I’ve been following DeadToast Entertainment’s development of My Friend Pedro for a while now, prior to Devolver Digital bringing them under their publishing umbrella. The game had a cult following that was mostly shown via GIFs on Twitter, and I’ve been eager to get my hands on it. Now that I have, I can say that My Friend Pedro feels very familiar, yet completely unique in its own space. The acrobatics, gunplay, and ease at which you can control these aspects is unrivaled and unlike anything I’ve played before. Gwen Stefani had it right, because “This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!”
There’s not much in the way of a story for My Friend Pedro. This is mainly due to the fact that your character has amnesia, and this floating banana named Pedro can’t tell you much either. What you do know is that everyone must die. And so you begin your quest to find the truth, and take anyone out along the way. At its core, this plays like a Hong Kong-style action movie the way John Woo would make, mixed with 2.5D sidescroller movement, and finally the bullet-time mechanics and movement from Max Payne. It’s a lot of things, but they work so well together for a smooth, cohesive experience.
The game takes place across five distinct areas, with 40 levels to traverse. It took me about 3 hours to see the game’s ending on Normal difficulty. Now, there’s two difficulties above this, with normal being the lowest and first option available. I never felt like My Friend Pedro overstayed its welcome, but the balance of levels seemed off. I would have liked to see less levels per area, and more areas themselves. And this is a game you’re meant to replay levels and further challenge yourself.
My Friend Pedro is brimming with creative and absolutely bizarre levels. Sometimes you’re in a dream world, or in the sewers shooting internet dudes in armor with swords, and going through a facility against armored baddies. The game does its best to change things up and not make it all combat arenas. It combines everything you learned about combat, and introduces new platforming elements. Later levels become more about precise platforming rather than the combat. It doesn’t monopolize a good portion of the game, but it gets unbalanced in a way where you’re itching to start shooting again.
Upon completion of a level, you’ll be given a rating for your performance. They are letter-based overall ratings, like: C for Come On, B for Bananas, A for Astonishing, and S for Super. This is based on your accumulated score for game score, time bonus, kills, no death bonus, and difficulty bonus. Where this matters most is that the levels are bite-sized enough to replay and work to improve these scores. But difficulty selection is going to be the biggest factor in your rating.
My Friend Pedro has some outstanding and inventive elements. The best thing you can do is split aim. Yes, split aim. You can lock a specific target with one gun, and then free aim to another target with another. This is not only a great way to ensure a higher score, but is almost a necessity to avoid getting hit in tight spaces. There some more convenient elements to the level design, such as careful placed metal signs in which you can ricochet bullets off of. Or the skateboards or barrels you can land on to roll over baddies with. The boss fights in particular do a good job at changing up the formula like fights on a motorcycle or against a VTOL. If nothing else, My Friend Pedro doesn’t settle for mundane.
Combat in My Friend Pedro is incredibly fun to engage in, especially when you use all of the weapons at your disposal. There’s pistols and SMGs, both of which can be dual-wielded. Then there’s shotguns, assault rifles, and even sniper rifles to round out the list. It’s vital you use the slow motion, your melee kicks, and switching weapons instead of waiting to reload to get a higher score and maximize the fun. The multiplier will grow like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the different moves you pull off. To say that the game has a fluid movement system is an understatement. The way you twist, roll, or otherwise cleanly transition into different animations is best seen in slow motion.
Leaderboards are featured heavily, comparing you to others, and are used as a mechanism to try the level again to do better against friends or strangers. They are broken up by level and difficulty so that players are ranked accordingly. My Friend Pedro has some weird visual hiccups. While the game was running a constant 60fps, it felt jerky as if Vsync was being forced to ON. I have a G-Sync monitor and it just didn’t seem as smooth as it should have been.
My Friend Pedro is a game meant to share your coolest moments and triumphs. Maybe you kicked a frying pan into an enemy, and then shot the pan which ricocheted a shot into another enemy across the room. You can share those moments as a downloadable GIF or MP4, or share directly to Twitter with a simple button press.
DeadToast Entertainment has made a game that builds on the systems and mechanics it introduces incrementally to the player. This is a game where you feel like John Wick (or maybe Neo for a more accurate Keanu Reeves reference) by game’s end. The late game annoyances in platforming don’t sour what is otherwise and incredibly fun game where you’re in direct control of the action. The tagline is “Blood. Bullets. Bananas.” and that couldn’t be more accurate. Though, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again after experiencing the final level. My Friend Pedro is equal parts substance and style, with emphasis on the style.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes