At the outset, I am acutely aware that my sentiments in this post probably will not align with most of the community here. That's fine - this is my personal love letter to the devs for making a game that I've enjoyed so much.
I started playing TemTem rather recently, only around 2 months ago. As a person with a 80-hour week corporate job, I pretty much only have the evenings to really invest into TemTem, though I've been playing it on and off on my Switch even during work - I'm literally that hooked. I end up binging it (10+ hours) during the weekends. So it's quite crazy to me that I've somehow racked up 500 hours with this schedule in a meager 2 months.
Starting off, the overall quality and polish of this game is off the charts. I've played every Pokemon generation, many rom hacks, Coromon, Nexomon and Monster Sanctuary. While they all have redeeming points in their own right, TemTem's aesthetic, music and graphics blow most of them out of the water. The animations, temtem design, evolutions, UI/UX, lumas, and cosmetics all feel so premium. Would definitely like to give a particular shout out to the animations. The flashyness and magnitude of some skills really feel satisfying. It's small details here that I think really add to the overall quality, like how the controller vibrates during the high-impact portion of some big animations. Of course, it's kind of funny when you have the over-the-top Psychic Collaborator animation go off only to deal 10% of the opposing Tem's HP, but this is still a good thing to me. I'd take anime-style flashy animations over the alternative, any day of the week.
The map design and music is top notch too. This truly feels like a professional competitor to Pokemon. Every other monster catcher game I've played still has that indie feel to it, but Crema has somehow succeeded in making TemTem feel like any other AAA title in terms of overall quality and design. Really, can't stress this enough, the game looks and feels like a proper, commercial title with big game-studio money, not a passion project kickstarter.
Co-op was a big draw for me. I started playing this game with my wife (shoutout to Princess High) and we had a blast doing the story and strategizing together. If I'm not mistaken, this is the only game in the genre with such a full-fledged and well implemented co-op story. I understand this falls off a bit towards the endgame - will get to this in the due course.
I liked that the story was obviously targetted towards a more mature audience. While it retained the simplicity that comes with a typical Pokemon game, the dialogues and narrative felt fluid and natural; I don't think anyone would disagee that the game is extremely well written (in terms of linguistics, not plot depth) and I say that as a writer myself. I also think that a huge success of the story is that it forces you to engage with things like TV training, breeding, min-maxing, replacing Tems, etc. These are all systems that exist in other monster catchers but don't feel very relevant outside of competitive battling. TemTem does PVE right on that front, and that's without mention to the innovative draft pick system adding further depth and complexity to the decision making process. As an avid Pokemon competitive battler, at no point did I feel like the story was too hard (I breezed through most of it with a Nagaise and Adoroboros lol) but I was definitely making it a point to TV train my tems and carefully study my moves and how they would play out with the held levels and stamina mechanic. Overall, a raw improvement on both the narrative and depth of strategy experienced in any of the Pokemon stories.
Regarding the endgame and MMO aspects; I only have one simple contention - this game has far more content in the endgame than any other monster catcher game I've played. And content that requires you to think; content that requires you to to innovate and build new teams. I like this and wish more monster catchers did this. I'll be the first to say that the rewards aren't great - but this isn't a big deal for me as it is for others, since I primarily play games like these to strategize and compete with myself and my own benchmarks - so it's always been more about the intrinsic reward than the extrinsic.
Getting relatively perfect tems is easy too - in terms of Pansun cost, it costs me about 30k-50k to buy perfect SVs, 180 feathers to get (almost) perfect TVs. This is about 3-4 competitive games in terms of cost, and 15 minutes of training from level 1 - 100, which is extremely reasonable. At the end of my story, I had enough pansuns and feathers to put together 2 entire teams aka 16 perfectly crafted tems. I had to be a bit crafty with my resources, obviously, and had to really filter the sh*t out of the auction house, but it was doable and that's pretty awesome.
Of course, the endgame isn't perfect, and I do wish that there was more multi-player content besides the raids, especially with how the game handles co-op throughout the story. This is my only real gripe with the game at the moment - I'm still playing actively with my wife, but we really don't have much to do together, so we just end up doing our own thing. That's okay though since the rest of the game makes up for it.
I think everyone agrees that PVP is one of the things that TemTem does brilliantly, so won't go into that in too much detail - but I love that balance patches regularly shift up the meta. In the presence of Showdown that lets you tinker with builds with absolutely no opportunity cost except the time investment, this is very welcomed as far as I'm concerned.
All in all, my experience has been great so far even after around 500 hours. I keep making new friends in competitive PVP to try out wacky builds against, I've basically done all the content there is to do in the game (sidequests, item hunts, radars, saipark, TP, archtamers etc etc) but still feel the urge to continue playing just because of the overall polish and strategic depth that this game has, all while maintaining the same light and relaxing tone that drew us to monster catchers in the first place. The roguelike nature of the lairs also creates relatively unique experiences each time and keeps me coming back to them. Next on my bucketlist is to join a club with likeminded folks and really get serious about the tournaments and dojo wars.
I'm not usually one to write review posts. But in view of the negativity we've been seeing, I just thought it was necessary to make this post to let Crema know that I'm one of the people who appreciates this magnificent piece of art that TemTem is. Nothing is perfect; but the Monster Catcher genre in general is not one many indie developers take a risk in, because of the general lack of replayability.
Again, it's small details that get me - like the way KB/M and Controller are so seemlessly implemented, or the way the Co-op story flows, or how the UI is so clean universally across all the various systems integrated into the game.. the list goes on. To get such a overall high quality game which is just a strict improvement on Pokemon (imo) in almost all aspects takes effort, real effort, and I highly doubt we'll get anything like it in a long long time.
So kudos to you, Crema! Keep doing what you're doing :)
PS: I've been competitive battling in Pokemon since 2010 and I have yet to see a game with TemTem's strategic depth in PvP.
tl;dr: 9.5/10External link →