Temtem review for PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: PS5
Also on: PC, Xbox Series X, Switch
Publisher: Crema Games
Developer: Crema Games
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1-99
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

The existence of Temtem is simultaneously the most obvious thing imaginable, and completely baffling.

See, it?s basically an attempt to create a Pok?mon MMO. Given how Pok?mon functions and plays, that makes a lot of sense ? I mean, it?s a game all about exploring a world and battling the trainers you meet along the way, so it?s not a huge leap to imagine what it would be like if you actually got to play against other people, rather than just against Game Freak?s creations.

Where things get baffling is when you look at how Temtem copies its influence. While it hits a lot of the same beats as your standard Pok?mon games ? you start off in a village, your first task is to go talk to a professor, the professor gives you a monster, you start off on a series of quests, etc, etc, etc ? the gameplay features some weird choices.

For one thing, Temtem features a lot of 2 vs 2 battles right from the get-go. For another, it doesn?t ease you into the world against basic enemies, it throws challenging trainers and monsters right away. Combine those two facts, and it means you?ll find yourself in wars of attrition from the very first battle. You?ll probably largely win those battles at first, and you?ll avoid the trap of having one hugely developed monster and plenty that aren?t, but you?ll still come away with severely diminished monsters who are low on health and stamina. Couple that with the fact that the game is pretty stingy when it comes to doling out healing items compared to your usual Pok?mon game (where the world seems to be littered with those), and you can see why it?s very easy to use up everything Temtem gives you before you?ve barely made a dent in looking around the map.

As a consequence of this, you spend a lot of your time in Temtem grinding your way through supposedly ?easy? battles again and again and again ? though even the easiest battles still take a lot out of your monsters. Even when there seems to be a mismatch between your leveled-up monster and an opponent in the low single digits, it?s a lot more likely that your opponents will faint from overexertion than that you?ll be taking them out.

The health/stamina interplay is another area where Temtem borrows from Pok?mon, but gets it all wrong. Your stamina matters just as much as your health: if your stamina gets depleted it cuts into your health, and it?s entirely possible to cause your own monster to faint from overexertion. That may add a note of realism to Temtem, but it certainly doesn?t make it more fun.

And that?s the one area where Temtem unfortunately forgot to copy from Pok?mon: they forgot to make it fun. They may have copied the Nintendo behemoth in lots of ways, and the game may provide an interesting glimpse into how Pok?mon might look with a more populated world, but anyone hoping this would displace (or even come close to) the venerable series will find themselves sorely disappointed.

Crema Games provided us with a Temtem PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+