Release Date: March 10th, 2022
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Gamers were introduced to a brilliant trailer for Aztech Forgotten Gods at the Indie World Showcase back in April 2021. It stole my breath away, and I knew this was a game I wanted to play, so I eagerly awaited for this stylish and colorful “cyber-stone” 3D action adventure title. After rolling credits, I can easily say that Aztech Forgotten Gods’ strengths lie in the delivery of a strong protagonist, mesmerizing story beats, and wonderful nods to Aztec mythology.
This third-person title features Achtli, a spunky, young woman living in a technologically advanced city born from Aztec civilization. She lives with her mother, Nantsin, who works for the Institute in town.
At the start of the game, Nantsin receives a phone call from her boss, Cahuani, who intends to cancel her current project–one she had hoped could solve the world’s energy crisis. Achtli displays her fierce protection over her mother, and the two head to the dig site once last time before the project shuts down. Achtli dons a prosthetic arm, later dubbed The Lightkeeper, and absorbs the energy from a mysterious core. As a result, mysterious and terrible things begin to happen around the city…
Nantsin is trapped at the dig site and six colossal giants emerge from massive earthquakes. Achtli partners with the voice of a god within her head to save her mother and defeat these beasts–all of which are heavily inspired from ancient deities of the Mesoamerican era. Throughout this journey, Achtli not only faces external challenges but internal ones as well. Guilt and self-doubt plague her ever since the death of her father, and this plays a role in her journey throughout Aztech Forgotten Gods.
Visual/Audio: There is no doubt in my mind that the developers at Lienzo poured their love and care into the primary characters and bosses, also known as the Forgotten gods. Achtli is a stunning character with an expressive face, and her close family and friends like her mother and best friend, Tepo, were well designed. The Mesoamerican influence is evident in their character designs, which provided a brilliant flare. However, the rest of the graphics caught me off guard as the NPCs that meander around the city and the environment such as the trees and buildings were significantly less detailed to the point where it almost felt like it came from a completely different game. The city did feel empty, and given how I loved the concept of the game so much, I was really hoping for more interactivity there.
The music also was a bit unexpected, although it was welcomed. Most of the music that played was hard rock. It was great to jam to the heart-pounding rhythm–it just took getting used to in the beginning.
Gameplay: Lienzo provides gamers with a breath-taking sense mobility and verticality with Aztech Forgotten Gods. You utilize the amazing power of The Lightkeeper to traverse across the city. You can blast-off high into the sky, zooming around the different areas with incredible speed. Flying around was incredibly fun and perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Even Achtli’s jumps and double jumps have this “floaty” feeling, satisfying this sensation of weightlessness.
Next to traveling, most of the game play involves battling enemies. Aztech Forgotten Gods reminds me a little bit of Shadow of the Colossus in that the primary goal of this game is to travel to various areas to take down massive giants. You battle six (well, technically seven) Forgotten gods, each with a unique identity in a linear format. You utilize The Lightkeeper to battle, occasionally upgrading it to add more features and power. You can punch, downward punch, perform a charged punch, and release a slicing shot. There is a nice mixture of tactics and button-mashing for each boss battle. For example, some need to be cut down while others need its energy used against it.
The bosses are a highlight of the game for me, and each one has a unique design. There is even one boss where you don’t fight it in the traditional sense, but instead, you must navigate your way through its mind games–and he loves to play against your fear of tiny places! That boss, Mictlantecuhtli, holds the actual name of the Aztech god of the dead. These cultural references really provided depth to this game.
The largest challenge surrounding those battles were the camera angles. While you can control the direction of the angles, they do readjust at times to where it places you at a visual disadvantage. I lost a few battles with bosses because I was flying furiously around them, got knocked around, then the camera angle suddenly swerved to the point I couldn’t even see Achtli. It became disorienting, and it took time for me to get my bearings back together.
Once each battle was completed, there was definitely a “rinse and repeat” feeling: you deposit the energy you absorb from each god, learn something from Tepo, get an upgrade, then move onto the next boss. It’s a recognizable formula for sure, but it did not detract from my overall experience.
Other Thoughts: Aztech Forgotten Gods, while simple in set up, does have some things to do in the city. There are three shops: one to upgrade The Lightkeeper, one to change your hairstyle, and one to change your outfit. The options are limited, but they are there. You spend what appears to be “gears” as currency for these upgrades that you earn from defeating smaller enemies that float around the city. You can also seek out memories on stone tablets and take on battle and race challenges.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is an admirable indie game that I commend for its incorporation of Mesoamerican culture. Although the beginning crawled at a slow pace, it picks up after the first massive giant fight–so hang in there. Acthli’s story arc was a pleasure to follow along–she is a flawed protagonist with a painful past. She isn’t perfect, and I could relate to her struggles, which makes for an engaging story. There were also some twists at the end that ramped up the final showdown and made every hour leading up to the game worth it.
Although there were some challenges with the linear and somewhat repetitive progression and disappointing graphics beyond the main characters and bosses, Aztech Forgotten Gods was an enjoyable indie game with lots of heart that’s worth giving a shot. It ran me about six to seven hours of game play, so it is not terribly long.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is available March 10th on all consoles and PC at $29.99 USD.
I want to thank Lienzo for providing a review copy of Aztech Forgotten Gods. I sincerely look forward to more of your games.