With Temtem’s early access release on the PlayStation 5 comes a Pokémon-like romp for PlayStation gamers to dive into, with developer Crema’s adventure more similar to Nintendo’s famed monster-catching series than anything else that has come before it. Sure, we’ve seen similar titles release over the years, but this takes the established formula and REALLY runs with it – of course, with a few ideas of its own thrown into the mix for good measure.
One of those is an MMO element, with players joined on their adventure by other players that are also happily running around each locale. It makes the world feel that bit more believable and lived in, especially since one of the biggest aspects of these kind of games is the fact that you’re just ONE of thousands upon thousands of trainers out scouring the land for new creatures to add to their collection.
Whilst having a world like this makes it easier to battle, trade, or simply interact with other players, Temtem goes one better by allowing you to play through the entirety of its adventure in online co-op with a friend. It’s exactly what I decided to do for this review; we don’t typically look at reviewing early access titles here at Use a Potion, but we’ve made an exception here to detail just how enjoyable Temtem’s co-op adventure is – even in its current early access form.
It is worth reiterating that it’s an early access title though, so the things I talk about in this review may change by the time that the game gets an official release.
From the get-go, Temtem doesn’t even try to hide its similarities to the Pokémon series. You take on the role of a kid (who’s fully customisable with some neat options, might I add) that’s leaving home to go out on an adventure, but not before visiting the local professor to pick their first Temtem from three different choices and grabbing a Tempedia to fill in with details of the creatures they encounter along the way… heck, they’ll even battle their friend/rival to kick things off. It’s the same intro to an adventure that we’ve seen done time and time before in the past… why fix what isn’t broken, I guess? You’re also given a bird Temtem named Tuwai from the get-go that is this game’s version of Eevee thanks to its multiple evolution routes, so I suppose that does change things up a little.
I’m not knocking the introduction because it’s really charming in itself and I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the sort of thing that Pokémon fans would be looking for from a game that wears its inspirations like a big badge of honour. Besides, it’s what Temtem does following the brief intro that matters most, with each player’s online escapade kicking off as soon as they leave the professor’s home.
I noticed other players running around the area almost immediately, with plenty of trainers being trailed by one of their Temtem as they explored their surroundings – it felt as though I was playing a typical MMO. It’s the sort of thing that I’ve wanted to see in the Pokémon series for years, so experiencing it from the get-go here brought a big smile to my face. I also quickly noticed my co-op partner in the distance, with his mental-type Temtem Touchic following close behind. I went for Crystle, by the way, which is a crystal-type Temtem that reminds me a bit of a crystallised turtle.
As soon as I saw him, I was able to find his profile information in the player list, add him to my friends, and invite him to a co-op game. It really is as simple as that to play co-op in Temtem, with players only having to select their starter Temtem before kicking off their adventure with a friend. Your progress continually saves along the way too, so you can drop in and out of the adventure with ease.
Whilst there are plenty of different aspects of the game’s co-op mode to explore, the most important comes in battling – especially since it’s what you’ll spend most of your time doing in Temtem, whether that’s when battling Temtem in the wild, other trainers, or the dojo leaders that act as an assessment of your progress.
One of the biggest changes in how Temtem handles combat when compared to Pokémon comes with the fact that players take two different Temtem from their party of six into battle at a time. This makes co-op play feel a lot more natural, with each player able to direct commands to their own Temtem when in an enemy encounter. Whilst you’ll often find yourself in two-versus-one encounters in your favour, the majority of battles are two-on-two, so you never have too much of an advantage.
Know how I said you get six creatures in a party? Well, that’s made up of three from each player, so you will have to co-ordinate between yourselves carefully if you want a diverse selection that utilises the strengths and weaknesses of each Temtem’s different elements. What’s also interesting is the fact that each player can only control their own Temtem – if the three you brought into the party get knocked out and you have to bring one of your allies’ Temtem into the battle in their place, you won’t be the one to issue commands to it. It’s something that’s worth bearing in mind if you want to ensure you have some say in how battles play out.
Otherwise, combat mostly feels the same as it does in Pokémon (or just about any other turn-based RPG for that matter). Each Temtem takes it in turn to perform their actions (which is determined by the skill they’re using and any speed buffs or debuffs), with things such as resting to restore stamina, swapping out Temtem, or using an item also taking up a turn. Resting is pretty important, with each Temtem’s skills using a certain amount of stamina. Don’t have enough stamina to perform a skill? Some of your HP will be depleted to make up for it, with the Temtem then having to rest on their next turn to get rid of their exhaustion. This is a really neat idea that adds an extra element of strategy to battles; is it worth performing a more powerful attack at the expense of your HP when your stamina is low, or is it too much of a risk and might leave you more vulnerable to a potential defeat? Whilst you don’t have to worry about it too much with battles in the wild, some trainers will really push your skills to their limit and will take a bit of forward thinking to take down.
Oh, and capturing Temtem works as you’d expect, with players weakening wild creatures and then using a TemCard to attempt to catch them. The biggest issue with this in co-op is deciding who gets to try and capture each one! Fortunately, we didn’t come across any unique or legendary Temtem that only ONE player can catch in our time playing so far, but there’s no real guarantee that might not happen later on in the game…
When you’re not out battling you can explore the towns of the game to purchase items in the shops, heal up your Temtem, or even take on side quests. The side quests are tracked in a similar manner to your typical RPG, so it’s easy to know where you have to go in order to complete them. Most of the bigger towns also have a dojo, which is Temtem’s equivalent of Pokémon’s gyms. You won’t earn badges for completing them, but you will have to clear them if you hope to progress through the game.
You’ll travel through a variety of different areas as you move between towns, but, much like the Pokémon series, it’s all pretty linear in design. There’s always a clear path to follow through each area that’s inhabited by an array of different trainers to battle, whilst you can also encounter wild Temtem in the grassy areas. It was a shame that they weren’t a bit more open in design – whilst they did have a few areas that you can’t access until you have the necessary gear to do so, I felt like exploring these locales was mostly just a case of going from point A to B.
It’s worth noting that there’s no rubber-banding in place when exploring in co-op though, so you and your ally can run off and do whatever you please. It felt nice not to be restricted, though you will swiftly teleport back to one another if you initiate a battle or enter a building. It might SOUND like an inconvenience, but it’s actually a swift and convenient way to find your way back to each other if you find your attention diverted by something else momentarily.
A lot of my enjoyment came from simply being in a co-op game with my friend, too. We had a PlayStation party set up as we played so were communicating via voice chat and discussing each and every element of the game with excitement as we progressed – whether that was when encountering a new Temtem for the first time, beating a tricky foe in a dojo, or when pointing out that we’ve found some loot. Both players can collect loot and share experience points, by the way, so no one has to miss out when playing.
It just felt REALLY nice to experience the game with a friend, especially since we have both been eagerly anticipating some form of ‘co-op multiplayer Pokémon’ for years. Sure, it might be Temtem instead of Pokémon, but it does a damn good job of replicating the experience that we had invested our childhood (and adulthood) into over the years.
It helps that the Temtem themselves are all creatively designed, with an array to uncover and evolve throughout the game that are colourful and full of character. There are over one-hundred available in the game’s early access form, with over sixty more expected to be available in the final game. The early access only includes four of the six islands expected in the full game, but there’s still meant to be over thirty hours of gameplay included in that so you won’t be done with the adventure too quickly.
So what else can players expect from Temtem in the future? Well, besides seeing more story content and Temtem to catch, there’ll also be expanded multiplayer features such as clans and the trading house, an array of end-game activities, and even a harder difficulty for players who like more of a challenge. Crema have clearly been hard at work developing a game that’s heavily inspired by Pokémon, but that also has a ton of its own unique flair to help it stand out – who knows what else might be on the horizon for the game? There’s a heck of a lot to see in the early access release which I’ve still yet to uncover though, whilst the fact that it looks fantastic, runs smoothly, and has zero network issues that I’ve come across shows that it’s a lot more stable than other early access releases out there.
The best part of all? It’s a blast to play in co-op. I’ve had so much fun playing the game with a friend so far, whether it’s when working together in combat, uncovering the world and completing its many quests, or discovering (and capturing) new Temtem. Everyone wants to show off their collection right? Well, that’s just as satisfying here as it is in any other monster-catching game, whilst the fact you can battle online or trade Temtem means there’s more than enough ways to share the experience with other players. Did I mention that you can also purchase and customise your own house, breed Temtem, go fishing, or even catch Luma Temtem (this game’s equivalent of Shinys)? They’re just some of the feature that already make Temtem so addictively satisfying to play.
I’m not going to score Temtem right now because it’s still in early access, but it’s an easy title to recommend to gamers looking for a Pokémon-like fix on their PlayStation 5. It features all of the hallmarks of the series to make it appeal to fans, but also includes enough of its own ideas to help it stand on its own two feet as a unique and enjoyable experience – add the online co-op functionality to the mix and it’s clear that Crema have something pretty special on their hands here. You can expect to hear more from me in the future as I continue my co-op Temtem adventure…
Publisher: Humble Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PC