Every good empire is built on a foundation of strategy and violence.

Aztez is one of the more unique genre crossover games you’re likely to run into, combining turn-based strategy at the head of the Aztec empire with side-scrolling, hard-hitting beat-em-up action against the empire’s many enemies.

Aztez

Developed by Team Colorblind, a new indie studio founded by two former members of Flashbang Studios, Aztez promises to offer two very distinct gameplay experiences in one extremely stylish package. On one side of the coin is a turn-based strategy game that puts you in control of the ancient Aztec empire, which you must expand and maintain in the face of challenges that will change with every new game. Individual games won’t eat up much of your time, according to the developers – we’re not looking at the next Civilization here – but different events will occur, different obstacles will be placed in your path and different spoils will be taken with each new playthrough, making for a game the team says will be “hugely replayable.”

Every empire has its malcontents, and that’s where the action begins, as you put down violent uprisings in side-scrolling beat-em-up brawls. In this mode you’ll have access to four unique weapon sets and square off against a range of enemies based on Aztec archetypes, like Jaguar warriors, Nobles and Combat Priests. Your avatar will be customizable, and you’ll actually be able to wear the gear you take off fallen enemies.

Aztez

I’ve played a pre-release build of the combat component of the game, and it is most definitely meaty. Every landed blow results in a satisfyingly thick, heavy thud or crack, like Mr. T punching Rocky Balboa right in the kisser, and the copious sprays of crimson blood are actually quite stunning against the game’s otherwise black-and-white graphics. It’s not “realistic” any sense, but it’s most definitely (and satisfyingly) brutal.

Aztez’s monochromatic visual design is striking, and the highly-stylized characters move with a smooth fluidity. It looks great, it sounds great, and if Aztez can pull all the pieces together and come up with a strategy component that’s as good as the brawling appears to be, it will be a very exciting game indeed. Look for it to come out later this year for the PC and Mac.