Temtem is a dream game for many long-time Pokémon fans: embracing online multiplayer while providing a deeper and more satisfying battle system. We didn’t quite fall in love with it — the indie Pokémon clone sorely lacks the creature charm of its progenitor. And the art design often leave something to be desired.

But there’s plenty of reasons to give Temtem a chance, whether you’re a longtime fan of the genre, or someone who’s bounced off years ago and looking for something a bit meatier.

Love 2v2 battles

Temtem’s most fundamental change to the traditional Pokémon battle system is adding a second Temtem to each side. To be fair, the Pokémon series has included 2v2 (or Doubles) since Gen 3 in the early 2000s. But they were always a special side course, never the main dish.

In Temtem, every single battle features a pair of Temtem on each side (save for the occasional lone wild Temtem). This drastically increases the strategic depth and combo potential in every battle. Buffs and debuffs become much more meaningful when applying them doesn’t take up your only move. And certain moves are enhanced when paired with specific elemental partners.

Love the stamina system

The other big difference in Temtem’s battles is the stamina system. Replacing PP from Pokémon, each move costs a set amount of stamina. When a Temtem’s stamina runs out, it starts depleting from their health bars — yikes! I have to be very careful about which move to use, and when, instead of just mindlessly spamming my strongest ability.

The stamina system also encourages swapping to different Temtem during prolonged battles. It adds an interesting wrinkle to combat without becoming too tedious.

Love side quests

Not until Pokémon Legends: Arceus did we truly see proper side quests in a Pokémon game. Temtem deploys a huge amount of side quests throughout each island. The quests encourage exploring into the far corners, capturing certain Temtem, or completing certain challenges.

The MMO world design greatly benefits from side quests taking me to different areas and regions, and giving me hints of what I should be doing, aside from the main story.

Love the challenge

Let’s face it: most mainline Pokémon games are stupidly easy. Each game is designed with children in mind, and teens and adults quickly grow out of their laughably easy gym battles and exploitable enemy weaknesses.

Temtem is much more rigorously balanced. Type advantages are still beneficial, but rarely result in extreme OHKOs. Weak and near-useless moves have been completely eliminated, leaving AI enemies much more formidable. And healing supplies are far more limited, creating satisfyingly tense dungeon crawls. Temtem represents the next step if you’ve long since mastered Pokémon’s relative simplicity.

Temtem is available on PC (Steam), Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. It’s rated E10+.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.