After the debut trailer for their upcoming game Ecumene Aztec drew widespread criticism for its less-than-realistic depiction of its subject matter, indie developer Gianscraft has promised fans that they will strive to make the final product “more historically accurate”.
A third-person survival action RPG à la Assassin’s Creed featuring “a strong narrative, RPG progression with blood sacrifices, gritty combat, stealth gameplay, and crafting” (via a statement provided by developer Gianscraft to IGN), Ecumene Aztec puts players in the shoes of an Aztec warrior as he attempts to defy the Spanish conquistadors during their 16th century conquest of the Mesoamerican empire.
“The newcomers from another world, whom we thought were gods, turned out to be just a greedy men,” read the game’s original Steam description, as written from the perspective of the game’s as-of-yet-unnamed playable. “Their blasphemous attack infuriated our deities. Now with the help of Huītzilōpōchtli – patron of war, and Quetzalcoatl – the great protector, I will stop the enemy and free my brothers.”
“The fights take place in my home, which is one of the Aztec cities,” it continued. “Our possessions were plundered, our huts set on fire, and many of my brethren died defending themselves against the sacrilege. Fortunately, I can still save some of the captured.”
“It is the jungle that will allow me to prepare myself to fight the invader,” the warrior further declared. “I know these areas. It is my home. The place where I grew up. I will use whatever the gods send me. I wasn’t born a warrior, but for a proper bloody sacrifice, Huītzilōpōchtli – the lord of war, and Quetzalcoatl – the great teacher, will lead me to become as silent as a serpent, as strong as a jaguar, and as swift as an eagle.”
On May 31st, Gianscraft released the game’s premiere trailer to the public.
However, rather than widespread praise and applause, the reveal of Ecumene Aztec – and particularly the coverage of its announcement by IGN – was instead met with a deluge of criticism towards both the game’s historical inaccuracies and its perceived glorification (or, at the very least, aversion to the reality) of the Aztec’s more uncouth social practices.
“Game is called Aztec,” observed @CogitoEdu. “The characters look Maya. They’re in the Yucatan jungle far away from highlands Tenochtitlan was in. The cities look like ruins from 2023 and the Spanish are wearing heavy armour in the jungle.”
“I wish I could be more excited for this but man, did they make (what I assume to be) Tenochtitlan ugly as hell,” lamented @Trey_Explainer of the game’s art direction. “Spaniards unanimously described it as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Incredibly clean and filled with color.”
“His pistol is a flintlock which wasn’t invented until 200 years after this,” noted @fefquest. “There were maybe 500 Spaniards under Cortez as opposed to 100 gazillion other natives attacking the Aztecs cuz they were comic book villains. Not watching the rest of this trailer, I stopped here”.
“Neat idea,” said @itsdanielberki. “Nonetheless, if this is set during the fall of Tenochtitlan, the player should be primarily fighting against Tlaxcalans as they formed the bulk of the attacking forces.”
“Also why does Tenochtitlan appear so bleak?” he added. “It was one of the grandest cities of the time!”
@NotK_Us inquired, “Does this game include the 100,000+ allies the Spaniards had when they sacked the Aztec Empire? Can we role play the Spaniards sacking the Aztec and putting an end to their mass sacrifices?
“So you get to play the villain this time?” questioned @thebencheah. “Will you partake in slavery and human sacrifices too? And why is it called a first person game when the video shows a third person perspective?
“Will my Native American ancestors the Aztecs be engaging in ritual human sacrifice so horrific even the Spaniards (my other ancestors) were horrified at these ‘charnel houses’?” @LaReinaCreole pushed back. “Asking for a friend.”
In response to this backlash, Gianscraft would take to the game’s official Steam page on June 2nd to inform players that they would be taking steps to address a number of their complaints.
“You will be able to choose to join conquistadors and fight the caste of sacriface-making priests or to join aztec warriors and repel the newcomers”, the developer detailed of the changes they would be making to their game. “Tenochtitlan will be reworked. The protagonist will find both allies and enemies between his own people and newcomers.”
Ultimately, Gianscraft closed out their update with the promise that “We will try our best to make the game more historically accurate.”
Following this update, Gianscraft likewise changed Ecumene Aztec‘s ‘first-person’ Steam description to reflect the game’s new direction.
“The Great Tenochtitlan is on fire,” it now reads. “Like many of us, I do not support what the caste of barbarian priests has been doing to us for years. Newcomers from the new world decided to put an end to blood sacrifices by allying themselves with the nearby tribes.”
“Now that the war has broken out, I must choose whether I will join the compatriots and repel the invader or the newcomers who want to liberate us from the priests who kill our own brothers and children,” it continues. “It is the jungle that will allow me to prepare myself. I know these areas. It is my home. The place where I grew up. I will use whatever the gods send me.”
“I wasn’t born a warrior,” it concludes, “but for a proper sacrifice, Huītzilōpōchtli – the lord of war, and Quetzalcoatl – the great teacher, will lead me to become as silent as a serpent, as strong as a jaguar, and as swift as an eagle.”
Ecumene Aztec is currently set to release sometime in 2025.