Temtem has finally been released into the wild with the end of early access, but how does it stack up against Pokemon? Are all of those comparisons fair? And which one is better? Let’s find out.
Ever since Temtem was first announced, one of the biggest talking points has been its similarities to Pokemon. It’s not surprising, really, considering how both games are focused on catching adorable creatures and battling your way to the top.
But there are some differences between the two; Pokemon has decades of lore, recognizable characters, and almost a thousand creatures under its belt, while Temtem has MMO elements, a higher difficulty level, and some interesting additions to battles.
So which one is better? We’ve compared a variety of factors like customization, battling, catching, and visuals to see which game emerges victorious. For the purpose of this comparison, we’re looking at the latest mainline Pokemon release, Sword & Shield.
The most important part of any creature-collecting game is the design of the creatures themselves. If they’re not appealing – whether that’s because they’re cute, scary, cool, or powerful – then that desire to catch ’em all and train them up for battles just won’t be there.
Temtem sort of gets this right. The creatures are definitely cute and have their own unique feel, but none of them really jump out as the ‘must-have’ Temtem. This could be down to the visual style or the more predictable evolution lines, or maybe they’re just not as interesting as Pokemon.
There’s definitely something about Pokemon designs that really hit the spot – even the ugliest ones – which is plain to see in how popular merchandise for the franchise is. There’s a clear winner here in our eyes.
Pokemon games have always been minimal when it comes to character customization. In Sword & Shield, for example, you can choose between eight pre-made avatars (four male and four female), but that’s pretty much it. The franchise has made good strides when it comes to clothing and hairstyles that can be purchased from shops, but the base character customization options remain incredibly limited.
Temtem on the other hand has a full character customization menu with plenty of options to change facial features, body type, and skin color. Clothing and hairstyles aren’t limited by gender and you can even select your pronouns. We don’t particularly like the art direction of the characters in Temtem, but the actual customization options are spot-on for a game like this.
Aside from catching ’em all, the most important gameplay mechanic in Pokemon has always been battling. These turn-based fights have a lot more depth than many people realize, with different elemental types, abilities, stats, and setup moves to take into consideration. There’s a reason the format has hardly changed over the past few decades: It just works.
Temtem makes the sensible decision to follow a very similar battle format as Pokemon, although there are a few additions that make these fights more interesting. The most obvious one is that battles always take place in a doubles format, meaning you’ll need at least two strong TemTem leading your party at all times. It also makes type matchups a little more difficult to work around.
Hold techniques are moves that require a Temtem to be in battle for a certain amount of turns before they can be used. Temtem can have two status conditions like poisoned or burned at any one time instead of just one. Also, each Temtem has a unified stamina bar rather than PP for each individual move which feels a lot more intuitive.
These might seem like small changes in the grand scheme of things, but they’re enough to make battles more interesting (and a much bigger challenge) in Temtem than in Pokemon.
Catching a new species to add to your Pokedex is easily the most exciting part of Pokemon. While the process is almost identical in Temtem – bring their health down, place a status condition on them, throw a TemCard – nothing can compare to the feeling of watching that Poke Ball wiggle around before finally clicking shut with a satisfying sound effect.
Pokemon also has the advantage of having multiple types of Poke Ball to experiment with, such as the Dive Ball for underwater creatures and the ultra-rare Master Ball for those elusive Legendaries.
Pokemon games (in particular the recently-released Legends Arceus) have always had a bad reputation for low-quality graphics and dated visuals. It’s a shame, because the art style and creature designs are great, but the consoles they live on have never really had the power to be able to push the franchise to its full potential.
In some ways, Temtem has the ‘modern’ graphics that Pokemon fans have been waiting for, with smoother visuals and fewer of those pixelated edges. What holds it back, though, is the art style (which is simple and a little bit flat) and the lack of details. It looks more like a mobile release rather than a proper console game.
If we’re being honest, we don’t think either franchise is a winner when it comes to visuals.
Winner: It’s a tie (but if we had to choose it would probably be Pokemon)
Music has always been a standout feature of the Pokemon franchise. Whether you’re entering a spooky area like Lavender Town or encountering a powerful Legendary Pokemon, the music and sound effects make everything feel more atmospheric. Even the 8-bit tunes from back in the Gameboy days remain iconic despite the handheld’s obvious technical limitations.
Temtem doesn’t really hit the mark here. The music is pleasant but a little forgettable, and the repetitive soundbites that play when talking to characters become grating quite quickly. The battle cries of each Temtem are interesting, though.
Based on everything we’ve discussed so far, we feel confident in saying that Pokemon games reign supreme. There’s just too much that the franchise gets right, which is probably down to the decades of experience behind it, and the overall package feels higher quality and more enjoyable.
That doesn’t mean you should rule out Temtem entirely. Despite the similarities, Temtem offers a bigger challenge for more experienced gamers and the MMO elements are a nice touch. There are hours of gameplay to work through and just like Pokemon, there’s a decent amount of endgame content too.
If you’re a big Pokemon fan but feel like you’ve played through the games a hundred times by now, it might be worth giving Temtem a try!