An unforgettable encounter.
Initially released back in December 2021, but out now on the Nintendo Switch, Aztech Forgotten Gods is Lienzo’s latest offering and just recently, we had the chance to reach out to the developers and talk about the game at length. From development to mythology, to amazing powers and the admirable Achtli, we’ve discussed it all now is the time for sharing the entire exchange, but first, let’s introduce you to Guillermo Vizcaino:
Miketendo64: Before we dive right into the probing questions, we always like to start things off nice and light. Therefore, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Hi guys! Sure. This is Guillermo Vizcaino, I am an indie game developer. I’ve had a controller in my hands for as long as I can remember. Through many periods of my life gaming has been an escape, a relief and a joy. I truly do believe that games are the ultimate tool for storytelling and there is just something special about them that eventually led me to work in them. I have a background in Mechatronics engineering, and I’ve been in the industry in a professional capacity for a little over 6 years.
Miketendo64: And now to follow-up, what is your role at Lienzo and what is the extent of your involvement with Aztech Forgotten Gods?
Guillermo Vizcaino: I’m Head of PR & Marketing and Lead Writer at Lienzo. I’m in charge of trying to get the game into as many eyeballs as possible, running our PR and marketing campaigns. Likewise, I co-wrote Aztech’s story with the wonderful Alexa Ray Corriea, which to me is one of the highlights of the game. It’s gut wrenching and unexpectedly emotional… Though I admit, I may perhaps be a bit biased!
Miketendo64: To properly kick things off, can you tell us a bit about Aztech Forgotten Gods? What is it and how does it play?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Aztech Forgotten Gods is an action-adventure game set in a fictional futuristic Mesoamerican metropolis. You play as Achtli, a young woman who comes into contact with an ancient prosthetic artifact that will grant her superhuman abilities. Throughout the game, she will face a number of deities resembling the gods from the Aztec pantheon. As for how it plays, the artifact Achtli acquires allows her to boost around in the air, essentially allowing her to fly. There is an emphasis in aerial combat and figuring out ways to out-manoeuvre these gigantic foes you will be facing.
Miketendo64: With female protagonist Achtli thrust into the forefront of Aztech Forgotten Gods’ action, can you tell is more about the heroine?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Achtli is an incredibly interesting character, ever since the very beginning we designed her to be a broken hero, a flawed character. We wanted people to empathize with her, and we wanted her to grow throughout her journey.
Achtli is stuck in the past, traumatized by the passing of her father, an accidental tragedy for which she blames herself. Grief, guilt, anxiety, are emotions that will commonly surface as you play through the game. She is a character that in more than one way reflects some of the inner demons both Alexa and I kept fighting with at a tough time in both our lives. Achtli is the embodiment of the many emotions we went through during the pandemic, at its peak, some of our personal feelings, some of our loses. Achtli represents all that.
Miketendo64: Aztech Forgotten Gods sees Achtli having to use the powers of the Gods against the Gods themselves. Can you tell us a bit about these powers and how they function?
Guillermo Vizcaino: In traditional Aztec lore, there are two basic components of the universe. What the Mexica/Nahua ancestors used to call “hard matter” and “light matter”. Hard matter is what makes up everything that you can see and touch, most things in the mortal realm as made up of hard matter, which simultaneously is made up of a number of other things, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll keep it at hard matter.
Light matter, on the other hand. makes up everything that we cannot see or touch, everything that is in the ethereal realm. That for which we don’t have an explanation. Most natural phenomena were explained by the concept of “light matter”. A great example of this are human sacrifices, which is one of the things for which the Mesoamerican cultures are globally known for.
Well, these sacrifices were intended to be an exchange of energy between the mortals and the gods. The concept of what today we would call “soul”, encompassed under the label of light matter, was offered to the deities of the Aztec pantheon, in exchange for favours or grace. In the game, the artifact that Achtli comes into contact with is called “Lightkeeper”, not because it absorbs “Light” per se, but rather because it handles “light matter”.
Mulaka & Mythology:
Miketendo64: With Mulaka being a previous title you’ve worked on, did development of this game help influence Aztech Forgotten Gods in any capacity?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Surely! Mulaka taught us a lot about the right way to handle cultural content in games. There are many steps to take when making games like this that ensure that the mythological content is being shown with respect and authenticity.
In addition to this, Mulaka was our first many things: first 3D game, first combat-centric experience, first game for the Nintendo Switch, etc. Technically speaking we learned plenty from it, and all of that knowledge helped us build Aztech.
Miketendo64: Mulaka touched on the Tarahumara culture and incorporated it into the game and now we have Aztech Forgotten Gods, representing the Aztech culture. How has Aztech influenced the gameplay and story?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Unlike Mulaka, Aztech Forgotten Gods is a game with an original story, a fictional story that allowed us to have creative freedom in what the game is trying to say. That said, Aztec culture was a heavy inspiration for our setting. Everything from architecture, social structure, theology and cosmovision, it all help to define the game’s universe.
Miketendo64: With Aztech Forgotten Gods out now, are there any other mythologies or Mexican cultures that you are looking forward to portraying in a future title?
Guillermo Vizcaino: We don’t necessarily look at it like that. What Lienzo strives to portray in the studio’s games are unknown stories, untold parts of Mexican tradition. Native American stories and cultural heritage is a fantastic example of unexplored content that we love to put on the stage under the spotlight, but they are not the only source of inspiration we plan to have going forward.
Miketendo64: For those unfamiliar with the term “Mesoamerican metropolis,” would you be so kind as to provide an explanation?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Sure, Mesoamerica is a region encompassing central Mexico and most of Central America, a lot of different civilizations flourished in these areas: Mexicas, Teotihuacans, Mayans, Olmecs, etc. These are known as the Mesoamerican Civilizations.
The game takes place on the city of Tenochtitlan, the once mighty capital of the Aztec Empire. Even back in history, these cities the Mesoamerican civilizations built could already be considered a series of metropolises, we are talking about sprawling cites with upwards of 200,000 inhabitants, perhaps even reaching 400,000.
Miketendo64: What was your favourite pieces of Aztec lore you learned about when doing your research and were there any specific mythologies and lore that you felt compelled to include?
Guillermo Vizcaino: There is this very funny story around the time that the Spaniards arrived in Mesoamerican territory. It is said that the arrival of the Spanish armada coincided with the expected date in which the mighty Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl would return to retake his throne. Believing that the Spaniards were either heralds of the gods or perhaps even gods themselves, the Aztecs gave them what they would usually offer the gods as tribute, in this case blood-soaked food. The Spaniards were absolutely disgusted and came to believe the Aztecs to be brutes that would soak their food in blood. In reality it was all a big mix-up.
In terms of additional lore or mythologies, we didn’t want to mix several mythologies to make up the game’s universe, the Mexica / Nahua culture was already plenty and in a way was already influenced by the rest of the Mesoamerican mythologies. Most of the deities in these stories are already shared across Mesoamerica as it is.
Here, There & Everywhere:
Miketendo64: With interesting visuals and compelling environments, what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered as part of creating the game’s design?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Having an explorable city was probably one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced as a studio. The scope was extremely ambitious. Many lessons were learnt as we designed this playable space. Likewise, artistically, finding a sweet spot between traditionally Aztec and futuristic was an ordeal. Fortunately, our Art Director Daniel did an incredible job in combining all elements and making sure the game never lost that uniqueness that the Aztec aesthetic brought to the table.
Miketendo64: When making a culturally inspired game such as Aztech Forgotten Gods, was there anything in particular that you knew you just had to include, to further accentuate the adventure and story?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Mesoamerican mythologies are incredibly rich, particularly Mexica/Nahua which is the base mythological content we used as inspiration. Many of those stories, served as a basis for what you see today in the game. Particularly the relationship between a group of gods known as the Tezcatlipocas. Both Tez (shorthand for Tezcatlipoca) and Quetzalcoatl are a part of this group. They are creator deities and many of the most intriguing stories in the Aztec lore revolve around them.
Miketendo64: Video game development is a lot like the development of a child. It is very involved, the hours are long and each child and development process, is completely different from the next. How does Aztech Forgotten Gods compare to the other games you’ve worked on? Did you learn anything new about yourself and the development process?
Guillermo Vizcaino: Absolutely! New lessons were learned for sure, in terms of design, marketing, and even technical processes. We lived through a generational shift in terms of hardware. We had to learn how to shift our focus and acquire skills necessary to make the most out of a multi-platform, multi-generational release.
Miketendo64: With Aztech Forgotten Gods releasing on multiple platforms, what has been the hardest part of game development for yourselves and are there any differences across versions, regarding visuals and frame rate?
Guillermo Vizcaino: The fact that the game was launched on many platforms, translated to more work the team needed to put on. However, we are happy that we could have the game be available for as many platforms. We wanted everyone and anyone to have access to the game, regardless of their platform of choice.
Given that we are working with platforms of varying computing power, the game does run differently in all of them. However, we believe the experience to be good on all of them. I believe the hardest part of the process was to work on the extremes, we needed to have a game that was optimized enough to run smoothly on a handheld-capable platform like the Nintendo Switch, while at the same time we wanted to fully utilize the additional performance of next-gen hardware. Game development is a world of compromises.
Miketendo64: For the completionists out there, how long should Aztech Forgotten Gods take to complete and just how much content does the whole game have to offer?
Guillermo Vizcaino: The game itself is not terribly long. You should be able to play through the main story in about 7 hours, and for a completionist run, you should be able to get a 100% in about 10 hours. The game offers a few options for side content; however, the main focus of the game is the main narrative arc.
Dreaming the “N” Possible:
Miketendo64: Since we are a Nintendo site, with the likes of WayForward being allowed to work on the upcoming Advanced Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp and Brace Yourself Games developing 2019’s Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda, if you had the chance to work on ANY Nintendo IP, which one would be your dream come true and, if you were in charge of the entire project, what kind of game would you like to make?
Guillermo Vizcaino: That is an absolutely great question. Speaking for the studio, I think Zelda would be the right answer, as we have the most experience working on action-adventure games and we are already heavily inspired by Zelda. That said, if I was to answer that personally and not think about the studio, I would definitely go for Metroid. Unfortunately, that game is already in development and it’s called Metroid Prime 4, but I’ve always wanted to do a first-person exploration-driven adventure game.
Miketendo64: Since Aztech Forgotten Gods is by no means the only game Lienzo has been involved in, we would love to take this moment to talk about some of your other games. So, are there any games you would love to recommend to our readers?
Guillermo Vizcaino: As a formal independent studio we have worked on 3 titles for PC and console:
Hunter’s Legacy, a 2D metroidvania side-scroller where you play as a yellow kitty named Ikki. This one has a fantasy setting and is a game very dear to our hearts. You can even find a Switch remaster for the game called Hunter’s Legacy Purrfect Edition right here: https://www.nintendo.com/store/products/hunters-legacy-purrfect-edition-switch/
Mulaka, a 3D action-adventure game inspired by the beautiful culture of the Tarahuamara. You play as a shaman with the ability to morph into a variety of animals to solve puzzles and face mighty foes in a world inspired by real life locations in the jaw-dropping northern Mexico landscapes:
Miketendo64: Other than Aztech Forgotten Gods, does Lienzo have anything else lined up in the pipeline that gamers the world over could hope to enjoy sometime later in 2022 and 2023?
Guillermo Vizcaino: We are already working on pre-production for our next title! However, people will need to be a little patient as we are still a bit away from any reveals.
Miketendo64: Final question, is there anything you would like to say, or any additional comments you would like to add, for our readers and your fans? The floor is yours.
Guillermo Vizcaino: Nothing much, I’d like to thank you and your team for the space, it’s a pleasure to talk to your audience and we sincerely hope that you get to enjoy Aztech Forgotten Gods. For any additional information we invite you all to follow Lienzo’s social media accounts! We are everywhere as either LienzoMx or Liezo Mexico. Thank you!
Guillermo, it was an absolute pleasure having you grace our site and speak to us about Aztech Forgotten Gods. We wish you and the team all the best and look forward to finding out about your next game in due course.
About Aztech Forgotten Gods:
Aztech Forgotten Gods is the cyber-stone action-adventure following Achtli, a young woman who battles the colossal Forgotten Gods. To uncover the truth behind her far-future Mesoamerican metropolis, she’ll have to turn the Gods’ power against them, as she soars through the city with power and grace.