As a long-time Pokémon fan, I booted up the game on PS5 and expected to blitz my rivals in an instant, but the game had other plans. When someone tells you a game is difficult, it’s human nature to dismiss it, right? ‘I’m an experienced gamer,’ I thought. ‘I’ll be fine.’ Well, it turns out Temtem is actually pretty hard and in the game’s first area I was almost immediately knocked on my arse.
That’s not to say it’s complex at all. Far from it. If you’ve played a Pokémon game you’ll be familiar with the mechanics here. It’s a clear homage to the classic pocket monster game with all the monsters and items given a name change and face lift. The visual style is slightly different and has a more vector-based indie style but the skeleton of Pokémon can clearly be seen.
In Temtem you explore small towns, catch wild monsters lurking in the grass and face down trainers along the way. But unlike Pokémon, Temtem focuses on battling over exploration. The worlds you travel through are filled with trainers and each battle is more difficult than the last.
If you’re set on going full-speed ahead through the game’s world and knocking down everything in your path, you’re in for a rough time. Temtem actively discourages the bull-in-a-china-shop approach.
Your starter Temtems are weak little things, and you’ll need to be constantly applying balm to their wounds and monitoring their stamina. If they overexert themselves, they can suffer major damage. It makes battling in Temtem‘s world a bit more strategic than traditional Pokémon titles, but it also ramps up the stress factor. Even if you can land a final blow on your enemies, there’s always a chance you’ll take your own Temtems out with it.
It means you need an effective strategy and planning to even survive.
Levelling is also a more strenuous process because your Temtems evolve slowly. There’s ways to get around it and build your team in increments but unless you’re keen to grind, Temtem can be a bit of a slog. Your team easily takes damage and you can pass out on a whim. Balms are also expensive so you’ll find yourself running out of stock quickly with no means to replace them.
It means rather than taking a linear path you’ll need to be constantly doubling back to healing centres just to get by. While the throttle eases off the more your Temtems grow, it’s a long path to mastering the trainer battles and getting through the world in one piece. It’s still a fun adventure, but you’ll need to work to really enjoy the ride.
Temtem is bright, colourful and vibrant. The game looks and feels gorgeous on next gen, and it’s great to see monster battlers making their way to consoles other than the Nintendo Switch. But it is a dangerous world out there, and forming a strategy is key.
Strategies for playing Temtem
- Buy as many balms as you can, but try not to use them. Cash is often in short supply and you’ll find yourself running out of spare change quickly. Instead of constantly healing your Temtems with balms, you should try doubling back to healing centres and taking advantage of their free services.
- Rest your Temtems when they’re exhausted. It’s okay to take a break during battle, and you should absolutely give your Temtems the chance to rest if they’re exhausted. Overexerting them in battle will only waste their health and lead to dire situations.
- Complete side quests. These quests often have obtuse solutions, but you’ll want to tackle as many of them as possible. Each quest brings great rewards including the cash you’ll need to acquire balms and TemCards.
- Catch wild Temtems easily with status conditions. This is an old trick from the Pokémon book. If you’re looking to catch wild Temtems (and you should always have full stock in case your favourites faint) you should try and force ‘asleep’ status or other conditions on them. They’ll be caught far more easily.
- Pay attention to Temtem types. This is another lesson from the world of Pokémon. When you’re battling, coloured rings will indicate how effective your Temtems’ moves will be against other Temtems. Pay attention to these rings and make sure you’re unleashing the most effective attack you can.
- Grind between trainers. You’ll often encounter strings of trainers in the wild, each more difficult than the last. Heal up between these encounters or battle wild Temtems between rounds. This will help reduce the grind of the game and help you build up your team. It also gives the opportunity to heal up before tackling a new challenge.
- Speak to everyone. Most wild encounters will be trainer battles, but other characters will give you worthwhile side quests. It’s a good rule to chat to every character that isn’t another online player to complete as many quest lines as possible.
- Push through the pain. Your Temtems will start off weak, and you may feel pretty lost in the game’s opening chapters. The good news is you can overcome this difficulty with a bit of effort. It does require some grind, but if you give up early you’ll miss out on a cute little gem of a game.
You’ll still need to stay vigilant and monitor your Temtems’ health, but with the right approach you can breeze through the difficult opening chapters and get to the real meat of the game. Temtem is great fun despite its shocking opening difficulty. If you’re overwhelmed at first take a breath, reconsider your learned strategies and dive back in.
There’s plenty to love about the game once you understand its core mechanics.