A development studio in Chihuahua has announced a game that portrays the Mexica as a civilization fighting against the gods it forgot.
Have you ever wondered what impact the Aztec empire would have had if it hadn’t been conquered by the Spanish? What would its technology be like? How much territory would it have?
Now you can experience it through a video game.
The Lienzo studio has made it happen. These Mexican programmers in Chihuahua have developed the game Aztech Forgotten Gods based on an alternate version of Mexican history.
It’s a game for latest-generation consoles, which will show a mixture of the past and the futuristic technology of the Mexica.
The story unfolds in an alternate world where the Aztec empire was never conquered.
Time has passed, and the Mexica have formed an empire that develops stone to an impressive degree.
The Aztecs forgot their gods, those idols that dominated Mesoamerican beliefs. In this version, we can see gods such as Quetzalcóatl (the feathered serpent), Huitzilopochtli (the god of war), Tláloc (the god of rain), Mictlantecuhtli (the god of the underworld), and Tonatiuh (the god of the sun).
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It all starts with Achtli, the protagonist of this video game, who accompanies her archaeologist mother to a secret excavation.
Her name means “seed” and refers to Mother Earth in the story. Inadvertently, they unleash an ancient power source that awakens the pantheon of Aztec gods, who are all determined to destroy the city.
With a mysterious stone artifact, similar to a glove, Achtli must face the forgotten gods to prevent them from destroying her city and life as she knows it.
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The place is a version of the city of Tenochtitlán, considered the jewel of the northern hemisphere.
It’s a cityscape of skyscrapers, architectural wonders, the best arts, and the most advanced institutions. All this is based on developing stone as the element leading to its technological progress and expansion.
You’ll recall that stone was a fundamental element in Mexica architecture. They made ample use of tezontle, a strong and light volcanic stone, as well as stones such as basalt, andesite, and limestone.
Its mixture of neon colors, artifacts suspended in the air, fast movements, and even its sounds portray a futuristic world.
All these elements are present in the cyber-stone genre, a term coined by the Lienzo company to describe this combination of stone with futuristic technology in Aztech Forgotten Gods.
“The interesting twist that we put on it is to show how these people refined stone to a level that we couldn’t have even imagined, in a universe combining the past with the futurism shown in its architecture,” says Guillermo Vizcaíno, writer and narrative designer at Lienzo, who’s in charge of public relations and marketing.
The first efforts made by Mexican companies in the video game industry took place in Mexico City in the 1990s.
Over time, this sector has grown as a driving force in generating jobs and economic growth at national level.
However, Mexico is not yet listed as a major developer of AAA video games (games with large development and marketing budgets).
On the contrary, it’s a major consumer, leading the Latin American market with approximately 70 million players in 2018 (85% of the local population), according to data from the 2020 Euromonitor International Report.
Lienzo is a success story from the north of the country, which is dedicated to developing this industry.
Founded in 2012, its first video game was Hunter’s Legacy, released to the public on PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. At the same time, with a lot of effort and strategic planning, they started an ambitious project called Mulaka.
This video game was released in 2018 and based on the Rarámuri people. “It was really the first game that we worked on with a large team, touching on a culture that is very close to us, the Tarahumara. It’s a civilization that we still experience every day because it’s a very lively and very active culture,” Guillermo Vizcaíno says.
For Lienzo, the most logical step was to tackle a mythology that more people in general would know about and that will actually have an impact on the broader Mexican population.
The unique aspects of these Mesoamerican people gave them warlike characteristics, says the lead writer at Lienzo.
“The Aztecs were warriors, conquerors, and we take advantage of this warlike version to make it meaningful,” says Vizcaíno.
The idea is a series of symbolic elements based on Mexica mythology that set the stage for an action-adventure video game. Based on the protagonist’s back story, it can show the different meanings of the mythology and the exchanges made by the Mexica.
Aztech Forgotten Gods will be available in the fall of 2021 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One + Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4 + 5 and PC.
Despite not having been released, there’s a great deal of anticipation for it, due to the success of its predecessor Mulaka.
However, the story doesn’t end there, as it will also be going to the cinema. In 2019, Lienzo entered into a partnership with Impossible Dream Entertainment, a production house based in California, to produce a feature film of the video game.
Future projects from Lienzo, as developers, are aimed at considering a line of “cultural inspirations”.
The idea is for Latin America and, specifically, Mexico to be protagonists in the industry, scrutinizing what makes the country unique, and contributing to strengthening the video game industry in Mexico, says Vizcaíno.
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