Try/Buy/Wait: My Friend Pedro
Playing My Friend Pedro feels like being Batman, only with more bananas.
There’s an exhilarating rush as you twirl around in mid air performing cartwheels of death like the skeletons of dark souls. A wide array of weapons lets you bring your foes down with the poise of a passionately dancing ballerina, who happens to have a shotgun. It made me feel like the star of a show of murder, bullets, dancing and bananas. The combat’s uniqueness and the jump choreography made me feel like I was dancing a song of death.
The gameplay consists of guns, a bullet time effect that recharges as you get more kills, spin dodges, jumping, and a lock on system in a 2D setting. The lock on system, used to shoot at two people at once, is what really sets this game apart for me. Although the game doesn’t need full directional movement to shine, there are points where you will use different axes, such as the above shown motorcycle segment. The lock-on and bullet time combo well, but you’ll know you’ve mastered the game when you can skip the bullet time and lock-on string kill in full speed.
Yet that is just the beginning, as your arsenal holds not only your weapons, but also your environment. Barrels smash those big ol’ baddie guys, and conveniently are also fun to ride on. And the ricochet system used on certain levels let you satisfyingly snipe some enemies in those hard to reach places.
But what is the point of the game? Obviously, to kill, combo, and improve scores.
And the story? It is really not much to worry about. We are really there just to kill, because you like that and you are a monster, right? You wake up, see a banana, and need to kill everything in your way, and maybe along the way find out who you are, and who Pedro is.
The beginning levels are well designed and others stand out well, but some become too large. It feels like in a first run it would be impossible to maintain a combo consistently with all the puzzles and obstacles they have…which, perhaps, is the point. Although still fun, when you see your combo go from high to nothing because of layout, then it feels less like your fault and more the design’s. Then again, it’s probably still mostly due to player skill, so I can’t complain too much about my Bs dropping to Cs, big ol’ OOF.
Despite all the praise, I recommend that you play this game in short bursts rather than all in one go due to an occasional “samey” feel. I feel a little dumb for saying it, but taking breaks is a good way to go, so try 3-5 levels at a time. Some levels differentiate themselves with either bosses or puzzles only, but my point still stands on 3-5 levels, unless you get hooked.
Now by “samey”, what I mean is that once you start getting more guns, you start to feel that your old guns are less rewarding when the newer ones can get the job done more efficiently. But to me, this is just a design-trick: getting new shiny toys that scream “Hey look! We have more guns! Use ’em ‘kay?” just feels dull. By then the drive that got me to that point in the game – the song of death, the cascade of bullets, the flow of beautifully slowed duets with my helpless prey – became lost as “Oh, here’s Shotgun Guy #22” became the standard. I loved it when I would shoot two people at the same time, I loved when it took TWO pistols to tango, but I felt the love dwindle away when I found myself forced to rely on shooting a guy with my auto rifle because it was obviously easier. Simply put, the game didn’t enforce its puzzle-solving aspect that would require fancy gunplay and movements, and that made it lose its charm in the long-haul.
The last two bosses are outstanding, and segments of the final levels are grand and spectacular and blood filled, highlighting that walking genocide feeling.
I beat the game in just under five hours, for $19.99 game (Currently $16.99 until July 9th). With multiple difficulties (I played on normal), you can customize how much challenge you want in your fun.
The Music is okay. Nothing stood out to me as pumped-up workout music, or awkward and out of place.
VERDICT: TRY, but leaning to BUY
Look up some gameplay, play it at a friend’s house. If you dig the movement and combat, buy it, maybe wait for a sale. The game puts me in mind of how wonderfully fun Hotline Miami and Katana Zero were, and though my playing it in bursts comment would suggest waiting for a sale, I don’t regret my purchase.
My Friend Pedro was developed by DeadToast Entertainment on the Unity engine and was published by Devolver Digital. The game released for PC and Nintendo Switch on June 20, 2019 for $19.99 USD.