Waking inside a cabin, Aran was found by a bark-skinned guardian shaped like a towering man within the dim forest. Aran had fallen from the gunmetal clouds, robbed of his powers and status as king of High Humans — now a mortal among lurking creatures.
I assumed the guardian would be a guide through the dangers ahead, but a survey of its home exposed bloodied guts and chopped critters on tabletops littered with tools. It was a mad butcher, and Aran was its next victim.
Out the gate, Testament: The Order of High Human begins establishing a core theme of its gameplay experience: Aran will encounter many fiendish monsters during his journey with what equipment and powers are available to him.
It has the humble beginnings of an old-school RPG, with the protagonist’s weakness tied profoundly to how challenges and enemy encounters get resolved.
I sensed much of that aesthetic while playing the early hours of Testament in a preview build provided by developer Fairyship Games, alongside glimpses of Skyrim and even Prince of Persia. Here are our first impressions.
‘Testament’ is a ‘Skyrim’-like action-adventure game with the heart of an old-school RPG set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world.
Aran once protected the realm of Tessara from above, but his brother Arva betrayed him. The world plunged into darkness and became infested with creatures of all shapes and sizes as Aran lost his powers.
The predicament sets up Arva as your primary opposition, who even appeared during my preview to discuss the failings of their sacred teachings. Both had conflicting arguments over what should and shouldn’t be allowed, but no one seemed outright wrong — just headstrong in their beliefs.
The selling point of Testament is its gameplay; however, its narrative ripples may swing players into investing in the brotherly dynamic and how that develops.
Inside deep woodlands are goblin-like monsters and other creatures patrolling lush green paths. Testament touts it’s a challenging RPG that will push you to figure out a playstyle and reward those who master its combat, which immediately rears its head in my first few scuffles.
Combo attacking an enemy with a sword required rhythmic timing — some slices stunning enemies mid-attack. I had a single rechargeable dodge that forced me to time its uses and dip back and forth into enemy striking distance.
Sneaking to take out foes before alerting a whole group also had its merits, easing up the odds you’d face all at once. Everything mentioned here is entirely player-driven, and you feel that near-Metroidvania weight of choice once stepping into an arena of opponents.
Mix up your combat prowess and overcome platforming puzzle challenges.
Understandably, you start with very limited tools as Aran but gradually grow into your own unique fighting style with newer equipment, skills, and powers.
With each level up, you can spend Perk points on a skill tree to obtain combo attacks or passive stats that increase Aran’s defensive capabilities. Every new blip on the tree offers some measure of difference to how you play.
Later, players acquire a bow and arrow to pick off enemies afar before swapping to the sword. A spell to absorb damage provides room to be risky and dish out damage.
Cycling through your arsenal and abilities can lead to critical combinations to even the odds against swarms of foes, but the core challenge is that pulling them off is no easy thing.
Testament forces you to remember your combo attacks, what magic powers can do, and the map layout — all culminating in a robust skill-based combat system.
Between the zones of monsters are chambers housing magical powers that you must explore to make Aran stronger. Here, platforming and puzzle-solving replace combat, sending you wall-running Prince of Persia style and activating floating mechanics to push forward.
The switch in gameplay is jolting at first, but Testament dangles the reward of new powers for sticking through it. Players won’t be harshly challenged in these segments. Instead, there are several decent movement and alignment puzzles with enough differences to keep you involved.
If future levels of Testament follow the same mechanics, it could get old fast and feel lacking in experimentation, but it’s still a solid method of rewarding players between biomes.
Testament may look similar to Skyrim but forgoes the sprawling environments and in-depth side quests for a more niche experience focused on combat and puzzle-solving.
Battles let you flaunt your technical mastery, and the skill tree empowers that playstyle. Hopefully, Fairyship Games has more diverse skills to offer players and challenging enemy mechanics later to test those combinations.