Game: My Friend Pedro
Consoles: PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
(A review copy of My Friend Pedro was supplied by the publisher.)
What do you get when you mix Equilibrium’s shootouts, The Matrix’s bullet time, John Wick’s arsenal, and a snarky banana? If you answered My Friend Pedro or that weird LSD fueled laser tag match you had back in college then you’re right. Developed by DeadToast Entertainment, My Friend Pedro is a high-flying, 2D action game broken up across roughly 5 chapters and 40 levels. Even with a few, minor misfires, My Friend Pedro is a fantastic experience from start to finish.
You play an unnamed, masked individual who wakes up with no memory of who he is or what he’s doing. Guided solely by a talking banana named Pedro, you’ll blast your way against hordes of tracksuit wearing gangsters, armored gamers, and futuristic soldiers. At first glance, My Friend Pedro’s story may seem like nothing more than an excuse to gun down hordes of nameless bad guys. Yet, DeadToast Entertainment attempts to offer a deeper more compelling plot once the final chapter kicks in.
This is where My Friend Pedro’s gun jams, as its big twist fails to stick the landing leading to an awkward and rushed ending. The game simply doesn’t devote enough time to developing the world or cast of characters. It’s a shame too because there are some intriguing concepts established, but nothing is built on the narrative foundation. Some of this has to do with the game’s length, as it only takes a few hours to complete. Trying to stuff all of your big emotional moments into the finale only serves to highlight how underwhelming the overall plot is.
But it’s the moment-to-moment gameplay that will push you to finish line. Players traverse the stylish 2D world via a plethora of movement options including running, rolling, wall jumping, swinging, and even skateboarding. All of which can be done either in real time or slo-mo, allowing for stylish, pinpoint maneuvers. Understanding the game’s physics and how to quickly move from one fight to the next is critical to your survival.
Environments are masterfully designed to keep you moving at a breakneck pace. Jumping out of a window, onto a zip line, and landing onto a skateboard gives My Friend Pedro a glorious sense of momentum. Every aspect of the world syncs together, allowing a skilled player to skillfully move the world without ever slowing down. This speed is only halted by a handful of awkward boss fights and platforming levels that feel out of place with the game’s kinetic design.
If you come for the movement, you’ll stay for the stylish gunfights. In its purest form, combat simply revolves around shooting people and dodging incoming bullets. While it may sound simple on paper, My Friend Pedro enhances the experience by adding a variety of different weapons, techniques, and enemy types. The slow-motion Focus mechanic allows skilled users to take down multiple foes before they even touch the ground. However, it’s not there just to make you look good, as enemies will often gang up and try to overwhelm with sheer numbers.
All hope isn’t lost since users can independently target two enemies at once when dual wielding weapons. Combining this with Focus produces a number of memorable moments that will make you feel unequivocally badass. Bolstering this is a collection of smaller additions such as explosive gas canisters, being able to kick objects at enemies, and ricocheting bullets off specific surfaces or frying pans. Melding this all together crafts a brutal ballet of bullets, blood, and bludgeonings.
Every action set piece is an elaborate puzzle that can only be solved with your guns. Understanding how to deconstruct every scenario and maximize your killing potential is incredibly rewarding. Players are given scores at the end of missions based on the number of foes killed, the methods used, overall time, and a variety of other factors. This encourages multiple playthroughs, where memorizing enemy locations is key to climbing the leaderboards.
Curiously, My Friend Pedro lacks any type of New Game Plus or additional modes. Instead, any replay value comes from improving your score, which is a bit of a bummer. This title has such an entertaining combat system, I wish there was more to do after the 3-4 hour campaign finishes. This makes My Friend Pedro a short, but sweet experience that doesn’t try to be anything more than a zany, chaotic action game.
My Friend Pedro Takeaways
DeadToast Entertainment has crafted a unique, absorbing action game that is exploding with awe-inspiring violence. Battling your way through hordes of goons never gets old, especially once you get a handle for My Friend Pedro’s combat system. Despite the lackluster story and additional modes, this 4-hour adventure is some of the most fun I’ve had in a 2D side-scroller. My Friend Pedro is an unapologetic love-letter to every absurd Hollywood shootout.
So reload your guns and practice those one-liners because this game lands a bullseye.