It’s not easy to stand out as an indie cyberpunk game these days, but Rendezvous by Pendopo Creations hopes a more personal flair will do just that. The Indonesian developers give a new cultural perspective on a popular genre in an old-school way.
Rendezvous is a 2.5D action-puzzle adventure that puts players in the shoes of Setyo, a former criminal. The story takes place in the year 2064 when Setyo is forced to re-enter his former life to save his sister. He must travel from Bay City, his new home, back to Neo-Surabaya and will have to face both his enemies and his past.
The gameplay for Rendezvous is very easy to pick up, and fans of side-scrolling adventure games will feel right at home. Players are restricted to side-to-side movement but can interact with the world around them as they progress. I initially felt that discovery was being hampered by this simpler approach, but as I got deeper into things I noticed there were new items and approaches to objectives right in front of me that I had glossed over.
Progressing through Rendezvous is simple. Moving through zones to discover items that are either needed to progress the story or give clues as to how to solve in-game puzzles like safe combinations. Some items can be used to access new locations, like the vents in a building, or there are items like bandages to heal and weapons to use to attack if you choose.
Thankfully, Rendezvous doesn’t limit players to simply making their way through the game with brute force alone. There is the option to try to sneak around enemies and take hidden routes to add to the suspense and challenge. Or, if you are anything like me, you can just charge in head first and ask questions later. I liked the variety since older side-scrolling adventures can often feel like a paint-by-numbers approach.
Combat is not as fluid as I would like, however. In a pixel art game set in 2.5D environments, I wasn’t expecting Soulslike combat, but hitboxes on enemies were a bit tricky to get the hang of at first. Once I got the hang of things it wasn’t too bad, but the timing and distance from enemies do take a minute to get used to.
Rendezvous isn’t a game about combat, though. It’s a game about a brother having to dive into his past to save his sister. Pendopo talked about how important family is in Indonesian culture, so that being the main focus of the game was interesting. Rendezvous doesn’t pretend like family relationships can’t be fractured and damaged, which makes the story even more impactful. It doesn’t shy away from how brutal life can be either, which only adds to the authenticity of the story.
What really stuck with me the most about Rendezvous was the incredible art design. The main city of the game, Neo-Surabaya, is a look at what the Indonesian city of Surabaya might look like 40 years from now. There are your typical cyberpunk hallmarks of neon lights and fancy technology, but there are also local foods and slang scattered throughout that make it feel authentic. Every building, sign, and character all have a unique pixel design that is reminiscent of the old NES era, but dynamic lighting and the 2.5D approach really make every single visual component come to life.
There were moments where Rendezvous‘ old-school approach left me frustrated, specifically when it came to not having a map to help when I got lost or some outdated combat mechanics that occasionally felt a little too simplistic. The environments and storytelling more than made up for those moments, however, and made Rendezvous a thoroughly enjoyable and unique cyberpunk experience.
Rendezvous releases on April 11th on Steam.
Incredibly personal environments and storytelling more than make up for some slightly outdated mechanics to make Rendezvous a thoroughly enjoyable and unique cyberpunk experience.