Created by a small studio counting just 15 people, Testament: The Order of High Human is a seriously ambitious endeavor, but it’s far from perfect.
I could throw all the currently popular buzzwords at Testament: The Order of High Human, and they would probably stick. Part action RPG, part Metroidvania, this indie title is full of potential, but, unfortunately, it fails to deliver on its promise in some key areas.
Testament: The Order of High Human will release on PC and consoles on July 13. We’ve been provided a preview build of the game, which I completed in just under an hour and a half. You can try out the PC demo for yourself on Steam.
Story and setting
In Testament, players take on the role of Aran, the king of High Humans turned mortal after being betrayed by his own brother, Arva.
We don’t know exactly what happened in the events leading up to the game’s story, but whatever Arva did, it also changed Tessara, the land in which Testament is set.
It is now a post-apocalyptic, hellish landscape filled with bloodthirsty monsters and warring factions.
It’s up to Aran to restore peace and prosperity to Tessara, as the king and protector of the realm.
It’s all fairly basic fantasy stuff, but it was enough to hook me.
The backstory is intricate enough to make you want to explore more, and with the protagonist being involved at a personal level, there’s an added layer of family drama.
I’m excited to see where Fairyship takes the story, but from what I’ve seen so far, the voice acting, dialogue, and some of the exposition choices are questionable at times.
Some of Aran’s lines sound rather artificial and unconvincing, and on more than one occasion, the protagonist recites the plot’s premise and events from the past to himself in order to fill the player in.
Hopefully, this is just an early game exposition device, and we won’t hear too much self-dialogue later on in the full version of the action RPG.
Testament: The Order of High Human gameplay
Fairyship’s most ambitious project to date juggles between genres and well-established gaming concepts.
There are Soulslike boss fights, a modern RPG skill tree and progression system, and finally, first-person melee combat that doesn’t feel quite right, especially against large groups of enemies.
Exploration and movement are definitely some of the strongest suits of Testament: The Order of High Human.
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You can jump, sprint, and wall-run, and there’s a surprising amount of parkour sequences for a game set in a fantasy world.
The first-person perspective and exploration gameplay are very reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls games.
This is especially true in the Demo’s First location, a somewhat generic fantasy forest that gave me strong Oblivion vibes.
Speaking of locations and dungeons, I have to give credit to Fairyship for designing varied levels with lots of verticalities.
With smooth and intuitive movement controls, it was a pleasure to run, jump, and climb through the three locations included in the demo.
The puzzles and platforming in the first dungeon, an underground temple where Aran got his first magic ability, also surprised me. It felt like something straight out of a Zelda game.
The next dungeon was much more focused on combat, which was, unfortunately, a mixed bag.
Melee fights are quite a chore, with timed hits and no block or parry system to stop incoming enemy attacks.
The only thing you can do to protect yourself is dodge, which is a skill tree ability with a cooldown timer.
Finally, while I don’t mind having to time my hits, being unable to effectively block attacks or smash the attack button to interrupt them did annoy me a fair bit.
Thankfully, ranged combat doesn’t suffer from the same issues. Using the bow and arrow is very satisfying and requires a fair bit of precision when aiming.
The one magic attack I got to use in the preview build was also effective at draining opponents’ health bars at a distance, all the while staying on the move.
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Final boss fight
Although melee combat against groups of mobs disappointed me, it was much more tolerable during the boss fight at the end of the demo’s final dungeon.
When focused on one enemy whose attacks you can learn during a rather lengthy fight, the issues with hit timing and lack of parry mechanics weren’t as bothersome.
The battle gave me hope that unlockable magic abilities and defense-boosting power-up items are going to resolve some of the combat problems Testament: The Order of High Human is struggling with. It was a really enjoyable sequence that left me wanting more.
Not all hope is lost for Tessara
After playing through the demo, I am cautiously optimistic about Testament: The Order of High Human. It has the potential to be a truly unique first-person RPG title, even with the combat issues.
The well-designed levels and satisfying ranged combat make up for the melee flaws. Testament’s progression system and skill tree show potential for developing a wide range of playstyles, and I can’t wait to explore it in the full version of the game.
Testament: The Order of High Human releases for PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, and Xbox One on July 13, 2023.