Aztec: The Curse in the Heart of the City of Gold

1999 Cryo / France Telecom Multimedia
Designed by Luc Lefebvre
Reviewed 2000 December 4

Rating +0 Linearity straight
Reasonability deductive Connectivity moderate
Difficulty easy Relevance strong
Interface 1st 360 simple Real-time minor

a.k.a. The Sacred Amulet

You are a young Aztec hunter, Little Serpent, living in a little village just outside Tenochtitlan, just a few years before Cortes comes to town. One day, while hunting, you witness the murder of a noble. The murderer returns with soldiers just in time to frame you. You escape, but the soldiers capture your parents. It's up to you to prove your innocence. But there's more to it than that: the murder is part of a powerful conspiracy which threatens the entire realm. You must unravel the conspiracy to free yourself.

The story is the strength of the game. It is a believable tale of palace intrigue. It is well paced, too. It progresses steadily, drawing in more characters and more developments, but without overwhelming you. It's a surprisingly long story for one CD.

There are many interesting characters from various walks of the Aztec life. None are intricately drawn, since you don't really spend much time with anyone, yet they each have their own personality, their own quirks and attitudes. Taken together, they bring the city to life.

On the game side, there's not much there. The game guides you to where you have to go, using Little Serpent's thoughts. Objects are used for their intended purposes, in obvious circumstances. There are a few drop-in puzzles, usually well integrated into the story, but they're all very easy. The only things that slow you down are the conversations and your own encyclopædia investigations (see below).

The authors went to great effort to present a realistic recreation of Tenochtitlan, and they didn't skimp on the presentation. The graphics are beautiful. Beyond the æsthetic, the locales are well designed, very believable. The interface is simple and clean, the basic point and click, with a pop-up inventory. My only complaint is that the music was repetitive, but there's only so much you can cram onto one CD.

Aztec is intended to be educational, with an in-game mini-encyclopædia on Aztec life and culture. The absorbing story shepherds you through many aspects of Aztec life, making the learning painless. So it succeeds as edutainment. As a game, however, it is too simple-minded to provide a challenge. It does what it intends to do well, but it doesn't intend to be an adventure game.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.