Ahhh Mexico, the birthplace of tasty spicy Latino foods that I love so much, beautiful people, and the setting for the addictively infuriating Aztez.
In Aztez, you are responsible for expanding and maintaining the Aztec empire with turn based gameplay, and managing the chaos of the people with real-time beat ’em up segments. The goal of the game is to survive long enough to confront, and defeat, the Spanish. A game of Aztez doesn’t take too long to play, but it is hugely replayable! Every game of empire management is different from the last; different events will occur, different challenges will emerge, and different spoils will be taken every game. The game’s main drive is to get a highscore on the leaderboard, as there isn’t really any plot to speak of.
The features a visually appealing black and white art style that grew on me the more I played, and sounds that match the setting nicely enough.
The gameplay uses a mixture of turn-based strategy in it’s empire conquering segments, while implementing quick responsive real-time 2D action in the combat segments. It’s an unfamiliar mix that doesn’t seem like they’d go well together, but somehow they do. It has a few modes but the main two are the ever changing campaign, an Arena mode.
I strongly recommend beginning with the the Arena mode for learning enemy patterns without having to worry about the investment of time that the campaign takes.
This is most relevant because when you begin Aztez for the first time, you are given a brief tutorial to help you grasp the mechanics in play; however, I found this tutorial insufficient. In it you are taught the most basic requirements needed to play the game, and the rest you need to learn from play, or from the easy to find manual placed on the pause menu. This particular aspect of the game has me torn, as I’m not 100% sure if I hated that there’s not enough tutorial, or if I’m happy there isn’t too much. It’s one of those things think will vary from player to player. Some may appreciate the euphoric feeling of discovery when they learn something new, While others will curse the gods after being defeated for the 20 time without proper justification. I’ll admit now that during the review process I rage quit this title more times than I can remember, but I guess a testament to how good the game actually is that I kept coming back after a few hours. This is because for the most part the game is fair. If you die it’s because you’re just not good enough… or injured like me “I refuse to accept that I wouldn’t be better at this if I wasn’t currently injured.”
Now I know that some of you clever people will have noticed that I said that the game is fair ‘for the most part’. Well clever person there’s a reason I stated it that way. You see, though the mechanics are pretty solid, and the combat is highly skill based similar to the likes of Dark Souls, there are few instances where the game seems unfairly stacked in the favor of the opposition. This mostly occurs when the Spanish invade, and more so If you are defeated by them in combat. If that happens they gain the help of some of the Aztec people, some of whom have seemingly unblockable attacks. This combination of relentless unblockable attacks, and the Spanish’s ranged attacks can turn a once thriving empire on its head in a matter of minutes as your Aztez warriors fall one by one.
Oh but there is a silver lining to me mentioning this. I’m gonna teach you a trick to defeating the Spanish that isn’t mentioned in the game. First get yourself a means to make a note I’ll wait….. OK you got something? Good, good.
So here’s how it’s done. First you want to expand your cities to the edge of the map as much as possible while growing your population. This will result in you gaining extra Aztez. Then you’re gonna want to place a general in each of your second most outer regions by spending some resources. That way when the Spanish invade you will be able to prevent them from taking your cities immediately, and advancing, because they move fast, like a plague. OK now that that’s sorted, keep growing your empire keeping at least a general on each of your cities. Note that It’s not important too grow fast if you can’t protect that growth.
Next you want to attack the Spanish as soon as they come in range. This way they will have less numbers. The trick to beating them is to jump when you see that first projectile leave their guns. Use your blood gathering ability to hover in the air till the bullets pass then attack them with your sword using down attacks till their defense is broken. Keep in mind that you should stop whatever you’re doing to jump if you see the warning projectile crossing the screen. Repeat this tactics till you defeated them. When they are on the run then use it again, but be mindful of their generals who summon horses at random.
If you use this technique you’ll have a good chance of winning. I say a chance because Aztez is random as Frak and you could face the Spanish before you have time to prepare or you could get your timing completely wrong, and die.
Oh, one more tip, keep an eye out for the Spanish armor perk and the god of fortune. The armor halves Spanish damage on your Aztez warriors, and Fortune slows down time for a few seconds. Both should make defeating the Spanish easier.
If you’re a fan of difficult skill based games like Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden, or Devil May Cry, then Aztez is a title you may want to try. The game can seem a bit unfair when unstoppable attacks wreck you from off screen, but with enough practice, and skill you’ll soon be building epic empires and taking over the leader-board.
The copy of Aztez used for this review was provided to us by its publisher, Team Colorblind.