What if Tenochtitlán, the island city at the heart of the Aztec Empire, had never been sacked by European conquerors? In the alternate timeline of Aztech Forgotten Gods, we see what it might have looked like: a thriving, technologically advanced metropolis that blends Mesoamerican-inspired design with Tron-like aesthetics. Described by Mexican developer Lienzo as a “cyber rock action-adventure”, Aztech’s memorable setting can be fun to explore, that is, when the wobbly camera and frustrating boss fights don’t get in the way.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is a fairly linear eight-hour adventure about Achtli, a young woman so haunted by her past that she can’t move on in life. After discovering an ancient artifact – a giant stone arm that replaces his prosthesis – that allows him to soar above the city streets, Achtli comes face to face with a number of newly awakened Old Gods who threaten to destroy Tenochtitlán. and all its inhabitants. . The story works well enough but Achtli is underserved by the fact that the dialogue is text-only and often accompanied by repeated animations that show characters moving their lips and bodies in the same way over and over. Despite everything, I fell in love with the provocative Achtli, her best friend Tepo, and her supporting mother Nantsin, thanks to their lively writing and pleasant story.
Flying from one end of the city to the other felt amazing once I got used to it. Launching Achtli into the air, hovering in all directions, and using speed boosts from strategically placed floating rings feels natural and fluid (although it’s a bit odd that there are so many when Achtli is the only person who can fly). You’ll spend most of your time in the air, although a depleting energy bar sometimes forces you to think about when and where you land, especially when trying to take down a stone giant unleashed. Few games have made flight so intuitive, and this system sets Aztech apart from other action-adventure games that largely take place on solid ground.
That said, despite being large and full of structures, the city often feels empty – barely the bustling metropolis and global superpower it is meant to be. There aren’t many inhabitants and the NPCs walking around don’t have much to say. There are a few off-the-beaten-path locations where you can engage in combat or racing challenges or find missing keepsakes to find, at least.
Unfortunately, Aztech’s combat isn’t as enjoyable as exploring it. For the most part, fighting both the smaller enemies that pop up in Tenochtitlán and the oversized stone gods is an exercise in button mashing. Achtli has a few special moves – a power-up super punch, firing energy-based projectiles, a downward strike – but it’s rarely worth using that whole skill set as it requires placement and a precise timing in boss battles that are largely chaotic. Instead, it was much more effective to spam basic attacks unless instructed otherwise and fly away to recover when Achtli’s health bar got too low.
Speaking of those boss fights, this is where you’ll do most of the fighting, and they can feel more like a chore than a challenge. These huge masses of stone and mythology usually require multiple stages to defeat, but the objectives of each stage are often blurry and the bosses don’t visibly react to your attacks. There were times when I couldn’t tell if I was doing any damage outside of looking at the health bar at the top of the screen, and all I felt after each giant battle was a sense of relief that it was finished, no satisfaction.
Screenshots of the Aztech Forgotten Gods review
Still, the toughest enemy you’ll face in Aztech isn’t one of the titular Forgotten Gods – it’s the camera. Although you technically control his movements, sometimes you feel like he has a mind of his own, especially when you get knocked down. Rogue camera angles can completely remove Achtli from view, which isn’t an ideal way to play a third-person action game. The camera can also change angles depending on where it lands, spoiling the fluidity of the otherwise delightful mobility. This is a big reason why boss fights can be frustrating; it’s no fun taking the time to set up an attack, only to have it countered when the camera seemingly changes randomly.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is certainly not a display of high-end graphics technology, but what it lacks in polish – like the frequent cutting issues we see in Achtli’s hair and clothing – it makes up for in style. . Mesoamerican inspiration shines through in customizable outfits and hairstyles, character designs, and the sprawling city itself. The small but memorable cast of characters would certainly stand out in a crowd, and the dialogue sprinkles in bits of Nahuatl language that help bring this futuristic take on Tenochtitlán to life. I feel like this take on an alternate-history Aztec empire was crafted with care and consideration, which helped me a lot to skip the more frustrating parts.