Do you know why they are called stress tests? Because they will stress you out, make you want to tear your hair apart. Well, perhaps the official reason behind these tests is something more elaborate, like getting the servers under severe pressure and to try and break them, like Crema is trying to do in a series of brief Temtem stress tests. Or, as I prefer to call them, Queue Simulator 2020 or Black Screen Reboot Saga. It was all worth it in the end to get these early Temtem impressions though, even if I lost a few strands of hair in the process.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Temtem is destined to become a gigantic hit, you can mark my words. It’s not because it oozes originality or showcases high production values – no, this is an educated guess based on the visible excitement surrounding the imminent release of a true Pokémon MMO game, minus the Pokémon. And no, Pokémon Go doesn’t entirely fit into the desired MMO pattern.
Let’s not sugarcoat it, Temtem is ostensibly inspired by Nintendo’s franchise and barely manages to play it safe as to avoid a cease and desist letter from the fine folks at Nintendo. Because you’re not catching Pokémon here; instead, you’re taming Temtem. You see, you’re not a trainer, you’re a tamer, which makes a whole world of difference, doesn’t it?
But that’s beyond the point, and the point in question here is that Temtem is the game that everyone wishes for a long time. It’s not just another Pokémon clone, it’s a Pokémon MMO and a labor of love by a group of developers who were clever enough to see the opportunity and grab it by the… Pokéballs.
Gotta Tame ’Em All | Temtem Preview
Your first step in Temtem is the creation of your in-game avatar, the tamer that you will control. You can choose between male or female, skin color, and one of four idle poses. Next up is the choice of face and hair, followed by top, bottom, and backpack. Don’t expect any sort of groundbreaking character creation system, as there is no option to tweak advanced features such as body parts or add tattoos, but all things considered, it’s a very decent and straight to the point creator. Besides, it gives you a first insight into the awfully cute graphics that power the world of Temtem. It’s a mix between Pokémon Sword and Shield and The Sims 4, albeit in a cleaner, less detailed yet very colorful art style.
Personally, I love it to bits. The interiors are exceptionally cozy and neatly designed, with your standard appliances livening up the place: the flat-screen TV, the comfy sofa, and the kitchen cabinets look very inviting. However, someone should tell aunt Aina not to leave that huge kitchen knife lying around, there are reckless kids running around everywhere, barging into other people’s homes without warning.
Thankfully, the house equipment isn’t there just to look pretty; Temtem comes with a full housing system, allowing you to buy your house at Atoll Row and give it the makeover that you wish for. Although I haven’t progressed enough to try this feature – I was far busier rebooting the game and crossing my fingers –, I can see this aspect becoming extremely popular among tamers everywhere. You can purchase furniture and place it wherever you want to, decorate your walls, and invite your friends over.
Outside, the lovely island of Deniz awaits us, one of the six floating isles that Temtem has for us to explore. Embrace this lush Mediterranean paradise with its sunny beaches, grass, and trees. It’s an idyllic place where water and wind Temtem proliferate, usually hiding deep within the tall grass, waiting for you to come by.
The main character design and animation is as cute as can be, and the Temtem themselves are nothing to be ashamed of either. Early on, you’ll only find small and somewhat cute Temtem, but these will evolve into sophisticated creatures that demand respect, while remaining as your faithful companions in the journey to defeat the evil Team Roc… I mean, Clan Belsoto, who is trying to rule over the Archipelago.
While there is nothing sizable to complain in terms of visuals, I can’t say the same thing about the map design. I’m not very fond of the way that the game funnels you along a mostly linear path, destroying any genuine feeling of exploration that you might be looking for. As an MMO, it should offer more freedom and encourage you and your friends to go out exploring, discovering new and wondrous places at your own pace. Instead, you’re often asked to follow this road and dance to the tune of its makers, in an old-fashioned and arguable design. Besides, it dearly lacks a jump button.
To make myself perfectly clear, you do have the ability to drop off ledges to explore some otherwise inaccessible areas. However, the outcome is that you’re forced to run the same path again to return to your previous location, because you are unable to climb even the smallest ledge. This way, the world becomes narrow and constricted, a feeling that is heightened by the number of players that are traveling around almost in a single file fashion. Hopefully, the other islands offer more and vaster open areas to lessen this odd claustrophobic feel.
Apart from the scripted combats that make the storyline progress, Temtem has a fair share of random encounters. You’re peacefully traversing some tall grass when, suddenly, a hotheaded wild creature decides that it is a beautiful day for a brawl. If you think that it could make a nice addition to your squad, go ahead and use a TemCard to try and capture it.
Tamers can have up to six Temtem in your squad, but you can only use two at a time in battle. Your first tricky decision arrives early on, when you are invited to pick your Temtem among a selection of three: Crystle (Crystal type), Smazee (Melee type), and Houchic (Mental type). At a certain level, your Temtem evolves into a much more fearful creature. The TemPedia available in the game currently displays 141 Temtem, a very reasonable number for a new franchise.
Battles in Temtem may seem as straightforward as they come, with a natural order to creature types and how they affect one another, but there are some underlying tricks that give the upper hand to the best strategists. Combat is turn-based and mostly 2v2, with each Temtem having a set of four techniques to use against their opponents. You can attack or apply various other effects, with every technique costing a certain number of stamina points. While it may look shallow to the inattentive player, there are features such as technique holds and synergies that provide the battles with enough depth to hopefully keep them engrossing for a long time, especially in the competitive scene.
By the end of the four hours of the first stress test, Temtem was finally stable, and I was enjoying my time capturing wild creatures and exploring new parts of the map. Suddenly, the fun came to a halt as the servers were abrutply closed and every tamer was sent packing. It was fun while it lasted, and the substantial amount of stress and frustration was entirely worth it.
With the Temtem Early Access release date set for January 21, 2020, the excitement for this game is peaking. After so many years, we may finally get a real Pokémon MMO; it may be coming under a different guise, but it brings the same amount of charm and crazy creatures as you would expect from such a game.