There is a point with kittens where they can basically break fundamental laws of physics. Where they can reach such speed and hectic enthusiasm that they can essentially run up a person, up the legs, the torso, navigate the fleshy intricacies of the face. They’re not so much defying gravity as refusing to engage with it. Kittens have zip.
Aztech Forgotten Gods has a bit of zip to it as well – and it has the kitten leg-dash move down perfectly. At times it has far too much zip, even. I’ve been playing the early stages of Aztech on Switch over the last morning or so. I had read reviews that suggested the camera is extremely wayward (it is) and the open world is kind of empty (it is), and that the whole thing feels like it’s pushing the boundaries of this kind of action game beyond the point where it’s comfortable. True, I think! But it doesn’t matter to me so much. Aztech is the epitome of one of those games that is just wildly ambitious – it’s very hard for me not to get swept up in its ideas.
There is something really wonderful here. Lots of wonderful things. Take the world, for instance. Aztech’s far-future Mesoamerican city is a wonderful open world, filled with buildings that look cool and are also brilliant to scale. I spend a lot of time here already ignoring the main quest line and just seeing where I can get to, which peaks I can reach. It looks like no other world I can think of in a game.
And then there’s the way you get around it. In Aztech you play Achtli, a young woman battling ancient gods by means of a sort of stone-tech gauntlet strapped to one hand. This gauntlet allows you to punch things, but also lets you blast your way around the world, dashing forward and taking to the skies.
Learning to control it – and the camera – is a definite challenge, possibly not entirely intentional, but I’ve loved it so far. When you hit a wall you can dash straight up it, which brings back lovely memories of Prototype, and you have a fuel gauge that recharges quickly but can still run dry on you at the most hilariously ill-judged moments.
Speaking of which, as far as I can gather, most of the main events of Aztech involve taking on giant city-dwarfing bosses. It’s sort of a boss-rush open-world game, which is a genre I would like to see more of. I’ve fought one of these so far and it was a chaotic marvel. Yes, the camera did not behave a lot of the time, but how could it? I was dashing about through the air, kitten-running up a huge stone torso, attacking glowing weak spots and then flopping back to earth. It was pretty wild. It was memorable!
Even in the midst of this, I keep noticing little inventive things. As an example, the first boss can fire off a sort of expanding death bubble – in pink, of course – which hurts you when it reaches you. But the death bubble has these gaps in it and as it grows the gaps grow, and maybe you can slot yourself through them. It reminded me of nothing so much as tackling a baby’s shape sorter.
Before Aztech, Lienzo, the Chihuahua, Mexico-based developer, made a handful of games, including Mulaka, which looks absolutely wonderful. I’ll check that out in the next few weeks, hopefully. But for now I’m going to stick with Aztech, despite the odd frustration. I’m in love with its energy and desire to do huge things.
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