You might remember Mexican developer Lienzo for the well-received action adventure Mulaka that was released back in 2018. They’re back now with Aztech Forgotten Gods, which is out now for PC, Xbox, PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch. Here’s our review, based on the PlayStation 4/5 version.
What instantly drew us to Aztech Forgotten Gods is that it draws inspiration from a part of history and culture that we don’t often see in videogames – the Aztec empire. In an alternate take on history, they’ve grown and flourished into the present day and far beyond, presenting us with a unique blend. On the one hand you have of a history that was dominated by mythology and gods, but then there’s a futuristic version of this empire where technology has started to play a large role.
These worlds collide when we meet protagonist Achtli, who researches the past with her mother and comes across a giant stone arm called the Lightkeeper – a weapon that has the power to take down gods and bestows you with a range of special powers. Obviously quite a few of these are combat-specific as Achtli’s giant stone/mechanical hand looks quite imposing, but it also gives you traversal options, letting you zip/teleport across the battlefield. But while this is fun, we were also surprised to see that some of the rough edges from a demo we played ages ago were still here, with Achtli sometimes clipping through parts of the environment.
Combat has its rough edges as well, because what could have felt like something a bit like Devil May Cry (or any other game that features fluid combat mechanics) ends up feeling mostly like a button masher. There’s a system here that lets you finish off enemies by attacking them and then hitting the attack button thrice in a QTE-type of fashion, but although this results in spectacular finishing moves it also feels like you’re not directly in control of the action for a bit Quick Time Events haven’t gotten any more thrilling over the past decade either.
Boss fights fare better by comparison, as bosses all have their own unique designs and attack patterns, making for some nice and diverse fights. They’ve also been inspired by Aztec history and mythology in their designs, which makes them stand out in a positive way amidst a game world that is otherwise relatively barren. We appreciate that the developer isn’t trying to follow Ubisoft’s template of cramming the world full of side quests, but Aztech feels like it’s at the other end of the spectrum. For something that taps into such a rich part of history, the empty game world stands out.
With a bit more polish to the combat mechanics and a richer game world, Aztech Forgotten Gods could have been a standout indie title. As it is, it feels like a game that has potential but doesn’t quite live up to it.