Rendezvous: Shadows of the Past – First Impressions

Rendezvous: Shadows of the Past is the prologue to the upcoming 2.5D Cyber-Noir Action-Adventure by Pendopo Studios, set in a Cyberpunk version of Surabaya. In this game, you play as Setyo, a security guard and former detective who tries to leave the past behind, drinking his worries away after every shift – but sadly, he can’t escape the memories that haunt him, which is why Setyo now has to quit his mundane life in Bay City and return to Neo-Surabaya to confront his past and help out his sister. Today, I wanted to share my first impressions of the demo/prologue here and dive into my experience with this game. The state of the prologue, however, may not represent the full release, so I hope that some of this feedback helps the developers out and that some changes are made. You can try out the demo yourself right here!

The game’s setting is interesting, combining a Crime Noir style story with a relatively futuristic (and much less Dystopian) Cyberpunk setting. The artists went for a somewhat grainy Pixel-Art style for the graphics with pretty lighting and somewhat in-depth pictures of characters in cutscenes and dialogues, portraying them in the process and adding some character to the otherwise faceless characters inhabiting the world of Rendezvous. Overall, it’s an incredibly pretty game and I was somewhat excited for it as I like the idea of “Cyber-Noir”, a setting that you see from time to time but that requires a lot of work to be pulled off correctly.

As you begin your day and make your way towards your shift, you come across a few quests and the like but nothing necessarily too out of the ordinary. Attacks consume stamina or ammo, depending on whether you’re in melee or ranged combat. You can run or even sneak around to make your way through the world. It’s all relatively simple. With one simple button press, you can find your goals/quests located in a single menu, while another button press reveals items that you may need for quests or to heal yourself up or recover some stamina. What I didn’t like, however, was that running consumes stamina even outside of combat, making traversing the world somewhat tedious. On top of that, quests are incredibly linear with no sidequests available to explore the world a little bit more, meaning that you’re often sent from one end to another, thus making the travelling a bit more of a problem again.

Overall, I found Rendezvous’ prologue/demo incredibly frustrating to play with as punching robots may stun them briefly but they’ll strike you back, making combat incredibly difficult and punishing, even though it shouldn’t really be. At least, it often feels like the game wants us to fight in certain situations as running away isn’t necessarily an option or as running away results in death. Losing health is also somewhat permanent once you’re out of heal items. I made it into one room at the later stages of the prologue and had really low health when I arrived. The game saved and I now had incredibly low health whenever I respawned, meaning that I was dead if I got hit by just one attack. Even the “stun blade” or the taser couldn’t help me unless I got lucky, somehow. Combat felt odd and out of place, to be fair, and when you engage in it, it’s incredibly clunky and not well thought of. The stamina system doesn’t add much to your experience either.

And well, there are a few puzzles in the game but a lot of times, they are incredibly obtuse. In one case, I needed to get a ladder to climb into a vent. For that ladder, however, I needed a bolt cutter to remove the chain attached to the ladder. Hence, I needed to find the tool cabinet located in a weird spot in some hallway where it didn’t really make sense – and I needed to find a code for said cabinet while worrying about robots that may kill me at any point in time. The cause for my frustration here was that the solution to the “puzzle” of solving this cabinet’s code is incredibly stupid. (Spoilers!) I had to look up a video for this section and then later learned that the code they used was found on panels at the walls. This is the equivalent of writing down your password and sticking it to your computer but instead of a post-it note, you have huge panels with the code on them. Other puzzles felt interesting and unique with one requiring you to remember the layout of the vents to guide an electronic mouse through them and find the room you’re looking for. Another one, however, required you to translate dots and lines on a painting using a “morse code” translation note found in the same room. Again, it’s a password on the wall but this time, you’re supposed to encrypt it… using a note that is lying around in the same room. It broke what little immersion there was.

At last, there is some voice acting in the game but it just doesn’t seem good at all. In some cutscenes, it seems as if they used an AI-generated voice for some of it that is incredibly quiet. Other cutscenes are just bad quality-wise with no emotion at all. I think the game would have benefitted if cutscenes weren’t voiced at all. Similarly, the game also has a lot of typos in the dialogue options, making some of the sentences barely readable. I found this kind of off-putting.

Overall, I’ll have to say that I didn’t like this demo at all, even though the setting is interesting. The typos and some of the design choices made me not like the game. The combat was incredibly frustrating, and at times it was hard to not just end it prematurely. The demo’s only 40 minutes long, so if you wanna give it a try yourself, feel free to. The full release is coming “soon”, so make sure to wishlist Rendezvous if you’re interested in a Crime Noir story set in a Cyberpunk world – hopefully with fewer issues than this demo.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

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