I’m sure we’ve all had a time or two in our lives when we just wanted to go bananas — to just flip desks over while in the office or in a classroom, to stick it to the man or woman that’s been making our lives more difficult than it has to be, or to simply kick a basketball in someone’s face. The reality is, though, that we basically can’t do these things without facing any sort of major consequence. My Friend Pedro, the violent, acrobatic, slow-mo shooter from developer DeadToast Entertainment and publisher Devolver Digital, says “to hell with that” and lets you be the badass rebel you’ve always wanted to be.
My Friend Pedro wastes no time to get you right into the action as Pedro, your talking banana friend and helpful spiritual guide, wakes you up and after that, it’s guns-blazing-go-time. The premise itself is all so simple but satisfying: Buddy up with Pedro and kill or be killed.
Rather than stuffing your face with needless details, like the identity of the mysterious, nimble, killing machine that is the playable character, My Friend Pedro lets all the action do the talking. Now, that’s not to say that there’s nothing else to enjoy as the writing, more specifically for Pedro and his witty banter, is truly charming. Also, the friendship that unfolds between the silent protagonist and Pedro is quite something and actually makes up for the lack of a true story being told.
What may be disappointing for some players, however, is that the enemies presented in the game are pretty run-of-the-mill and uninteresting — and the bosses or main antagonists don’t get much time to shine. Needless to say, My Friend Pedro isn’t going to capture your undivided attention with its premise and characters (even though Pedro is one cool banana) — but its insanely addictive, fluid, and stylish gameplay will as it’s literally bananas.
As aforementioned, My Friend Pedro is all about being a killing machine. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, My Friend Pedro’s gameplay is far from just being like a simple banana, which is mainly a good thing, but it does slip up a bit. The best way to describe how to handle the game is you need to either go big or go home… actually, there is no going home, so you better go big.
Each level has you running, jumping, spinning, twisting, swinging, and flipping your way to the end, all the while killing off any foes that get in your way. Combat is ultimately the coolest part of it all. Sure, there’s killing enemies by shooting them with only a pistol, but then there are other satisfying ways to get the deed done like kicking a knife right at their heads, using dual uzis to do a split shot to shoot two foes at once, or my personal favorite, doing a backflip, aiming and firing a bullet at a frying pan so the bullet ricochets off just right to blow up a gas container and then a group of baddies gets blown up in one glorious, gigantic explosion.
Unleashing mass destruction doesn’t have to be done at normal speed, however, you can take things down a notch, a big notch at that. That’s right, there’s slo-mo in My Friend Pedro which is handled with the game’s Focus mechanic, and what’s so great about it, aside from it just being awesome, is that it pretty much never runs out and it can be toggled on or off at any time. Regardless if you’re in slo-mo mode or not, enemies and bosses are generally easy to take out, however, it is delightful to have the ability to twist and turn like a ballerina to avoid any bullets. At the end of it all, the combat has so much substance to it to the point that it never gets dull, and offers the creative tools you need to make your very own thrilling action movie sequences during intense firefights. It’s important to note, though, there’s a bit of a learning curve with the combat itself, but it’s a worthy challenge to overcome.
Thankfully, though, the level designs have been given the same complexity treatment as they’re far from linear. Each level you take on is chock-full of obstacles for you to traverse across or even maneuver on, like walls that can you can jump off of and ropes to help you swing over to a platform. All these obstacles can be used to your advantage in more ways than one, especially when it comes to delivering stylish kills, making levels feel like fun, bloody playgrounds to play in. What’s more is that most of the levels don’t restrict your freedom of movement, instead, they give you the tools you need to be a nimble trapeze-like artist, which further amplifies the joyful, deadly dance that is My Friend Pedro.
On the flip side, there are some quirks within the game that some players may find disruptive. These quirks for me were the physics-based puzzles. While yes, they were quite clever, I found them to kill off the overall flow of My Friend Pedro — as they felt like they were just a chore to deal with. I didn’t want to worry about stopping and thinking to turn levers the right way, all I wanted to do was run and gun like crazy, but I can understand why the developer decided to throw in puzzle solving in in order to mix things up with the game. While I wasn’t a fan of the puzzles, I most definitely enjoyed the motorcycle chase levels that reminded me of Final Fantasy VII’s motorcycle minigame.
All of your hard work, pulling off all sorts of insane, kill-filled stunts, isn’t all for nothing as each level ends with a scorecard and rank. Points are earned for chaining kills in a combo, killing off all foes, not dying, going through levels in a flash — you know the drill. While this is nothing that hasn’t been done before, what’s particularly neat is that certain moments can be re-experienced as every time a level is finished, My Friend Pedro automatically picks out the best clip that shows you being a badass, which can be viewed or even shared via Twitter as a GIF. It’s a nice feature that makes the game all the more fun.
Visually speaking, there’s not much here that’ll wow you in terms of graphics alone, but the art style is what makes My Friend Pedro pop out the most. The backgrounds are fully-fleshed out with nice bits of detail, and the main character design is wicked as it’s like a streetwear version of Deadpool. To be a little more critical, I would’ve liked for enemy designs to be more unique as they’re rather redundant, and some levels like particular bland. Thankfully, all the visual and sound effects have been executed well, especially with the flashy guns that all have a nice pop sound to them, which help make the game a full-on spectacle to experience.
My Friend Pedro is the Max Payne, Matrix, and Deadpool fusion I didn’t know I needed. The game is so wonderfully strange, yet so gracefully magnificent — its a Prix de Lausanne-winning ballet performance of blood, bullets, and bananas that you can’t help but fall madly in love with. Sure, the intermission segments (the puzzles) are hard to deal with, however, at the end of it all, My Friend Pedro deserves an encore of the greatest of encores. Don’t skip out on this one, it’s a bloody, beautiful, banana-loving gem.
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