Though Nintendo’s Pokémon franchise has dominated the creature collection genre for more than 20 years, Temtem is looking to shake up the formula. Crema’s creature collector MMO doubles down on what works, at times feeling overtly influenced by the pocket monsters that have come before. But it also strikes out on its own unique path, perhaps first and foremost being that it’s a multiplayer game played in a shared online world with other players, and its accessibility outside of the Nintendo sphere of influence. There are plenty of other aspects throughout that present a fresh take on the formula.
Having just launched in Early Access on PS5 in December, following its PC launch in February 2020, we were curious to talk to the team about Temtem’s obvious Pokémon blueprint, the things that makes it unique, and some surprising influences from things like Destiny 2 as they continue to march towards the full 1.0 release.
That journey towards full release hasn’t been without hurdles. 2020 was a tough year for everyone, and the initial Temtem early access launch on PC happened in February, just before the pandemic altered the state of the world for the better part of the year. Crema is still hard at work on bringing new updates, content, and fixes to the game for early access players on both PS5 and PC, but the previously outlined roadmap timelines have changed. The developer recently recommitted some expectations in a blog post regarding that original roadmap, admitting that laying out public deadlines was stressful on the team and they’d rather deliver content when it’s ready, as well as having the flexibility and freedom to add and adjust features along the way.
Crema took some time to tell us a little bit about the future of the game—including planned PS5-specific features like Haptic Feedback—what makes it different from your average creature collector, and a few other interesting details about the franchise.
PlayStation LifeStyle: There are obvious and clear parallels to another popular creature collection franchise, but some pretty vast differences too. What do you feel sets Temtem apart as more than just a clone?
Crema: The main differences anyone can see are two. First of all, the multiplayer integration. Temtem is a massively multiplayer game, so every interaction with other players is totally integrated in the core of the game, you don’t need to go to a special location to battle other players, or wait in lobbies, you meet someone during your travel and can battle them instantly. This gives a whole new approach on how you play the game.
Second of all, it’s the competitive focus. In Temtem we’ve iterated multiple times the combat design to end up with a battle system 100% focused on player skill and efficiency. We’ve removed all the random factors in battles and created several new systems to help with this.
PSLS: The other franchise benefits from a card collection game, an anime, spinoffs, products, and more than two decades of pop culture familiarity. How do you hope to elevate Temtem to a more instantly recognizable position?
Crema: Our main goal with Temtem is not to dethrone anyone or even try to compete with other games with 25+ years of history. We just want to create a new take on the formula which can be more fitting for certain users.
However, we do want to expand the Temtem franchise and we currently have many things in the works.
PSLS: Besides creature collection games, what other influences are helping to guide the ongoing development of Temtem?
Crema: On the artistic side we’ve taken a lot from games in the Legend of Zelda franchise, especially how everything feels and trying to give the same “magic” to our world.
On the design side, we’ve been influenced by many many games. Lately we’ve been looking a lot at how Destiny 2 handles their multiplayer components and interactions.
PSLS: As a living game, Temtem doesn’t have the benefit of a “reset” at the beginning of each new game. How do you hope to regularly change the meta and convince people to keep coming back to collect and train all the newly added creatures, rather than just leaning on an already trained and powered up team?
Crema: Based on our experience during the Early Access updates, the competitive community is always welcoming new and changing metas. Also, one of our aims is to reduce the friction between capturing a Temtem and making it ready for competitive play. As an example, the current ranked matchmaking features an autoscaling system for Temtem, so even if you don’t have a perfected creature, the game will automatically scale it for you to make it perfect.
PSLS: Are there any plans to take advantage of the PS5’s unique features (DualSense Haptics, Adaptive Triggers, 3D Audio, etc.) by the time the full 1.0 release happens?
Crema: Yes, we currently support Activity Cards and we’re looking forward to supporting additional PS5 features like the DualSense Haptic Feedback. Whatever makes sense for a game like Temtem, we’ll be looking forward to implementing it in the future.
PSLS: The early game can be rather overwhelming off the jump, with a lot to learn about Temtem’s unique creature archetypes and a variety of other gameplay elements to digest (admittedly, I had to head online to look up some helpful starter tips and guides to get me going). Are there plans to smooth this onboarding ramp for new players with the 1.0 release?
Crema: We’re looking to improve our tutorialization throughout development, especially as we start identifying stress points for players. Things like the PS5 Activity Cards is another feature we’re planning on diving more into to help on-board new players. We’re continuously tweaking the early game to smooth out the experience for new players while still maintaining a fair challenge. We want players to deliberately think about each decision and feel rewarded by their successes.
PSLS: While Temtem does have the obvious archetype circles like Fire, Water, and Nature, what prompted the decision to have the three starters be the more ambiguous Crystal, Mental, and Melee?
Crema: We tested different possible trios for the starters and we ended up selecting the current starters because they strike a nice balance of appealing to different player personas while also being strategically different.
PSLS: Will future Temtem updates introduce additional “starters” in any way (akin to three new Fire, Water, and Grass starters for each new generation of games in “that other franchise”) and if so, will they all continue to follow the established Crystal, Mental, and Melee setup?
Crema: We haven’t really thought about that for now, but we’re not locked to Crystal, Mental, and Melee.
PSLS: How will the full 1.0 release differ from what players can get now in Early Access? Are there any particular things you’ve learned from the new consoles players since the game launched in Early Access on PS5?
Crema: The campaign will be completed, with two additional new islands. There will be more activities to do, including a whole new mini-island dedicated to endgame activities. And obviously, the full roster of planned Tems will be available too.
PSLS: Where do you see Temtem in the next 3 to 5 years?
Crema: We’re currently focused on finishing what we have ahead, which is completing the game and releasing the 1.0, so we don’t have much to talk about what will happen after that. Lots of things we’re looking forward to showing off!
Thank you to the team at Crema for taking the time to talk to us about Temtem. You can hop into Temtem’s early access on PS5 and PC now and help build the game up towards its full 1.0 release.