My Friend Pedro review: You’ve got a friend in me

Photo Courtesy of DeadToast Entertainment
Photo Courtesy of DeadToast Entertainment /

Filled with snappy action and bursting with a zany personality, My Friend Pedro is an absolute treat, even if it can be a bit frustrating at times.

Title: My Friend Pedro
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (version reviewed), PC
Release Date: June 20, 2019

Every now and again, there comes along a game that delivers the exact kind of experience you’re craving. My Friend Pedro, a 2D-action game from developer DeadToast Entertainment, satisfies my particular appetite of the month.

Perhaps the recent release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (a movie that was, to put it briefly and not-so briefly, A Lot™) and the overall renaissance of Keanu Reeves (aka the love of my life) gave me the desire to play a stylish shooter that makes me feel cooler than I’ll ever be. In a litany of many essential ways, My Friend Pedro fulfills that desire, albeit with a few flaws.

The game follows a simple premise: You play as a no-name man wearing a mask that awakens to the call of a sentient banana named Pedro and must go on a crusade to destroy all the evil that lurks in the criminal underground. Indeed, while My Friend Pedro is fundamentally just an action game revolving around shooting baddies in the face, it exudes its own (lovably) deranged charm.

Aside from the silly premise of the aforementioned Pedro — who is like if Navi from Ocarina of Time had been dipped into radioactive waste and left in solitary confinement for a decade — there are plenty of outrageous and humorous sprinkles throughout.

While gun violence is the crux of the game, it isn’t trying to take itself too seriously.

You’ll stumble upon silly conversations from enemies, deflect bullets off a frying pan, and fight your way through a sewer filled with violent-game addicts (including people dressed as knights and charge at you with their swords), to name some examples.

While gun violence is the crux of the game, it isn’t trying to take itself too seriously. It doubles down on its core principles and strives to offer as many moments of fun as possible, like a rollercoaster without any speed bumps.

But the wacky personality is only the surface of what makes My Friend Pedro so great; that honor goes to, of course, its gameplay. What’s more fun than shooting the bad guys? Shooting the bad guys with style, of course, and My Friend Pedro has plenty of it.

Gif Courtesy of DeadToast Entertainment
Gif Courtesy of DeadToast Entertainment /

You’ll come across your usual artillery of weaponry as your progress through the game —including shotguns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles — and the basic shooting mechanics work well enough. Sometimes, though, you’ll find that the aiming can be a bit jarring, especially when you use the lock-on feature to aim at two different enemies.

But the real fun comes in the form of the game’s focus mechanic, which allows you to slow down time and give you opportunities for pulling off absurd tricks that you’d see in your favorite action movies.

Want to dual-wield your pistols, backflip off a wall, simultaneously shoot two guys on opposite ends of the room, and kick a nearby object into the face of the last guy once you hit the ground? You can do it, and you’ll fight your way through 40 levels across five distinct environments with a plethora of their exciting combat scenarios.

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You’ll need to conserve your focus meter as much as possible — especially on the higher difficulties — and there are few things more satisfying than pulling off a stylish onslaught of kills that would make even Neo himself proud.

It never gets old, and while completing the game’s levels isn’t going to take you a more than a few hours, the gameplay is undeniably addictive. Even after I was done playing, I still found enjoyment in trying to get the highest possible scores and combos for each level.

While it would’ve been nice to see some different gameplay modes to add another layer of replayability to the levels, but the foundation is strong enough. Moreover, the game’s personality, combined with a few substantial action set-pieces like a motorcycle chase and a fight against an enemy helicopter also helps keep things from feeling repetitive.

DeadToast Entertainment
DeadToast Entertainment /

But perhaps in its desire to keep things changing throughout is where My Friend Pedro starts to show its issues. The later levels of the game — while they do succeed in changing things up by adding new obstacles and tougher enemies — aren’t quite as enjoyable. Difficulty is one thing, but there are some cases in which increasing the challenge takes away from what made the game so fun in the first place; My Friend Pedro is one of those cases.

The flare of pulling off different tricks and getting a higher score is what makes the game so engaging, yet the game suddenly feels more inclined to limit you as much as possible. Being forced to use certain weapons, or use the same basic strategies, isn’t exactly riveting stuff. I’d rather keep doing backflips over enemies, not cover behind obstacles and wait for my health to recharge.

You’ll find yourself playing a shooter that feels a little more ordinary, and while that isn’t the kiss of death in the slightest considering how solid the mechanics are, it’s certainly disappointing. But in fairness, there are a couple of moments — especially in the final, utterly absurd sequence — that make the latter act worth it.

8.5. Aside from its occasionally imprecise aiming and uncharacteristically restricting final moments, <em>My Friend Pedro</em> is a gorgeous amalgamation of the best portions of many wildly different genres. If that doesn’t immediately draw you in, then I’m not sure what will.. DeadToast Entertainment. . My Friend Pedro

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