Testament: The Order of High-Human is a first-person action-adventure game developed by Fairyship Games and launched on July 13, 2023, on PC. The game has a great mix of first-person action combat, some RPG elements in loot and character talent development, and a large puzzle solving element. I found the story engaging enough to keep driving me forward and while it can be janky at times and a little repetitive, I still enjoyed my time in the game a lot.
The world of Tessara is a dark and foreboding place. After the betrayal of your brother Arva, madness has descended upon the realm. Playing as the immortal king of High Humans, you must slowly regain your powers as you face deranged followers of a mad dictator, fighting against worshippers of a blood god and dangers to come, eventually confronting Arva head-on. The voice acting of characters is decent enough, if anything lacking a bit of emotion in parts, but enough to again carry each character within the grand story.
We initially explore beyond the starting fort, learning to sprint, crouch and vault over obstacles in search of a weapon. The moody atmosphere really helped to set the tone of the game and while the explorable areas were linear, I enjoyed exploring through the forest and forts with mist and rain/thunderstorms around me. The sound design was also very good from what I played, and the voice acting was excellent. The experience reminded me of playing The Last Oricru.
Coming across a downed foe, we grab a basic sword and learn how to swing with timing to take down simple enemies. We can also crouch and sneak up to enemies, performing a killing blow behind them. Starting with a one-handed sword, we later come across a bow that can have four different arrow types to utilise (normal, ricochet, explosive and passthrough) and once we get to some puzzle areas, we unlock magic spells that can buff or heal ourselves as well as range of offensive spells.
You can slot two spells at once and cycle between those two or run away mid-fight and quickly change a spell if you need to do more damage or more healing. You slowly find more powerful weapons and items to augment those weapons which makes progression and exploration more engaging. This is beneficial as fighting the same monster variations for the first couple of hours got repetitive despite the differing landscapes. Ranged monsters were a particular pain point, especially if you were low on arrows or out of spirit energy.
After some combat scenarios and a run-in with our brother Arva, we come across a section that involves platforming and puzzle-solving mechanics. Puzzles are in the form of light puzzles where you need to manipulate mirrors on a board to bend the light towards a gem. There are also other orb structures that once activated, will raise, lower, or move platforms that you need to jump to and from. These platform areas slowly increased in complexity and were fun to work out and solve, enabling us to find a better weapon and unlock spells to use in combat. Some later puzzle areas felt like they dragged a bit long, but they were a good change of pace from the combat sequences.
Our character can specialise in one or all three combat disciplines in the detailed skill point talent tree. The world of Tessara has many elemental forms of power from lifeforce and light, to fire, gravity and void elements which correspond to elemental spells. Some spells are buffs and shields while others will burn or push back enemies. Enemies will also have weaknesses or resistances against them so you will need to utilise tactics along the way.
Swinging with our sword isn’t just about hacking and slashing, hoping for the best. If you time your swings right, not only will you perform combos, but you can also interrupt an enemy’s oncoming attack. Some attacks cannot be interrupted, so a quick dodge with the alt key will get you out of harms way. If you see a red flash from the enemy, that is them using their special attack and if you are hit by this, you will be interrupted yourself. While there isn’t a visual stamina bar, it feels like you do suffer stamina loss with your swings and dodges.
Enemy strength is indicated by a coloured icon above their heads, with green being your level and purple being far too difficult. I took on a purple enemy and got smashed to death in one hit. When you die you will respawn at the last checkpoint. There are no visual checkpoint locations but there are some fast travel stones around. Downed enemies will sometimes drop loot in the form of green life essence crystals that will heal you, blue spirit force crystals that replenish mana or shards of creation which are used to craft items in the consumables wheel.
Pressing caps locks allows us to see interactable items glowing in the white around the area but more importantly shows us each enemy type’s weak points. Shooting in these locations with an arrow will be an instant kill or do much higher damage against stronger enemies. In the case of the ranged halflings, their weak point is their belly but often their arms or head get in the way, especially if you’re below or above them. There were also times where I would shoot them with two arrows which would ordinarily kill them, but sometimes it would leave them with 1 health left which was enough for them to throw one more projectile at me and kill me if I was out of life essences.
One aspect I enjoyed was the eclipse/darkness system which involve taking out specific monsters in order to escape a blocked off area or where you would see purple locks on doors and items. These are magic locks effectively and they are guarded by night bringers. These are large eyes, like eye of the beholders, and they are guarded by three lesser ones called leech eyes that are hidden in the area. When you are in the vicinity of a night bringer, your life and spirit essences are slowly drained. You can only see the smaller leech eyes by activating caps lock and looking around for them. You can only kill them using a bow called Solaris, which is in the area you first come across the darkness. Once the three leech eyes are killed, you can take out the night bringer and it will dissipate the locks, unlocking access to new areas, fast travel points and chests to loot.
This brings me to boss fights which were challenging, often frustrating, but once you learned how each boss type attacks, or summons supporting enemies at intervals, they became easier to vanquish. It also depended on whether you had full life and spirit essences or not. You can usually find boxes to smash for arrows and essences during the boss fight, but never enough of them to fully rely on them. I was thankful that the dodge/stamina timer was short. Not short enough to be ez-mode but enough that I knew when to dodge and when to run off to get a different angle on the boss.
Overall, Testament: The Order of High-Human is an enjoyable first-person action game that has a great mix of combat, puzzle solving and platforming sections. The environment visuals and sounds were impressive, and while the voice acting lacked emotion in parts, the main story quests were engaging. If you can handle a bit of jank and repetition here and there, you should enjoy this first-person action adventure.