Aztech Forgotten Gods Review for Nintendo Switch

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Aztech Forgotten Gods switch verification

Developer: Lienz | Editor: Lienz | Genre: action | Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Rated on: Nintendo switch


Aztech Forgotten Gods asks a tantalizing question: what if European colonization of the Americas had never happened? What if the Aztec Empire survived into modern times and became a futuristic, technological superpower? When Aztech That being said, the answers to these questions would be far from inspiring.

Developed by Lienzo, the creators of the 2018 adventure game Mulaka, Aztech: Forgotten Gods showed tremendous potential in his first trailers as a narrative action game based on Mesoamerican mythology. Yet the finished product squanders all of its pretensions to greatness: not only is it a mess for Switch players, but its gameplay loop and narrative crumble under the weight of their aspirations, resulting in a disappointment of divine proportions.

Image: Lienzo

Back to the Aztec future

Aztech follows a young woman named Achil, the one-armed daughter of a respected explorer and resident of the hypermodern metropolis of Tenochtitlan. She leads a mundane life with a series of odd jobs until a cataclysmic event unleashes the spirits of the Old Gods on Earth and throws the city into chaos. With the powers of a mythological hero suddenly imposed on her, she embarks on a quest to stop these otherworldly creatures from wreaking havoc on the city – and must confront her own past in the process.

For an action game Aztech features an impressive emphasis on its narrative and seeks to offer something more than the genre’s typical formula of heroism, combat and triumph. The game’s Mesoamerican setting provides plenty of cultural reference material to draw from, while the focus on family dynamics through Achil’s close relationship with her mother gives the story a uniquely personal perspective. But even inside Aztechs In the opening segment, it quickly becomes clear that this heavy focus on the narrative was completely misguided. Players don’t spend most of their time challenging epic bosses or exploring fantastical cityscapes, but instead engaging in countless conversations in which they try – and mostly fail – to elaborate on this world.

This emphasis on dialogue wouldn’t pose a problem if the residents of Tenochtitlan had something interesting to say, but that’s rarely the case: conversations last for what feels like hours as characters keep talking about the latest Aztec research and telling the story of the city within tantalizing details or concoct theories about the newly arrived gods. These dry conversations are extraordinarily exposed, making it difficult to resist the urge to skip every cutscene and just get on with the game. Even its fascinating lore, full of Aztec deities and ancient warriors, is lost in the exhibition’s sea, resulting in a narrative that feels shockingly somber for such an impressive concept.

Aztech Forgotten Gods

Aztechs The lack of voice acting coupled with the stilted character animations makes it particularly difficult to engage in this dogged quest. When characters move like jerky puppets, their faces twisting into hideous meshes every time they open their mouths, it’s hard to engage with what they’re saying. While there may be no voice acting, the characters aren’t entirely silent: much like traditional Zelda titles, most characters will still emit some sort of audible moan, groan, sigh, or exclamation to accompany each of their written lines, sounds that grate on the ears almost immediately with their repetition in almost every text field of the story.

For all his troubles Aztechs The narrative arc isn’t bad at its core – it picks up steam especially towards the final act of the game as it delves deeper into Achtil’s strained relationship with her family and her struggle to find a place for herself in the world. Yet when you have to wade through hours of exhibition filing and exhaustive explanations of everything you need to do for each mission, all accompanied by the same five grunt sound effects repeated ad nauseam in every conversation, it seems for the storytelling The game’s potential seem nigh impossible to see beneath all the clutter.

Image: Lienzo

pick up weapons

Gameplay doesn’t look much better. Achtil is armed with an overpowered gauntlet known as the Lightkeeper, a tool that allows her to fly through the skies like a jetpack and battle any renegade gods she encounters in her path. In the precious little time between cutscenes and conversations to venture out into the world, use Lightkeeper to explore a compact open-world setting of Tenochtitlan and the surrounding countryside, and hunt down the monsters that inhabit the devastate environment.

Problems arise almost from the moment the initial tutorial ends. Tenochtitlan is about as barren as an open world can get, and while its pyramidal structures attempt to evoke Aztec architecture, its drab gray towers and monorails feel more like an industrial complex than a living, breathing city. The nature lovers that make up the game’s NPCs do little to make the world feel alive, and while there are a few mini-games and collectibles dotted around the city streets, these side objectives quickly become repetitive and add up hardly adds a dimension to the world of the game.

Aztech Forgotten Gods
The scariest monsters of Aztech Forgotten Gods are the citizens of Tenochtitlan (screenshot unfortunately by the author)

The fight itself leaves a lot to be desired. The combat system relies heavily on button pressing, so don’t be surprised if you can take down most enemies, including bosses, simply by pressing the attack button – or by occasionally holding down the powerful attack button when you’re feeling perky feel. The automatic lock-on system also poses problems, as there’s no way to reliably control which enemies you lock on to – a dynamic that becomes particularly problematic in boss fights, where minions often surround the big villain, making it unnecessarily difficult do to achieve your desired goal.

But what about the battles against the gods themselves? Boss encounters are the main highlights of aztech, but even they fall victim to needless difficulties. Each of the game’s massive bosses boast distinctive designs and incredible scale and scope, sometimes on the level of something like shadow of the colossus, where a tiny achtile must overcome adversity to bring down a gigantic monster. However, these bosses expose the game’s most fundamental mechanical issues, including the unwieldy camera and floating, unpredictable movement.

Lightkeeper excels in speed but not so much precision, making it all too easy for you to fly right past a boss unless you exercise extreme care and methodical attention – a challenging one considering how combat is like requires quick reactions to avoid attacks and exploits the enemy’s weaknesses in the first place. These shaky controls turn many fights into tests of stamina rather than skill, and while there’s a lock-on system for attacks, there’s no way to set what the camera will lock on – it can lock on the boss, but it could also lock on Focus nearby grunts, and with the intensity of the screen, it can be impossible to tell what you’re actually attacking. Even with routine world exploration, the camera poses a problem, as it often disappears behind walls, making it impossible to see what’s going on.

Aztech Forgotten Gods
Image: Lienzo

Once again, the potential is there – there’s an undeniable satisfaction in chopping down these gargantuan snakes, monkeys, skeletons and other amorphous creatures of other dimensions. But when the camera frantically bangs in all directions while the controls themselves work against you, each encounter eventually becomes more frustrating than fun.

To add insult to injury, the game is also about as ugly as sin, especially on Switch. Resolution drops to shocking lows in some areas, where not-too-distant parts of the environment condense into chunky clumps of pixels and some elements of the environment look like they’ve been ripped straight out of a PS1 asset pack. While it’s somewhat understandable that these issues are as bad as they are on Switch, they look just as harsh on other platforms, making for an inexcusably harsh technical package. The sci-fi and Aztec-inspired art direction may be solid, but it’s let down by its lackluster execution.

Aztech Forgotten Gods
Image: Lienzo

A tragic conquest

Aztech Forgotten Gods didn’t have to be like that. Its setting is endlessly moving, its narrative extremely promising, and its gameplay potentially addictive. But his ambitions are clearly far too big for Lienzo, as the game groans under the pressure of managing a fast-paced combat system, an open world, and a deep narrative all at the same time.

If the game had simply focused on one of its core ideas — if it had put more emphasis on its narrative presentation or combat system, for example — it could have been a far more cohesive end product. As it is now, however, the game feels like the developers wanted to do a dozen different things and failed at every one of them. Its jerky mechanics, hideous presentation, and drab narrative make for an experience worth traversing the path of the forgotten gods for yourself – don’t waste your memory space on this one.

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