TemTem by Crema (Published by Humble Bundle) – Releasing to Early Access on Jan 21, 2020
MSRP $34.99 – PC (PS4, Xbox One, Switch coming at a later date)
TemTem is a Pokemon clone. This is not a surprise from looking at footage from the game. What is surprising though is the level of depth and a lot of smart game design decisions that refreshes the Pokemon formula enough to entice beleaguered fans who are getting tired of the juggernaut franchise.
The game looks great, sounds great, and feels great and that’s only the beginning. Some smart game design choices include streamlining a lot of the user interface so that it no longer wastes time. Healing your TemTem squad is a simple one button interaction with no dialogue at the healing terminal. The same design choice is seen in arranging TemTem in your squad as well as from your storage boxes. The game feels and flows very quickly and smoothly.
The game removes the barrier of entry for new players while retaining the complexity of the battle system. For example, TemTem do not forget moves when they learn new ones. You can simply drag and drop to rearrange your move set from all known moves. This is a fantastic change. There’s no reason to not have this feature in Pokemon. It gives you a lot of freedom to experiment and toy around with all the possible move combinations without having to catch and train more TemTem if you made a mistake with learning moves.
The game adds new mechanics as well. TemTem battles are always in pairs. By using two TemTem, it adds in new team dynamics. Synergy comes into play here where TemTem of the same type boost each other’s attacks. Each TemTem also has a special trait that adds in a level of complexity to possible pairings. For example, one trait increases the attack of that TemTem when a status condition is inflicted on it. Moves require stamina and that is reset every battle and slowly restores over time. It does not use the PP system of Pokemon and this changes the flow of battle considerably.
In addition to all of this, the game adds in MMO like quests. You are given objectives and given rewards as you complete them. It creates the effect of having the characters and the world feel more alive. There was one side quest where you faked being a tour guide to a group of restless tourists. By answering their questions correctly, which required some knowledge of the game lore, you were able to fool the tourists and receive a prize of an umbrella from the tour operator. The umbrella is can be equipped by TemTem to reduce Water based attacks by 20%. This small, one off side quest makes the world and characters feel more real while providing actual rewards that impact the game.
With a streamlined, efficient user interface, freedom to experiment without punishment, new mechanics, and a more lively world, TemTem is looking like a great competitor to Pokemon in the monster collecting genre. Did I mention it’s a MMO as well?