My Friend Pedro from Devolver Digital and DeadToast is equal parts The Matrix and John Wick. It combines frenetic mechanics that all work in tandem to create a ballet of distinct action movie sequences and over-the-top moves that not a lot of games can pull off. To be honest, I’m still sitting here wondering how publisher Devolver Digital manages to pull all these indie games into their portfolio, especially after last month’s incredible Observation, but here we are.
I’m going to get My Friend Pedro’s weaknesses out of the way first. Luckily, there’s only one thing the title does poorly, and that’s tell a story. The protagonist here is nameless. He wakes up in a butcher shop. His friend Pedro, a personified banana, is with him, and gets him to kill and otherwise cause mayhem.
Despite being a weakness, I wouldn’t say it’s a detraction from the overall experience. The story in My Friend Pedro is not the focus, and the game makes that clear within the first couple of minutes.
My Friend Pedro is mostly a short-level score attack game. Each level here took me a few minutes to beat, sometimes even less. Yet it somehow manages to ooze style in every area. The main mechanics here are built around “bullet-time,” where the player can slow down time with a button press.
Players earn points as they blast their way through stages as quickly as possible, chaining their victim’s deaths together. Extra points can be earned by being creative with their kills, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Really, the entire game can be beaten with just a few different buttons, but in a game that’s built around killing enemies, and doing it with as much style as possible, what’s the fun in that?
I want to make a note, that this review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of My Friend Pedro, and utilizing the kick mechanic in game was the only thing I had trouble with. This is mostly just because of the layout of the buttons, and I often found myself rotating my hand in order to kick enemies. Other than that, everything was incredibly smooth.
The weapon selection overall is pretty limited, but throughout My Friend Pedro’s four hour or so campaign, the introduction of new weapons and style kills are well-paced. Early on, players only have access to pistols or uzis, both of which can be dual-wielded. Eventually, an arsenal of about five weapons will be unlocked. They’re pretty standard fare, like a shotgun or assault rifle, but can ultimately be utilized to perform additional kill styles.
The shotgun, for example, can blast enemies into bits, which can then be kicked at enemies. The dual-wielded weapons can shoot in two different directions at once through use of the left trigger. Dual-wielding becomes extremely useful in these close-quarter encounters when multiple enemies are shooting at you from different directions.
Not only will players have guns and body parts to help dispose of enemies, lots of environmental factors play in. Frying pans can be kicked in the air to dispatch enemies with ricochet shots, skateboards allow for some quick movement through areas, and zip lines and rope make you feel like Tarzan with guns. Hell, players can even run on barrels to drop them onto enemies from above.
My Friend Pedro is at its best when it combines a few of the above elements together, and players create a fluid, hail of bullets while chaining together zip lines, bullet time, and barrel drops. I mentioned that the pacing of new weapon introductions is great, but the introduction of new environmental hazards is also pretty great.
The levels are incredibly designed to facilitate player, and are well crafted to be not too challenging to break a kill chain, but still require skill to navigate. Players need to perform countless wall jumps and rolls to get through a stage, and combining the wall jumps with bullet time and kills is a sight to behold.
My Friend Pedro is a rather short game, and instead of focusing on quantity of content, DeadToast opted to focus on the quality of the content. It’s a high bar too, because My Friend Pedro is non-stop action from start to finish. The replayability here isn’t the highest, unless you’re trying to beat scores, as there is no new game plus to speak of. However, the four-hour thrill ride should keep players entertained, even if it is brief.
My Friend Pedro is available now for Nintendo Switch and PC. This review is based on a Switch copy of the game provided by the publisher.