game even if it does get a bit frustrating.
Always Online, Possibly Everchanging
Temtem is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (“MMO”), meaning you need a constant internet connection as well as an active Xbox Live Gold or Game Pass Ultimate membership to play. And in this game’s case, the online aspect is crucial for the title as I would have had little interest in continuing without it. Yes, the gameplay is solid, but being able to see other players and interact with them in such a seamless way is so satisfying to watch. There are plenty of players chatting in global chat*, offering help or just having fun, and enforced crossplay means the pool of player’s will always be at its maximum. The service has been stable, too, and the game will recover from crashes much better than I expected, even when the player was in battle or if they were simply resuming from Quick Resume.
Of course, as an MMO, you get to be creative with yourself. The game’s character creator is solid and there’s a lot of features you can play around with. I think you can really feel at home with yourself here, even if there aren’t hundreds of sliders available. There’s also housing available once you’ve taken on the appropriate sidequest (and there’s plenty of those to go around, trust me). And for battle seekers, completed Dojos (think Gyms) can be challenged weekly for more difficult challenges and, obviously, for rewards.
The downside to being an MMO is that progression can feel much slower than a singleplayer experience. Making money in Temtem, for example, can take a little while, and Temtem will eat up your hard-earned currency up, whether its clothing that has caught your eye or simply losing a battle, saving up can be a task. Mind, this won’t halt progress in the story for players but being part of any game with heavy social aspects will encourage players to stand out. If you’ve completed the main campaign, there’s the ‘Tamer Pass’ that you can consider buying that will unlock additional bonuses and other cosmetics not found in the game. It’s not a bad idea, especially when you can spend a lot of time playing this game, but it does make me a little curious about future content updates and how they’ll be rolled out.
For me, Temtem’s strong foundation is what kept me coming back. Going through the game’s main campaign, I didn’t really care much for the characters, much less the dialogue (thankfully nearly all of it can be skipped by holding the ‘B’ button). I don’t like how the map is set up and how objectives are placed within it. The visuals are too clean for my liking, and the Temtem designs literally lack texture and leave me feeling unsatisfied. To be fair, monster design is hard to pull off, and some of my favourites from other games are basically abominations, but without the gameplay tied to the exceedingly well-thought social aspects, I do not think I would care for this game as much as I do now.
I have questions about the game’s future content plans in conjunction with the game’s monetisation model and MMO aspect. There are features in the works and will be added later on according to the developers, such as competitive modes and seasonal events. I would love to see them change their minds and add more content, such as new regions and more Temtem. A live service fits this title very well, and it’d be a shame to stop at modes.
Temtem has a lot of content to crawl through and it makes for a great MMO. Even if it’s not the most charming monster collecting game, it’s certainly one of the best I’ve seen from a western developer yet.
* A small note to parents: Temtem is rated for older children; however, the game’s chat function means they’ll be exposed to language you might be uncomfortable with. No surprise there, as it’s an online game and you can’t rate interactions. The title does have a built-in profanity filter, but words do slip through.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox Series, PlayStation 5, PC Steam/Humble, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||6th of September, 2022|
|ESRB Rating||E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up – Use of Alcohol, Mild Fantasy Violence, Language|