Aztech Forgotten Gods Review: Trying To Bring The Light
When I previewed Aztech Forgotten Gods, I was excited by the potential of the action-adventure game that featured big boss battles – a la Shadow of the Colossus – and a futuristic “cyber-stone” universe. The demo felt pretty rough and choppy, but I was definitely able to see exactly what indie developer/publisher Lienzo was going for in its reimagined take on Aztec mythology. Those same feelings continue in the full release of the game, which is both a good and not-so-good thing. I stop short of saying “bad” because, ultimately, Aztech Forgotten Gods is a lot of fun to play, so long as you set your expectations of the game to that of a top-tier PS2 game.
Aztech Forgotten Gods puts you in the role of Achtli – a young Aztec woman who finds herself fighting massive, ancient stone gods with the help of Lightbringer – a weaponized cyber-stone gauntlet that wields incredible energy and power.
The story is the central driver for the game, as Achtli uncovers the mystery behind Lightbringer, her connection to the mystical entity that inhabits the gauntlet, and why she was chosen to wear it. Achtli is also tasked with discovering the truth of her scientist mother’s canceled project and the shady dealings of her mother’s boss. All of this takes place in a far-future Mesoamerican metropolis full of modernized ancient buildings, complete with flying hover cars and state-of-the-art transportation systems.
The semi-open world element of Aztech Forgotten Gods is a nice touch on the exposition-heavy game (more on that in a bit). Although you have set objectives that are clearly highlighted, you’re welcome to roam the city taking in the sights, testing your fighting skills in a timed combat mode, racing around the city using Lightbringer’s Iron Man – or, in this case – Ironheart-style jet thrusters, customizing Achtli’s appearance, or searching for the hidden tomes that fill in the historical gaps. It’s not the biggest, most impressive city to explore, but it’s definitely fun flying around using the gauntlet.
Lightbringer and its powers is easily the highlight of the game. Flying around and using special moves, such as wall grabbing/running and power-boosting at top-end speed is incredibly satisfying. I’ve never played Marvel’s Avengers, but Lightbringer's powers legitimately make me feel like Iron Man, possibly even more than the 2008 game did. This extends to the colossus battles that take place throughout the game.
The boss fights are definitely the main draw of Aztech Forgotten Gods. However, while on the same grand scale as something like Shadow of the Colossus premise-wise, Aztech Forgotten Gods feels a lot more like battle mechanics were thrown together quickly. Different bosses have different strategies – such as taking out an energy core before being able to effectively hit the boss – but a lot of the boss’ offensive moves feel pretty random. Lasers, force fields, deadly orbs… it’s all par for the course here. Other moves, however, like the damaging wall that randomly pops up, feel like they were added just for the sake of difficulty. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and they do make the boss battles harder, but they mostly just feel out of place and disrupt the flow of the fight.
I guess, though, that this falls in line with the details that were a bit overlooked before the game launched. The same clipping and camera issues from the demo are still often encountered in the game. The issues aren’t game-breaking, but there were definitely more than a few times that a terrible camera angle clipping outside the level resulted in my demise. The visuals as a whole made me feel like I was playing an early Tomb Raider raider game on a PS2 or PS3. They are obviously not as choppy or blocky as those early games, but the aesthetics just kind of gives off those vibes (which is definitely not a bad thing and, in fact, adds to the enjoyment of the game for me personally).
Aztech Forgotten Gods’ story is interesting and engaging, which is good since there is a ton of dialogue between Achtli and a handful of characters. Unfortunately, it’s easy to quickly tire of the grunts, gasps, and other expressive noises that emit from the characters instead of actual words. You’re left having to read the subtitles. I do this on all games anyways, but I think the game certainly could have been elevated with some voice actors breathing life into the characters. I’m sure this would have been expensive due to the sheer amount of dialogue, but I think it would have been worth it.
Aztech Forgotten Gods is a good game if you know what to expect, but there are plenty of areas that could have been made better prior to its release. I genuinely had fun with it and enjoyed my time flying around with Lightbringer. A little polish would have just gone a long way in making it even brighter.