Testament: The Order of High Human can be best described as a combination of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic directed by Tommy Wiseau. It’s an unconventional, slightly unsettling, and unintentionally funny experience that falls short of its intended goals. While it boasts impressive character art and intriguing environments, the gameplay itself leaves much to be desired. The trailers showcase a promising physics-based magic system, but the demo only offers a glimpse of its potential. Overall, there are few aspects worthy of praise here.
As a writer and editor, one of my biggest pet peeves is the evident lack of English language proficiency in the game’s writing. Inconsistencies, even in the styling of the title, are prevalent. The phrase “High Human” is presented in various forms throughout the game, sometimes hyphenated and sometimes not. Furthermore, the capitalization of “Human” in the subtitles is inconsistent as well. The in-game encyclopedia, which serves to introduce players to important world concepts, is riddled with errors in capitalization, punctuation, and basic grammar. The notice at the main menu that acknowledges the game’s small development team of 15 people only highlights the need for an editor.
While I appreciate small games created by passionate indie studios, such as my 300 hours invested in Stardew Valley developed by a single individual, Testament falls short in terms of technical polish. Surprisingly, the game runs smoothly with minimal bugs, even in the challenging platforming sequences that were the most enjoyable part of the demo. However, the overall experience, from the story to the basic combat mechanics, fails to meet expectations. The small team behind the game cannot serve as an excuse for these shortcomings.
Who Am I?
The player assumes the role of Aran, a character who lacks proper introduction until later in the game. Aran awakens after being captured by an evil entity reminiscent of Treebeard. He belongs to the “High Human” class, an awkward and slightly eugenic portrayal of the immortal ruling class with magical abilities in the world of Tessara. Stripped of his powers, Aran is left only with a cheap sword for protection. Explanations for the character’s situation are revealed in later stages of the game, often through monologues where Aran discusses information he already knows but the player does not.
Eventually, it is discovered that Aran’s brother has turned to darkness, possibly due to the death of his wife. He appears through a portal to taunt Aran for his mortal state, delivering a brief villainous speech before vanishing. This narrative progression, however, remains unclear until about an hour into the demo. It feels akin to attempting to piece together a story from a novel missing its first four chapters. Perhaps the final version of the game will offer a more complete introduction, or perhaps this section of the game is not intended as the starting point. Such clarification would greatly improve the overall experience.
Testament’s combo system is deceptive and lacks depth.
Unfortunately, even if the story and localization were better executed, the combat mechanics would remain a significant flaw. The real-time, first-person swordplay, reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls series, primarily revolves around repetitively performing the same combo and dodging telegraphed power attacks. The foes, referred to as “halflings” for unknown reasons, fail to pose a significant challenge. Testament introduces a combo system that, in reality, lacks any distinguishable impact. Whether executing precise swings as instructed in the tutorial or mindlessly spamming the left mouse button, the animations and damage output remain unchanged.
Eye on the Prize
The use of archery provides a more enjoyable experience. Most enemies can be eliminated with a single headshot, rewarding players for their accuracy. Stealth attacks, which can one-shot adversaries and deal significant damage to bosses, are sadly limited in opportunities. The couple of spells available, including a destructible barrier similar to Geralt’s Quen sign in The Witcher and a slow life drain beam, offer moderate enjoyment but require sheathing the sword. This limitation made me yearn for the more flexible combat system found in Skyrim.
In the event that arrows and mana potions are depleted, players are forced to resort to monotonous melee combat. Ranged enemies often exhibit a lack of intelligence, allowing for easy dispatch if approached closely. The enemy AI is generally lackluster, and no blocking or parrying mechanics were observed in the weapons available during the demo.
A skill tree-based progression system is included, which allows players to focus on melee combat, archery, or magic. It is satisfactory, but not particularly noteworthy.
While I don’t wish to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding this genuine passion project created by a small and dedicated team of developers, I am skeptical of Testament: The Order of High Human’s ability to make a significant impact in the realm of first-person action RPGs. Though the jumping and wall-running puzzles showcased potential, it is possible that this demo does not accurately represent the final version of the game. I would be willing to give it another chance, but my expectations remain tempered for High Human.
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Basant Kasayap is an entertainment aficionado who delves into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry. From Hollywood to Bollywood to regional cinema, she offers readers an insider’s perspective on the world of movies, music, and pop culture.