I want to start this off by saying I know that TemTem is early access. It’s very difficult to forget as it’s plastered everywhere. There’s also this giant notification that you get when launching the game. I also know that early access games can change a lot from the time they “launch in EA” to the time they “actually launch”. You can see the roadmap here. There’s a lot still to come.
So I wasn’t expecting a finished game. From most of the reviews I expected a not quite finished but very playable game. And so far that’s what I’ve gotten.
This weekend I spent some time re-acquainting myself with the game and working towards beating the first Dojo. I bought this a few weeks ago after a friend picked it up. The main draw for me was a Co-Op pokemon game so I wasn’t too interested until someone I could play with had it. I played around 2 hours that first day and didn’t touch it again until last week. At the time of this writing I have 12 hours in the game but I haven’t done enough Co-Op to form an opinion on it yet.
For the most part, TemTem is a reskinned pokemon you can play on PC. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After so many years of learning which pokemon are which type and what those type match-ups are, it’s refreshing to have to learn something new. This leads to situations where using certain attacks will do very little damage. But after a while, I’m starting to learn what moves to use when and when my TemTems are about to be at an extreme disadvantage.
I was going to list all of the similarities and realized it would just be easier to list what’s different: The Battle System. While it’s still turn-based and relies on knowing type match-ups it has a few key differences that make it it’s own.
The first is that every battle is a doubles battle. With two TemTems out at all times there’s some interesting strategies and synergies. My favorite is to use Chain Lightning with a partner who’s resistant to electric damage. Chain Lightning hits 3 TemTems clockwise so you hit both of your opponents and your partner. When you forget your partner is a water type things don’t go so well…
Then there’s the stamina system. Instead of PP in pokemon where each move has a limited number of uses TemTem has stamina amounts for each move. Each TemTem has a different stamina pool based on their stats. You can use a move if it exceeds your stamina pool but it will take a chunk of your health depending on just how little stamina you have. If a TemTem overexerts itself by using all of its stamina it needs to rest for a turn. I find this adds a bit more strategy to battles. Do I go for the big hit and hope for a knockout or do I reserve my stamina for a few rounds with little attacks? Do I sacrifice some health and take out the opposing TemTem this round or take 2 rounds to KO?
I will say that TemTem is harder than recent Pokemon games. There is a lot of grinding involved to level up a newly added team member. In the first few zones, there aren’t a lot of effective type match-ups so battles go on longer. After the first Dojo when you h have access to the water, leveling new TemTems is easier but still slower than recent
The whole game feels tougher thanks to the doubles format and the stamina system. I find that I have to switch TemTems mid-battle a lot more than I do in Pokemon. Beating Sophia, the first Dojo leader, took me two tries with about 2 hours of leveling in between. Unlike Pokemon’s gym leaders, Sophia had different types of TemTems so I couldn’t exploit one type match up the whole time.
Whether or not it’s worth the $35 price tag right now remains to be seen. Judging from the steam reviews there are 30-40 hours of PVE content right now. 12 hours in, I’ve only beaten 1 dojo and there appears to be 4 in the game right now so I’d say that’s about right. The game also just got competitive matchmaking, if you’re into that kind of thing, which is sure to extend the time you can spend with the game.