By: Derek Yu

On: June 24th, 2009


Aztaka came out on May 7th, and a demo was released a few weeks later. Despite looking like a rather large-scale and polished independent game with painted graphics, the game was released with relatively little fanfare. After playing through the demo recently, I can kind of understand why – though it has its bright moments, I found it to be lackluster overall. Most parts of the demo simply don’t reach quite far enough, or aren’t bold or coherent enough, to be considered great.

The game is a side-scrolling platform game that uses the mouse for attacking, manipulating the environment, and casting spells using a gesture-style system. You also use the mouse to drag around various energies that are left behind in the world, by fallen enemies and from other sources. These energies can be stored in containers or used to solve the majority of the demo’s puzzles. Along the way you can also level up, equip magic items, and drink potions, like in Diablo or other RPG-likes.

It has to be noted that of the demo’s 1.5 gigabytes (!), 800 megabytes are dedicated to the gigantic textures. The graphics are definitely one of the best features of the demo, although they can lack a certain vitality and coherency at times, especially with the characters and enemies. Overall, Aztaka looks pretty good, though, and the levels I played give a wonderful sense of scale, whether you’re running up a temple’s stairs with a vast jungle beneath you or spearing giant bugs deep in an underground cave.

Unfortunately, the overall design seems bland. The combat in the demo was about as dull as you might imagine a side-view version of Diablo to be, and can get unnecessarily frustrating, like when a giant beetle’s ass deals you multiple hits that each take off half your life and you have to restart a level from scratch! The story, which begins with a, in my opinion, very slow-moving and boring scrolling text prologue, doesn’t provide much impetus to move forward, either, and is surprisingly hard to follow at times, despite being simple at heart.

What keeps you going, of course, is the potential to get stronger, to obtain new abilities, items, and spells, and to see the new environments. And yeah, that can actually be enough – by the time the demo ran out (at the end of the Underground Passage), I was interested in playing more. Certainly, the demo got better as it went along, so I’m hopeful that the “Fun Factor” (to unabashedly steal a term from GamePro) continues heading in that direction in the full game ($24.95).

TIGdb: Entry for Aztaka

  • Derek

    Someone wrote a review of the full game which echoes a lot of my sentiments here:

  • Indigon

    Bought it on day 1 since the trailer looked good but was sorry for that – as you said – the game is too bland and focuses more on the dull character development rather than story/quests/gameplay. Played only for 3 hours and left it.

  • Paul Eres

    from what i’m reading about this game i feel it suffers from a lack of playtesting. not that it’s buggy, but playtesting isn’t just to find bugs, it’s to round out rough edges to make it more playable, to gear the game to an audience, finding things that the designer overlooks since it’s his baby and his eye isn’t as objective — i can’t imagine that if the developer(s?) sat down behind people playing this game in real life over and over and see how they reacted to it that they’d have missed the little issues like the story being hard to follow or the gameplay being too repetitive etc.

  • RobF

    I got seriously, seriously bored within 15 minutes. How some folks made it to 3 hours I have no idea.

  • AbsolutelyRightAsAlways


    You hit the nail right on the head. The biggest problem with this game is the pace at which it plays out. For a side scrolling RPG (sorta) it is far too slow. Had the game moved along at lets say the same pace as the Diablo games this probably would have been a far better game. Unfortunately it’s just far too slow to keep one interested in it even when you want to put the time in to grow your character. There just isn’t enough there to hold the gamer – especially a fan of even the light hearted RPG’s (or action/rpg’s). The artwork is pretty decent and the idea is interesting but not enough to capture an audience. This game might be for a person who isn’t familiar with RPG’s though, perhaps an Adventure game fan (Point and Click) would find it more interesting, especially if they’ve never liked action/rpg’s… Still, I don’t know if there’s enough here to hold the player for very long.

  • tomelin

    “demo’s 1.5 gigabytes”

    What. Were. They. THINKING ?!

  • Valkyrie

    I, too, bought the game impulsively after I heard about it.

    Side-scrolling action-RPG?! Fuck, yes!

    Unfortunately, it’s plagued by some bizarre game design choices (having the essence mechanic introduced before I could even use it was extremely frustrating. I must’ve spent ten minutes looking over the manual to see what I was doing wrong), bugs (none of the people in the second city will talk with me, save the main quest guy), and overall slowness. Really disappointing.

  • Paul Eres

    yeah. i think that 1.5 gb demo thing warrants more than one (!). perhaps a (!!!!!!!!!!!!????????)

  • AmnEn

    After I saw the beautiful art of the game, I was hyped. Luckily (for me) they provided a Demo as well and that quickly got me off my hyped status. Such a pity the rest of the game is not up to the polish of the Art.

  • Indigon

    Yeah I should have waited for the demo as well. 25$ down the drain :)

  • Jonathan Mercier

    Hi Everyone,

    We are aware that we did some mistakes (with the saving/death/respawn system in particular) but we are fixing these.I’m also sorry to read that lots of you seem disapointed, but I still believe the game has the potential to please lots of old-school gamers. If you want to give me a hand improving the game, comments and tips on how to improve Aztaka are more than welcomed.

  • Devlin Bentley

    I bought the game and have played through most of it. Combat needs a bit more “spice” in it to keep it interesting, it does grow over time a bit in that you learn new techniques, but it still is rather repetitive. Also the story does need improvement, for instance I felt that the character’s spirit assistant/excuse to cast magic spells, could have been fleshed out a lot more.

  • Nyogtha


    “…I still believe the game has the potential to please lots of old-school gamers…”

    Most of the players here CAN appreciate old-school games; that’s not the issue. The generally disappointed reviews seem to be stemming from game design issues such as quests, etc. By the way, the art direction for the game looks AMAZING…although 800 MB?! Insane!!

    The key is to keep it fast-paced, action-packed and engaging…along with multiple endings and different solutions to quests (no MMO-esque Kill 10 Monsters quests, please!)

  • newschooler

    I’m sorry I’m not old school enough for this game.

  • Sparky

    I think it’s commendable that the team was able to ship a game of this scope at all. It seems like a very daunting undertaking.

    I hope the game will be able to change to address people’s concerns, and become the quality title it deserves to be.

    Best wishes.

  • Robin

    Where are the game options for setting sound, screen size maybe? or at least saving a game before quitting? Thanks.