Considering its instantly recognisable iconography, the Mesoamerican Aztec culture is one that has rarely featured in video games. We’ve seen games like Aztec: Empire, sure, but there are a lot more examples tied to periods like the Second World War, the American Revolution, and Ancient Rome, to name but a few. Developer Liezo clearly thought the Aztec culture could do with a bit more love, chucking the period’s architecture and general aesthetic right into the future with Aztech Forgotten Gods. It’s a game that, unfortunately, stumbles out the gate with poor, shallow gameplay, messy visuals, and one of the most frustratingly chaotic camera systems we’ve seen in a while.
The story of Aztech Forgotten Gods takes place in a futuristic city filled with typical Aztec architecture (albeit more shiny), where protagonist Achtli is called upon to take on a group of stone colossi known as the ‘Forgotten Gods’ that have been inadvertently awakened, intent on wreaking havoc. Thankfully, Achtli comes into possession of a powerful stone artifact that fuses itself onto her arm, creating a magical gauntlet that would make the likes of Ron Perlman green with envy. The structure of the game is a loose take on Shadow of the Colossus, with Achtli’s primary goal to travel to specific areas of the map and vanquish the Forgotten Gods one by one.
Unlike Shadow of the Colossus, however, Aztech: Forgotten Gods features a small cast of characters that assist Achtli in her quest. Chiefly, her mother Nantsin crops up frequently during the game’s story, providing context (and often heaps of exposition) to the peril that engulfs the city. We would’ve liked the game to feature full voice acting, but instead each character is completely silent save for a short grunt or coo that precedes each line of dialogue. Regardless, it’s nice to at least have a few faces to chat with, even if the frequency of their appearances gets a bit frustrating.
The city itself is surprisingly vast with a decent bit of visual variety, including dense urban settlements, rural landscapes, and even a volcanic mountain. The problem, however, is that despite the clear effort that’s gone into making the city aesthetically appealing, this is an environment that is all style and no substance. There are very few NPCs roaming the land and chances are you won’t run into a single one as you move from one area to the next, so the city feels completely lifeless as a result. Even clusters of enemies are clearly marked out on the map, so there’s never an opportunity to stumble into an encounter on the fly. It makes for an experience that feels pretty stale on the whole, a problem exacerbated when the game makes you fly from one end of the map to the other on multiple occasions.
As for the combat itself, you’ll find yourself pitted against two main types of enemies: standard foes that float around in groups, and of course the larger-than-life Forgotten Gods. Utilising the stone gauntlet, you can unleash basic attacks and link them into combos, with a handy button prompt appearing at the opportune time for you to continue your attack. Holding down ‘ZR’ lets you charge up a more powerful blow, which is perfect for the boss battles and for knocking down large obstacles.
Unfortunately, the combat fails to engage in any meaningful way. Mashing the attack button for smaller enemies becomes tiresome after a while, and from our experience, keeping in time with the on-screen button prompts didn’t appear to make a great deal of difference. Fighting against the Forgotten Gods is a touch more interesting, as you’ll need to examine their structure along with the environment around you to exploit their weaknesses. Once you’ve done so, however, it’s simply a case of going right back to button mashing to slowly chip away at their health.
All of this is made worse by a camera system that simply refuses to behave; whether you’re locking onto an enemy or using the free-cam, the view will often be obscured by objects or platforms within the environment. On some occasions, even the Forgotten Gods themselves will get in the way of the action, making for a battle that quickly descends into chaos — and not in a good way. Ironically, in what we suspect was an effort to make the game more accessible, Achtli will automatically zip across to an enemy’s location if you press the attack button within a certain radius; in doing so, however, the camera just can’t keep up with the action, and the entire spectacle quickly becomes a confusing mess.
Outside of combat, you’ve got a few extra bits and bobs to keep you busy. Within the centre of the city, there are three shops that you can visit at any point. The most important one lets you upgrade your abilities upon collecting experience points, such as running speed, HP boosts, attack power, and more. The game handily makes visiting this shop a mandatory part of the story at various points, which is good if its existence happens to slips your mind. Otherwise, the other two shops are purely for changing up Achtli’s appearance, one being a hair salon and the other a clothing store. There aren’t a great deal of options available here, and it won’t take long until you’ve gained enough currency to buy out the entire store line-up, but the few items on offer are at least much better than Achtli’s ridiculous default getup.
With the visuals, we mentioned that the game is artistically pleasing, and we stick by this, but in terms of fidelity and detail, it falls way short of what players might expect in 2022. First of all, we highly recommend playing this game in docked mode if you can; the resolution boost here makes the visuals at least tolerable and things can actually look pretty nice on occasion. In handheld mode, however, the downgrade in visual quality is steep. Even slower gameplay moments look pretty ugly, but when you get into the fast-paced combat sections, it’s an absolute mess; we had a real difficult time making out what was going on half the time. On the flip side, pausing the game lets you access ‘Photo Mode’, which is surprisingly well-implemented and really highlights the strong artistic direction of the game.
Aztech Forgotten Gods had a lot of potential that is unfortunately wasted. On the plus side, the game is artistically pleasing, with well-designed enemies and a city that at least provides a nice bit of visual variety. In terms of gameplay, however, the whole thing is a bit of a mess, with poor combat mechanics and a daft camera causing way too much hassle than it’s worth. Minor distractions in the form of cosmetic customisation proves a nice little touch, but sadly Aztech: Forgotten Gods’ core gameplay is simply far below par, making this an action game you'll probably want to sit out.
Oh no. This is distressing.
As a Mexican-American woman, I was really really looking forward to this game because it meant a lot to me.
I am going to be on the lookout for other reviews from other places for this game, but I'm having to temper my expectations. And doing so for a game so meaningful to me really hurts.
Looks like NL (it’s score at least) is the outlier once again… with the early reviews that is
Dang I was excited for this. Hopefully they can patch up things like the camera and combat.
Bloody hell that’s a harsh review. Was intrigued by this as well.
Well shoot. I was looking forward to this game. Haven’t played anything with a similar aesthetic since Grim Fandango, that I can remember.
@CharlieGirl As a Mexican man, this doesn't mean anything to me at all.
These games get so much press in Mexico because there are not many Mexican-based (from people or companies that actually still live in Mexico) developers out there, so things like these get shown a lot whenever they exist.
A bad game is a bad game, no matter if it's from someone in your home country. Let's admire the games by what they are, not because of who developed them.
@Olmectron Okay, cool.
@twicesmt Is it though? I'm seeing a lot of scores in the 4/5/6 range. And all of the complaints in the reviews I've actually read through have been pretty much the same.
Unfortunate as I was looking forward to this but it seems like more time in the oven would've been wise.
This is why I don't let beautiful indie trailers get my hopes up too high.
For $30, there's much better actions game out there. I say this game needs more time in the oven. Cook it for a few more months and dropped the price by 50% then maybe it'll be worth it.
@CharlieGirl as a Caribbean man , I couldn't care less.
A bad game is a bad game. Water is wet.
@CharlieGirl your disappointment is completely natural. This really sucks. Hopefully they take the feedback and put out some DLC or patches.
@CharlieGirl the most annoying type of internet commentary is "actually you're wrong to care about your heritage" especially when that message comes from other POC.
I will still give this a go as I like the concept behind it. I do hope the devs will work on patches though.
@RBRTMNZ Oh, you're absolutely preaching to the choir. I simply stopped engaging with such commentary.
It all started when they decided to describe this game as Latinx-futurism.
Bien dicho, well said.
The Background of Persons should never be the Focus.
Have been crossing my fingers for months hoping the Switch version wasn't a mess. I guess I should have trusted my instinct.
@RBRTMNZ The developers are more from the USA than from Mexico (they are located not that far from the USA-Mexico border). And even all their social network posts are posted in English, including their Twitter bio description. It seems they are not targeting their own country as potential buyers. I looked for alternate accounts in Spanish (like most companies do), but nope.
Do you want some good content based on pre-Mexican civilizations? Watch "Maya and The Three" by Jorge R. Gutiérrez.
I'm sorry, this game is just bad. I don't care who developed it.
Removed - inappropriate
@CharlieGirl I have seen a couple more reviews, and the general opinion is the same. Hopefully, as somebody said, a couple of updates here and there and it'll be much better, just like it happened with Dead Cells. And let's be honest, the idea of fighting huge Aztec gods is awesome!
What a shame. Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favourite games of all time and the thought of another game like it with Mayan architecture was really appealing to me.
@nofriendo I have as much rights to write my opinion on this game as anyone else.
The game is bad as several reviews already let people see. I gave my opinion on how I think you shouldn't care about the developer, but about the final product you, as a consumer, buy. That's my OPINION, none needs to care about it.
Coco was great, but Pixar isn't a Mexican based company, and I don't feel offended because of that, and the movie isn't any worse because of that. Just giving an example.
Not surprised or shocked in anyway, I expected this to be the outcome for this game.
Yikes, this was hard to read. I had high hopes for this game... (admittedly though, I might still get this game much, MUCH, later down the line anyways).
@Olmectron I'm not sure where you're going with this, but being based near the border does not make Lienzo or its employees any less Mexican. Also, the only information I can find about where they are based is "Chihuahua, Mexico" - not sure if they are referring to the city or just the state, if you could share any more specifics of where they are based, please do share a link.
"And even all their social network posts are posted in English, including their Twitter bio description. It seems they are not targeting their own country as potential buyers."
Well I don't think they can't be faulted for that. The US video game market is a significantly bigger than that of Mexico, so I think it makes sense they would try to target them more. I have seem them make a few post in Spanish every now and them though.
well thats disappointing
@AlternateRT I'm saying that because they are next to the border and post in English.
But that defeats my point. Had the game been good, the game was good and I wouldn't care they speak English or German or whatever instead of Spanish. I would praise the game.
My OPINION, which everyone can, and probably will, be against, and that's okay, is that people should care about the quality of the product they buy, not about who made (developed in this case) said product.
The thing I said about being more from USA than from here (Mexico) was because of someone else giving them more merit (it seemed like that for me) just because of being a Mexican company.
@CharlieGirl Here's a positive review...
I think if it means that much to you, and 5-10 points. Games are places we go more than anything, so if it's somewhere you really want to visit, who cares if some blogger at NintendoLife got bored with more games in the queue to review for deadlines?
@Olmectron never be afraid of stating your opinion.
Everyone should be free to do so, that's what this comment section is for.
@twicesmt An outlier in that most reviews are either 5/10 or 6/10 with one 7/10... still early doors.
@Olmectron I think both opinions are very valid and don't need to neutralize each other.
I think both your and @CharlieGirl points speak to something true though... that 1) "representation" is very valuable, but 2) ultimately, it cashes out as a personal issue rather than a moral one.
Take the virtue signaling out of the comments and it's just two valid and worthwhile opinions floating around.
It does suck a little more if you're invested like CharlieGirl is, and being Mexican-American I a very good reason to be invested.
It also is not a requirement of having Mexican heritage to be invested.
The energy from @RBRTMNZ and others to make to Olmectron's opinion "invalid" for not conforming to their 'right think' is beyond bizarre, and I personally find quite hateful and alarming, though the comment wears the clothes of tolerance.
Olmectron, you took the bait here, but rather than summoning the white knights of the commentariat, we should be talking about the more interesting conversation around representation, especially what happens when it disappoints.
@Arkay You must be new here.
@Spiders nah, been here for years, I know what you are trying to say because I have seen it countless times here, but my point still stands that one should not be bullied out of voicing their opinion.
City feels lifeless does it? Then it isn't well-designed... seriously these pros and cons of late should be proof-read before publishing, they contradict one another!
@Spiders I agree with your statements. And thanks.
I'll actually give the game a try on PC when it releases tomorrow in Steam. But yeah, not hoping for any good experience base on all reviews I've read so far, on release date. Maybe some future patches could add content and improve combat mechanics.
Removed - discussing moderation; user is banned
@Shiiva The city is absolutely well designed. It feels lifeless because there is a distinct lack of NPCs and things to do. In other words, all style and no substance.
@Spiders only a certain group of people are allowed to voice their opinion here it seems, everyone else gets silenced.
Hey @Spiders , we have our community rules in place to ensure our site is safe, inclusive & respectful for all members.
Please can I kindly remind you that speaking about moderation is against our community guidelines. If you have any feedback, feel free to send it over my way via our contact form below. I am happy to review any feedback & pass it on to the team.
Thanks for your understanding!
@DreamlandGem I don’t understand, but I appreciate you offering an appropriate avenue to express my frustrations with the moderation on this site of late — it’s your house, your rules.
I’d like to point out the irony that, this was from replying to @Arkay ‘s comment that only certain people are allowed to voice their opinions and everyone else gets silenced.
This is the first time I’ve seen the “discussing moderation” removal so I’ll consider this my warning.
A pity, this could have been great. Maybe at a huge discount?
@Olliemar28 I hear you, but for me, what goes into the city is part of the design brief as much as the architecture and layout. I would never turn in an empty, or mostly empty city, and realistically keep my job, I'd be submitting NPC's, merchants, quest lines, secrets, ideas for mini-games (if appropriate) and other things to that effect.
Tap here to load 44 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...