Everyone (I hope) knows what happened to the Aztec Empire. In just a few short years, a once-great civilization was wiped out – the result of Spaniards and smallpox. But what if that never happened? That’s the timeline that Aztech Forgotten Gods is offering up. One where the Aztec Empire is a magnificent civilization. One where Tenochtitlan is a city brimming with life and culture; a world hub of science and knowledge.
We follow Achtli, a young delivery girl. After uncovering some mythical ancient technology – namely a powerful mechanical fist called Lightkeeper – she finds herself embroiled in a battle against the monstrous Forgotten Gods who have awoken from a centuries-long slumber and are now intent on laying waste to everything she holds dear.
The story goes much deeper than simply defeating city-destroying monsters and saving the day though. Behind the boss battles, you’ll find a story that deals with some pretty heavy themes. Doubt, guilt and loss are all major driving factors, and you’ll follow Achtli as she seeks to overcome these as well.
The result of this strange mix of monsters and melancholy is two-fold. We get a main character that is remarkably well-rounded, and a story that is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
It’s unfortunate then, that the only major drawback is such a significant one – Aztech has no voice talent. It robs the story of a lot of its emotional weight and I feel that a game dealing with grief, loss and acceptance deserves actual voice acting to do it proper justice.
Aztech’s gameplay relies solely on the Lightkeeper. It’s like a Stone-Age Swiss Army Knife. Use it to fly, smash through walls and deal maximum pain to the Forgotten Gods. Upgrade it in the Central Workshop to shield yourself, fire powerful slicing shots and increase your movement speed.
You’ll be able to combine these abilities together as well to have full control over Achtli, both on foot and in the air. Of course, these moves cost energy, so you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your reserves. You don’t want to run out, especially when facing down a boss.
Just like the story, the boss battles themselves are executed really well. Each of the Forgotten Gods is unique and offers a distinct challenge. You’ll need to use Lightkeeper to its full potential, especially as you’ll be flying for the most part. The battles also do well to incorporate the new abilities given to you. The Slicing Shot is one of the lesser-used mechanics in the game, but it plays a central role in one boss fight. It highlights this emphasis on ensuring that every mechanic is important and has use throughout the game.
Whilst the gameplay is smooth for the most part, there are some elements that cause major annoyance. Boost portals are a particular cause for concern. As these are relatively small, it’s almost inevitable you’ll touch the side of one whilst flying through it. This often sees Achtli sent hurtling off in a random direction. It’s especially annoying during boss fights – which rely heavily on these portals – as you’ll be dodging all kinds of projectiles and enemies and one wrong move could result in death.
Aztech also suffers from a relative lack of depth, gameplay-wise. The map is big, but the city doesn’t actually feel alive. There may be plenty of cars flying around overhead, but the few NPCs you can actually talk to only offer up only the most basic of conversations.
There aren’t any random buildings for you to enter and explore, nor are there any real-side missions to uncover either. In fact, outside of the main story, the only other pieces of content are a few stand-alone race and fight challenges and a few collectibles that expand on the lore of the Aztech world. It’s hardly enough to encourage you to deviate from the main story. If anything, these challenges only exist to ensure you have enough credits to upgrade Lightkeeper.
There are a few minor issues with clipping too. I didn’t manage to fall through the world, but I did manage to warp into a few walls. It’s also really noticeable in cutscenes. Lightkeeper’s massive model is prone to clipping, as is Achtli’s hair.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is not a perfect game. There’s a lack of entertaining side-content. There’s no voice talent. It’s relatively short, with a completion under two hours being possible. But does that mean you should avoid it? No. Because it largely delivers with its story and its core gameplay – the two most important elements of any good video game.
With Aztech, you’ll find a brilliant story backed by brilliant boss fights. You’ll also find a brilliant tool in the Lightkeeper, which is a joy to use no matter what you’re using it for, whether that be smashing minions into oblivion or simply flying around Tenochtitlan. Whilst it carries a rather steep price tag at £24.99, I’d recommend giving Aztech Forgotten Gods a look.
Aztech: Forgotten Gods is available from the Xbox Store