Review: Rendezvous – The Future is Grim

Mixing cyberpunk style with Indonesian culture, Rendezvous is an interesting blend of pixel art, platforming gameplay, and synthwave music. Developed by Pendopo Creations, the futuristic theme fits nicely in a mystery noir setting. If you’re looking to uncover capital corruption, explore Neo-Surabaya, solve puzzles, battle agents, and find your lost sister, Rendezvous may be for you.

Let’s start off with the worst parts of Rendezvous: the story. The opening scene shows you, Setyo, involved in some heavy events. Having to kill someone for what group you’re in. Possibly a group of undercover heroes who have to solve problems the difficult way, you start the game after these traumatic events. Working as a mundane security guard, the past starts catching up with you as a former coworker of this underground group needs your help assessing a problem that involves your sister. Being worried about her and not hearing from her after you sent allowance money, you hesitantly make your way back to Neo-Surabaya. Once in Indonesia, you are sent on a wild goose chase: running back and forth through the limited scenes asking questions and getting limited answers. While exploring the last known location of your sister, private agents start hounding you down, and soon you realize the situation is worse than you think. 

Screenshot 1441
Well said, evil mega-corp lady, well said.

Perhaps the way I’m describing the story is selling you in on checking Rendezvous out. I hate to say this, but this description is a lot more understandable than the way the game actually presented information. A lot of Rendezvous’ story is forced on you, making a lot of the narration feel choppy and incoherent. There are plot holes and an obvious padding out of the story where you know what the end outcome is well before you actually get to the point. An example, right in the beginning, you’re traveling with your friend and they say they need to check out their leads, and Setyo replies he needs to check out his, but it’s not explained what leads he’s actually talking about. Setyo’s persona is indeterminable. Is he a war-torn person who’s mostly tired and been through hard times? I’m not sure. Most of his reactions are passive, and the voice acting is bland and stale (more on that later). 

As bland as the dialog is, the gameplay in Rendezvous is almost equally as bland. What starts as interesting puzzles (really only mildly interesting, as they’re mostly brute-force number codes) boil down to tedious fetch quests. You’ll find yourself wandering back and forth, talking to the same people you’ve been talking to previously. The problems with Rendezvous’ puzzles is that a lot of them have issues with sequence control. Some actions aren’t available to the player until you perform other actions. For example: you can select to inspect a fuse box that has a fuse, and one that has a missing fuse. You know that you need to switch the fuses to see what’s in the dark bathroom, but the game won’t let you switch them until the agents show up and you need to find another way out.

Screenshot 1442
Here is agent, laying down on the job. You can’t tackle me when you’re glitched on the ground, silly agent.

Most of Rendezvous has controller support, which is probably the preferred way to play. Trying to use the keyboard is a jumble of randomly chosen keys to use. The one action that is not mapped to a controller (I was using a PlayStation 5 controller) was the objective system. In reality, the objective system is a complete throw-away and doesn’t help with understanding the story or progression, but can be helpful to glance at if you’re confused on what you’re supposed to be doing. The only way to bring up the objective list is to press “J” on the keyboard, bringing up a phone screen with a list of finished and current tasks. Instead of a completely different screen, the developers could have listed only the current task on the top right on the screen, or have it slide down every time you stop moving. 

The combat system in Rendezvous feels as unnecessary as the objectives. Attacking and battling feels finicky and unsatisfactory, where the opponent you’re attacking doesn’t react to your hits and constantly attacks you. The loading screens in Rendezvous suggest that any attack could be avoided with a dodge roll, but the enemies don’t give you enough time to react. You barely attack others anyway, so the simplest option is to brute force your way through them. 

Screenshot 1437
It’s a shame how much effort that was put in the set design and the rest of the game is mediocre.

Rendezvous, at least the review copy I was given, is almost unplayable. I had to stop because I reached an impassable bug that wouldn’t progress the game. There is a point where you need to sneak up on the agents and take the agent down by a stealth attack. Unfortunately the game has the agents standing in one spot facing each other, so there is no way to sneak up on one of them. If you take one of the enemies down, you have to dodge roll away from the other agent so they stop chasing you. If you’re able to do that, there is no option to perform a sneaky takedown, but the only way to access the room is to take the enemy down. You could leave and explore the whole area after this, but nothing triggers because the game is waiting for you to take the last agent down. Rendezvous does not prepare itself for all user’s possible actions, making most of the game feel constrictive and unreasonably forced. 

It’s disappointing that Rendezvous’ functionality and story is so poor because the art and set design make a very engaging world. The pixel art mixed with various levels of depth and various lighting and reflective surfaces complete a whole futuristic vibe that suits Neo-Surabaya. The only downside I would say is the user interface, which is standard and tacky compared to the cool features of the world. There is also a lack of character drawings when speaking to all characters. I can understand if some people you talk to are generic and not important, but it seems strange to see things dull out when the other person is talking.

Screenshot 1430
While some cutscenes are sweet and sentimental, others are basic and bland.

While the audio in Rendezvous fits the theme of a cyberpunk world, most background audio is set on a 30 second loop that becomes a monotonous ringing drone. The people talking on the radio in the background add to the environmental sound design of a bustling city, but trying to read dialog can be difficult when you’re listening to someone else talk. The voice overs shouldn’t be included in the game. While in theory they bring the level of production quality up, there are only some small cutscenes that have voice overs. These voice overs lack expression and aren’t phrased on how the dialog is written. Setyo is voiced by someone who seemed to have recently woken up and phrases concerned questions like bland statements. Instead of improving the quality of the game the voice overs ruin the experience further.

In summary: Poor gameplay and story telling in a highly stylized and interesting world.

Jordan played Rendezvous on PC with a code provided by the developer.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments