I’ve had a LOT of interest in My Friend Pedro ever since I first saw the GIFs for it show up on my Twitter feed a few years back. I mean, the game looked like it was packed to the brim with exciting and outrageous action-packed antics, so I instantly wanted to play it. One thing always kept me particularly intrigued though: how would the game actually play? It all looked so co-ordinated and streamlined in the GIFs with the set pieces feeling like they almost COULDN’T be a part of gameplay without some form of QTE or something, so I had to know how it played.
I’m glad to say that it turns out that you DO actually get to pull off all of the slick moves yourself, and yes, it’s a HELL of a lot of fun to do so. However, there is a learning curve in place that’ll see you potentially struggle early on as you learn the ins-and-outs of My Friend Pedro’s zany yet intricate gameplay mechanics. When you do figure out everything though? You’re in for a good time.
In a game like My Friend Pedro you don’t expect the narrative to be the star of the show, though its bizarre nature will keep you intrigued throughout. Basically, you’ve lost your memory, and the only person… well…. ‘thing’ to guide you along is a friendly banana named Pedro. He leads you on an adventure that sees you gunning down lots and lots of baddies in creative and often surreal ways as you look to find out what’s really going on. I told you it was bizarre, but it keeps the story going and even adds a fun bit of context to all of the thrilling-killing.
Gameplay-wise, My Friend Pedro is all about blasting through levels, killing everything in sight, doing a little bit of platforming and some light puzzle solving, and then repeating the process on each subsequent level. Sounds like your typical action experience, right? Well, it’s not; My Friend Pedro amps everything up tenfold by ramming in a TON of unique and destructive scenarios involving the likes of motorbikes, skateboards, all sorts of guns, and frying pans. It also allows you to slow down time to make the most of your weaponry and it ramps up the player’s manoeuvrability to the max in order for you to keep up with each wild situation you find yourself in. It’s frantic, chaotic, and ultimately destructive, but it’s a whole lot of fun to actually play.
Whilst it is a blast to play though, there is a learning curve to My Friend Pedro that’s based around its controls – for me, my first thirty minutes or so with the game felt very fiddly. Between running around, aiming and shooting multiple weapons at a time (and using them effectively within the environment), spinning around to avoid incoming bullets, and slowing down time in-between it all, there’s quite a lot to learn and keep on top of. The thing is, My Friend Pedro rewards the player for playing with style and utilising everything around them, so trying to figure out the controls and feel like you’re playing the game how it’s meant to be (or in a way that’s as awesome as the aforementioned GIFs looked) can be pretty difficult. I’ll admit, it did have me wondering if I was going to have a good time with the game at first or if I was just going to be left disappointed that it didn’t seem to be clicking with me.
When it does finally click though and you start stringing together stylish actions with ease? Wow, it feels good. Whether it’s kicking a skateboard in an enemy’s face before blasting them with bullets, bouncing bullets off whatever surfaces you can find to take out an unaware enemy, sniping a foe from up-close to give their skull a nice pop, or spinning out of control and blasting enemies with non-stop gunfire – My Friend Pedro is simply full of fun action-packed moments that become easy to pull off. Admittedly, it always maintains this slightly floaty feeling that can feel a little unnatural, but it becomes so intuitive to play and kept a wide grin on my face as I blasted through each level in the game.
Speaking of levels, there are forty to play through in total that are set across six different locales, with each bringing with it new gameplay mechanics, weapons, and puzzling elements to keep things fresh. Whilst the change of environment always ensures you’re got something new to see, the way in which the levels tie in new scenarios means there’s always something unique to do too. Each level is bite-sized and also never lasts for too long, so you’re constantly finding yourself progressing and moving on to new and exciting things.
The levels themselves have a sense of replayability too thanks to the fact that you’re scored based upon your performance, with things like kill-combos and the style of your kills seeing you ramp up those high scores. You’ll get ratings in a similar style of Devil May Cry and hitting those S-ranks (‘silky smooth’) should certainly incite you to play in as spectacular a way as possible. Admittedly, I’ve never been one for chasing high scores, but the fact that My Friend Pedro’s levels are so fun, short, and full of zany moments did see me coming back for more.
Whilst it is a lot of fun to play, My Friend Pedro did have a few areas that missed the mark. Some levels could be a little repetitive in design for example; for the most part they’re consistent with their thrills and spills, but every so often one comes along where the platforming and killing could feel a little dull and hitting combos doesn’t feel so satisfying. The short length may put off some gamers too, with the game easily beaten in just a few hours if you’re not into score chasing. Then there’s the aforementioned controls – whilst I got used to them, I’ve heard from friends who struggled so much that it put them off the game completely. Ultimately, it comes down to player preference, but these little niggles could be a factor in just how much you enjoy My Friend Pedro.
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC