I’m an optimist by nature. This typically makes it easier for me to take a look at a demo or early build of a game and have a sense of what exactly it is that the developer is trying to achieve, how successful it is in doing so in its early stages, and whether or not I think that game is going to have a solid foundation to build upon as it heads for its 1.0 release.
Some games are easier than others, of course, with some less polished previews forcing me to use all of the tools in my toolbox to make an educated guess. Aztech Forgotten Gods, from the award-winning developer Lienzo, falls into the latter category with its early – very early – demo version that will be available to play for free during Steam Next Fest, which kicks off this week. However, while the demo for Aztech Forgotten Gods certainly has its fair share of hurdles to overcome before its full release, I’m confident that the team at Lienzo will rise to the occasion, much like the game’s player-controlled protagonist.
You’re not given a ton of backstory in the opening dialogue sequence. All you know is that your character, Achtli, is trying to help out her scientist mom as they try to unlock the secrets behind a new artifact with the help of Achtli’s stone-tech mechanical arm named, Lightkeeper – which also happens to be inhabited by a magical, ancient entity. During a test, however, Achtli appears to unlock a secret that only she can see, which also results in colossal beasts to rise and attack the cyberpunk city of Tenochtitlan, the jewel of the Aztec Empire. It’s up to Achtli and the special powers of her mechanical arm to save the day.
Shadow of the Colossus, but with a Latinx-Futurism flair. That said, although it has some similar combat mechanics, this is no Team Ico game.The demo only features a single boss battle, but that’s essentially what the game is about. Think of Aztech Forgotten Gods as a more Saturday morning cartoon version of
Let’s talk about the combat mechanics first though, since that’s what’s at the core of the game. You’ll use Achtli’s arm to fly around and beat the pulp out of your gargantuan enemies, aiming for specific weak points during the battle (sound familiar?). You won’t be climbing these enemies, though – at least, you won’t be in the demo. You’ll use Achtli’s cyberstone mechanical arm that allows you to fly through the air for a surprisingly long time. In the air, you’ll pummel the beasts while avoiding their attacks – the most annoying of which in the demo is the area of effect attack that leaves very little room error when trying to avoid getting hit, which feels like something that needs to be considerably tightened up.
On that note, the camera system is especially frustrating. Whenever I was on the ground, I often found myself clipping below the surface, looking up only to see black and a few sporadic pieces of Achtli’s polygonal hair moving around. This was only solvable by jumping up and flying into the air again, with the camera following in tow.
Despite these opportunities for improvement, the game’s combat is actually a lot of fun. That is to say that when everything is ironed out for the full release, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The boss battle takes endurance, no doubt about that. But it never felt like it wore out its welcome. I was able to overlook the in-battle frustrations because of how engaging the fight itself was. In a game that describes itself as a “colossus fighter”, that seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
I do hope that actual voiced characters are added before the final release. Right now, dialogue sequences take place via subtitles and a sequence of grunts and gasps that sound something like Simlish and get very annoying very quickly. Based on the brief interactions and conversations in the demo, Aztech Forgotten Gods feels like a game that will have a lot of heart. I think that feeling could be elevated greatly with voiced characters where emotions could be invoked and felt, creating a far more engaging story.
Aztech Forgotten Gods isn’t a perfect game yet. Far from it. However, it’s pretty clear that Lienzo has a distinct vision for its next game. I’m confident that they’ll deliver on that vision. I was admittedly never great at Shadow of the Colossus. Aztech Forgotten Gods, however, seems to be right up my alley.
A PC code was provided to TheGamer for this preview. The Aztech Forgotten Gods demo will be available to play for free during Steam Next Fest, which takes place October 1-7.
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