theme It’s technically been available on PS5 for the better part of two years, but with the game now out of its early access phase, it’s time we gave it a proper shake-up. The RPG is now fully featured, and while some might dismiss it as an unholy imitation of Pokemonthe game does enough to stand on its own.
Fundamentally, it it is family. As a young aspiring Temtem trainer, you receive one of the titular monsters and a Tempedia to start your journey. As you venture into the airborne archipelago, your goals are simple: capture new species of Temtem, train a team of six, battle other tamers, and ultimately become the best, like no one ever was. This framework is tried and tested, of course, but it works; finding new monsters, learning which ones you like, and progressing through the world remains compelling here.
Quickly, the game distances itself from its inspiration. You can fully customize your character, for one thing, but it’s with battles that you’ll start to notice some key differences. They are 2v2 as standard. This is not a new idea, but having all fights in this format means a greater emphasis on strategic play. The moves your creatures learn will often benefit their teammate on the battlefield, or become stronger depending on the type of ally. A simple example: a Water-type move deals regular damage, but if the other Temtem on your side of the field has a Fire-type, the move will also inflict the Burn status effect. There are all sorts of synergistic opportunities like this, and it means movesets can influence who you choose to be in your party.
Battles can be surprisingly challenging, and it’s not just because you need to think more about what monsters you’re sending out. Each move has a stamina cost, taken from one meter below your Temtem’s health. Stronger techniques will cost more, but will obviously deplete your stamina bar faster. Using a move that you can’t “afford” will start using up HP instead, and this will overload your Temtem, meaning they’ll skip a turn. Stamina management will also inform your choice of moves in addition to team synergies and opposition typing. In fact, some moves force you to think about whether a Temtem is on the left or the right; the Chain Lightning technique, for example, hits Temtem three times, moving in a clockwise direction. All of that plus Temtem’s type perks and traits, which are passive abilities that can be activated during battles, means there’s a lot to think about.
You will meet many other tamers during the game, be it in friendly matches between cities, the rival Max or the adversary Clan Belsoto. They usually lead the way forward through the world, which is quite diverse across the six main islands. Deniz begins with large bodies of water and simple grassy plains, while Omninesia features autumnal forests and a large volcano, and so on. Progress is fairly linear, though you’re free to explore as you please. We enjoyed the almost Metroidvanian nature of the game; Throughout the main quest, you’ll gather equipment that will allow you to reach new areas by surfing, climbing, skating on certain surfaces, and more. It is a very well designed environment.
The main objective of the adventure takes you through eight Dojos that act as you expect, testing your strength and skills at all times. This family structure is supported by a story and characters that sadly won’t live long in the memory, though some shocking tonal shifts may draw attention. Human NPCs are not memorable, actually, they blend in with everyone else due to similar facial features, hair, and clothing. The Temtem themselves are slightly better, with a handful of clean designs, though we found most to be rather bland as well.
Fortunately, if you like to play despite the game’s flaws, there are a lot to do. There’s a fairly long main campaign to complete, dozens of side quests, competitive battles and tournaments, and much more once you get to the end of the game. Also, Temtem is always online and the world is populated by other players going about their business. Through the menus, you can interact with them by fighting, trading, sending messages, and you can even join them in cooperative mode. This allows you to play through the story alongside another tamer, following the first one on the main quest. It’s a great game, and that’s not to mention the cosmetics you can buy with money or the Tamer Pass with even more rewards.
The fact that it’s online just means the occasional server downtime or other glitch, but it’s not so frequent that it’s too annoying. One big advantage is that you don’t have to worry about saving manually; the game records your progress, even up to where you were standing when you turned off the game. Sometimes the game pauses for a second when you enter or exit a building, but other than that performance is 60 frames per second. We should also quickly mention the DualSense haptic feedback, which was implemented very well, especially during battles.
Overall, Temtem is a generous and well-made monster taming RPG that sets itself apart enough from the obvious competition. The battle system is perhaps its main strength, offering quite challenging 2v2 fights even against wild encounters. It’s packed with things to do and its online integration means connecting with other players is easy. The creature designs could be better, and the writing and human characters aren’t particularly memorable, but if the game works for you, those weaknesses will fade into the background.