A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The protagonist, Achtli, is determined to stop rampant gods from destroying everything she holds dear. Throughout her journey, she learns to acknowledge and overcome her grief and pain through self-reflection and perseverance. She's also confronted by ancient deities and utilizes bravery and strength to fend them off. With her mother and close friend backing her up and supporting her every step of the way, Achtli becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Positive Role Models
The protagonist herself is the personification of bravery and strength. Curious about the world around her and eager to help those in need, Achtli accepts the massive burden put upon her shoulders and steps up to save the day. When confronted with the pains of her past, Achtli does her best to look within to deal with her grief in productive ways. Achtli's mother is a scientist who loves and understands her daughter, and she also pushes herself to learn more about the history and contributions of her people. Achtli also has a close friend who assists her in figuring out the mysteries surrounding the Lightkeeper, a mechanical gauntlet linked to the gods of old.
Focusing on Aztec mythology, Aztech Forgotten Gods is a refreshing change of pace for an underrepresented group. There are many interesting representations of Mesoamerican gods you'll encounter, as well as members of the Mesoamerican culture with varying body types and hairstyles. But despite its presentation, the game could've gone a little further in developing the many deities and characters it represents.
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Ease of Play
Armed with Lightkeeper, a mechanical gauntlet with god-like power, the player is able to harness the gauntlet's energy to do devastating attacks, as well as fly throughout the air. Your main means of moving around the world will be through boosting via the gauntlet, and most of the game is dependent on this air-based mechanic. But this concept comes with a few issues. It can be rather difficult to control exactly where you're going, as you'll often be going pretty fast. This can cause unintended actions such as running up buildings and walls, which can stop your momentum dead in its tracks. It also makes the boss fights less of a real, rewarding challenge and more of a struggle with the floaty controls combined with the slippery momentum of the gauntlet.
Violence & Scariness
While the main attraction of the game is using a mechanical gauntlet to punch gigantic gods into submission, there's not a lot of "violence." You never fight a human enemy, but instead, you contend with the gods and their underlings — and the underlings are more so "constructs" made of various shapes. When you hit enemies, there's no blood or gore. Enemies harmlessly disappear once defeated, and even if you're beaten, your character quickly passes out and you get a Game Over screen. There's one instance of blood, briefly shown on a cloth.
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There's occasional foul language such as "damn," "ass," "bitch," "bastard," and even "s--t," but it's infrequent. There's no voiced dialogue, so conversation is delivered in written text.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Aztech Forgotten Gods is a single-player, downloadable action-adventure game available for Xbox Series X and Series S, Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 5. The player takes on the role of Achtli, a young Mesoamerican woman who comes across a recently discovered mechanical gauntlet. She quickly finds herself with the monumental task of dealing with the sudden appearance of the Forgotten Gods, a group of mysterious deities who threaten to upend her way of life. Achtli deals with loss, grief, and self-doubt. But she's given an overwhelming responsibility, and along the course of her journey, the player gets to experience her growth into a self-assured person. Aztech may be about defeating colossal gods, but the heart of the story centers around Achtli's guilt and the love and support of her family and friends. Although there's a much-needed Mesoamerican focus, which is only rarely touched upon in video games, the game's controls mixed with the difficulty of the gauntlet's sense of momentum when trying to fly may prove to be immensely frustrating.
Is It Any Good?
Unfortunately, despite some positive elements, the uneven, frustrating gameplay prevents this game from reaching the potential and ambition it sets for itself. Aztech Forgotten Gods is clearly crafted with caring hands: from the unique designs of the gods you battle, to the characterization of the protagonist, to the careful bits of lore and Mesoamerican history sprinkled throughout the game. But the core mechanic of using Lightkeeper, the god-destroying gauntlet, for movement through the skies is severely flawed. You'll find yourself accidentally bouncing off of bosses, walls, and many other objects as you try to get your bearings at any given moment. You can't control exactly how fast you're going, turning in any direction is slow and sluggish, and the action is stiff, leaving you open to incoming attacks.
You also have the option to do races as side missions to upgrade your gauntlet or purchase new hairstyles and outfits. But your erratic movements while flying make races a chore rather than a fun distraction from the primary story. As far as combat is concerned, your gauntlet has one primary punching attack in which you mash a single button to deal with your foes. While there's a timing-based element here, it's unnecessary when frantically pressing one button does the job just as well. The character models have a visible lack of polish and detail, which makes the game's bigger moments less impactful as you'll be too distracted by the rigid animations and facial expressions to take anything too seriously.The game is full of bugs, glitches, and gameplay that borders on exhausting at times. But its saving grace is that the foundation is there for bigger, better games set in the same world. It's a tragically flawed game with the potential to be so much more than it is. With its Mesoamerican focus and intriguing concept, Aztech Forgotten Gods can be an imperfect sample of a fully-realized future franchise.
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