Temtem has technically been available on PS5 for the best part of two years, but with the game now out of its early access phase, it’s time we give it a fair shake. The RPG is now fully featured, and while some may hand-waving it as some unholy imitation of Pokémon, the game is good enough to stand on its own two feet.
Basically, it Is Familiar. As a young, aspiring Temtem instructor, you are given a Titanic monster and a Tempedia to begin your journey. As you enter the Airborne Archipelago, your goals are straightforward: capture new Temtem species, train a team of six, fight other Tamers, and eventually become the best there has never been. This framework is tried and tested, but it works; Finding new monsters, learning which ones you like best, and progressing through the world remains fascinating here.
Quite quickly, the game distances itself from its inspiration. You can completely customize your character, for one thing, but it’s with fighting that you’ll start to notice some significant differences. They are 2 vs 2 as standard. It’s not a new idea, but having all the fights in this format means more emphasis on strategic play. The moves your creatures learn often benefit their teammates on the battlefield, or become stronger depending on the type of ally they have. A simple example: a water type move deals regular damage, but if the other Temtem in your area has fire typing, this move will also take a burn status effect. There are all kinds of synergistic opportunities like this, and that means the moves can affect who you choose in your party.
Fighting 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, which is taken from one meter below your Temtem’s health. Stronger techniques will cost more, but obviously it will deplete your stamina faster. Using a move that you can’t “afford” will start using HP instead, and it will overexert your Temtem, meaning they will skip a turn. Managing stamina will inform your choice of moves in addition to team coordination and the typing of the opposition. In fact, some moves actually make you think whether a Temtem is on the left or on the right; For example, the Chain Lightning technique strikes the tempem three times in turn, rotating clockwise. All that plus type advantages and Temtem traits, which are passive abilities that can activate during battle, means there’s a fair amount to think about.
Throughout the game you’ll encounter many other tamers, whether it’s a friendly match between townsfolk, rival Max, or the opposing clan Belsoto. They generally travel their way forward through the world, which is quite diverse across the six main islands. Deniz starts you off with large bodies of water and simple grasslands, while Omnisia offers autumnal woodlands and a large volcano, and so on. Progression is pretty linear, though you’re free to explore however you like. We enjoy the almost Metroidvania nature of the game; During the main quest you’ll collect equipment that lets you reach new areas by surfing, climbing, skating on certain surfaces, and more. This is a well designed setting.
The main thrust of the adventure brings you through eight dojos that act as you expect, testing your strength and skills. This familiar structure is supported by a story and characters that sadly won’t last long in memory, though some confrontational tonal variations may raise an eyebrow. Human NPCs are not memorable, in fact, due to similar facial features, hair, and clothing blending in with everyone else. The Temtem itself is a bit better, with some neat designs, though we found most to be quite soft as well.
Fortunately, if you like to play despite the game’s flaws, there is Many to do. There’s a long main campaign to get through dozens of side quests, competitive battles and tournaments, and more once you reach the endgame. In addition, Temtem is always online, and other players in the world go about their business. Through the menu you can interact with them by war, trade, send messages and even you can join co-operation with them. This lets you run the story with another tamer in the main quest as quickly as possible. It’s a big game, and that’s not to mention the cosmetics you can buy with currency, or Tamer Pass with even more rewards.
The fact that it’s online only means that you’ll occasionally encounter server dropouts or other technical glitches, but it’s not going to be too much of a nuisance. One big advantage is that there’s no manual saving to worry about; The game charts your progress, even down to where you stood when you closed the game. Sometimes the game pauses for a second when you enter or exit a building, but other than that, the performance is pretty smooth at 60 frames-per-second. We should also give a quick shout-out to DualSense haptic feedback, which is implemented very well, especially during combat.
Overall, Temtem is a well-made, eclectic monster-taming RPG that sets itself apart significantly from the obvious competition. The combat system is probably its main strength, offering plenty of challenging 2-on-2 fights, even against wild encounters. It’s packed with stuff to do, and its online integration means it’s easy to connect with other players. The creature’s designs could have been better, and the writing and human characters aren’t particularly memorable, but if the game clicks for you, those weaknesses will fade into the background.