Ever wanted to be a hero, wielding blade and spell alike, using your powers to conquer evil and save the day? Yeah, me either. Heroes don’t have a lot of time for the good things in life, like Uber Eats and Netflix. I’ll leave the world-saving to someone else and resume my Walking Dead binge sessions instead. If I’m ever interested in high-magic heroism, I’ve got video games like Testament: The Order of High Human to keep me going instead.
In the fantasy world of Tessara, a group called the High Humans act as benevolent gods, watching over the land and keeping things in line. Well, it did, but then the head High Human, Aran, was betrayed by his brother and cast down. As Aran, you’ll wander the land, searching for a way to restore your power so you can seek revenge.
Testament’s closest relative is definitely Heroes of Might and Magic, a classic first-person RPG that was allegedly about swords and sorcery but was actually about kicking people off cliffs and into spikes. Testament goes a more traditional route with the concept; there’s the usual immersive sim trappings here, meaning you’re typically presented with a setpiece full of hazards and given the chance to figure out how to deal with them yourself based on the tools at your disposal. Those tools, in this case, include melee combat, archery and spellcasting.
Melee combat’s simple enough – smack baddies around with cutlery, parry their attacks when they try to do the same back to you. It’s also a little strange, to say the least. Unlike, say, a Souls-style game where there’s a hidden stagger bar that fills up before you can knock an enemy out of an attack, Testament just straight-up tells you that certain parts of your combo will always stagger.
This turns battles into a hokey-pokey dance where you step in to land that stagger, step out to avoid the incoming counter attack, then shake it all about and repeat until your foes are dead. It also means that later abilities that enhance the end of your combos aren’t particularly useful since your best attacks are the ones you start with that stagger. There’s a definite lack of impact on your sword slashes as well, and while that’s unfortunate, it’s also not exactly uncommon in this style of RPG.
Archery and magic, meanwhile, are a little more traditional. Line up a shot, pull the trigger, let fly with spells or arrows and continue until satisfied. These are both clearly intended to supplement melee combat rather than replacing it, given the relative scarcity of ammo. There’s also a stealth mechanic, allowing you to creep around and backstab baddies for bonus damage. It’s a great way to minimize the amount of resource-draining melee you’ll have to do.
This amounts to the majority of what you’ll do in Testament. Complicating factors start to show up later, like an irritating drain mechanic that requires you to seek out hidden enemies before you can start a fight in earnest. Beyond battle, extracurricular activities are a mixed bag; there’s first-person platforming, for instance, because everyone loves that, but at least there’s some interesting puzzle-solving here and there.
There’s also some light inventory management, crafting in the form of conjuring more consumables, a basic skill tree to interact with and so on. None of this is offensive on the same level as something like, say, the notoriously crappy Arc of Alchemist, but it’s also not particularly inspiring either.
Testament’s presentation fares a bit better, at least. It’s a surprisingly decent-looking and atmospheric game, with some nice environment design to check out. There’s also plenty of voice acting, which ranges from “not the worst” to “I am laughing each time this character speaks.” If the latter were a side character with few lines that’d be one thing, but no, we’re talking about protagonist Aran here, so be prepared for that. I may have laughed a little too hard when Aran went on at length about the “light attribute” of a sword he found.
There’s definitely more than a few bugs here and there as well, and you’ll rapidly come to dread those platforming segments because you just might fall into a pit and fail to die, forcing a manual reload. Some patches might be in order.
Testament: The Order of High Human isn’t a fantastic game by any means, but as a freshman effort from Fairyship Games it’s passable. At the very least, the hilarious voice acting makes the experience a little more memorable than it might have otherwise been. I don’t know if I can recommend rushing out to pick this one up at full price, but chances are you’ll see Testament in a bundle sooner or later, and when that happens it’s worth a look just for the novelty value.