My Friend Pedro was my Game of the Show at EGX Rezzed. Its combination of effortless cool and terrific mechanics had me giddy all day, as such I spent the rest of my time at the event comparing every game I played to it. There wasn’t anything as slick and unique as DeadToast’s 2D twin-stick shooter and I awaited the full release with baited breath. Now it’s finally here, I really hoped the final build would live up to that brief demo I played at Tobacco Dock.
Thankfully, it does. My Friend Pedro has once again cemented Devolver Digital as perhaps the ultimate indie publisher, with the likes of Ape Out and Katana Zero already in my Game of the Year contentions. You get the feeling other publishers wouldn’t have the balls to get behind such unique projects and MFP is yet another reason why you absolutely should not be sleeping on indie titles. Especially Devolver.
You have to see this game in action to really get it. Therefore, I’m gonna fill this review with gifs of some rad moments I had throughout.
From the very beginning the game teaches you how to look really h*ckin’ cool. You awaken in dingy and life-trodden underground cellar, your only companion a floating sentient banana called Pedro who has the bewilderingly good idea to murder the ever living heck out of everyone in your way as a means to escape. Throughout the first few levels you’ll learn several new tricks including ‘Focus’ where everyting gets a little Max Payne and slows down, ensuring the ‘cool’ factor is turned up to 11. You also learn to wall-jump, dodge bullets by literally spinning your way around them, dual wield to take down two enemies on either side of the screen at once and fly through the sky doing flips all whilst shooting the throats of your enemies.
At first? It all feels a little awkward. Flipping all over the place whilst avoiding bullets and turning Focus on and off whilst reloading is difficult to pull off before you’re used to how to navigate the buttons correctly. The mechanics are simple to pick up but difficult to master, but there’s always a way out without being shot if you’re quick enough off the trigger with your bullet dodging spins. Once you nail it you’ll be taking videos and making gifs until the cows come home (which I may have done, several times) as you immediately want to share your super cool escape with everyone you know. There’s very little about MFP that’s easy, so when you pull off a cracking run and you feel like Neo just joined the cast of Equilibrium you want people to see. All of the games coolest moments are absolutely down to you and how cool you want to look. Once you nail it, it’s incredibly satisfying.
I mean, take a look at this;
It’s easy to tear through each level of My Friend Pedro and not feel ‘cool’. As mentioned above, it’s a difficult game and at times you can be easily overwhelmed by the number of enemies that surround you at certain moments. You have all the tools in your arsenal to make it out alive but a quick press of the wrong button or enemies taking down your cover (which is normally just a cardboard box) and there’s little you can do. The game encourages you to act like a complete badass throughout and you’re rewarded by how cool you can make murdering a bunch of goons in their stupid faces look. The highest scores for each level will come from your slick progression and how original you can make killing someone. particularly with big red barrels or basketballs.
Above you’ll see one of the gifs which showcases a level that takes place on a long road, this level was the first of its kind. At the end of each batch of levels you’ll play a ridiculous ‘boss level’ that is different than the norm, like riding a motorbike and mowing down everyone in your path. That particular level is brilliant fun, developer DeadToast allowing you once again to focus on your ‘cool’ points by letting only control the jumps and the wheelies whilst the game accelerates the bike on your behalf. I’m very happy I caught the moment I took a guys face off with my motorbikes back wheel. I wasn’t expecting the game to mix it up that much and I’m delighted they did. Ah, what a brilliant moment.
I say I wasn’t expecting the game to mix it up’ and honestly? I wasn’t. Sean asked me a day or so after I got the game what I thought of it so far and all I could say was ‘it’s ok’. And at the time, that’s what I felt. Yes I knew the mechanics were great and the gameplay was slick and everything looked great, but each level was playing out much the same way and I was worried the game didn’t really have much more to show me, like it had this one particularly very awesome hand and it had already been played, and the game would rely too much on trying to make me look cool rather than the game showing me how cool it was.
Thankfully, once the game opened up with a more puzzle-based system after the first few levels I understood was My Friend Pedro really was and I was so happy (and relieved) that it took everything I had learned from the first few levels and then put me in scenarios I would have to use my brain on top of the slick super cool bang bang. Moving through later levels at a slower pace genuinely does the game the world of good, and brings out a far more tactical aspect of the gunplay. It’s brutal and violent but in the best Devolver published games, the excessive bloodlust is counteracted with a strategy (Hotline Miami, Katana Zero etc…). As mentioned above it’s easy to get overwhelmed when the enemy numbers increase, but there’s always a way for you to escape unscathed, you just have to work it out. Bullet dodge is very much your friend in pretty much every single scenario.
Oh, and try to wipe the smile off your face when you finally get the skateboard…
My Friend Pedro can be a little frustrating. The ‘twin-stick’ aspect of the gunplay is balanced perfectly, though it can be a little tricky at times to guarantee exactly where you’re going to be shooting. There’s such a variety in how many ways you can shoot someone in the face, you’ll need to cycle through them all in your head insanely quickly at any given moment, making sure that you’re aiming in the right direction with the right stick. The Switch controls in particular can be a little heavy, the right Joy-Con stick has the gig of aiming and I feel like it could have been just that little bit tighter. I had to turn the aim assist up just a notch to make it comfortable. At least the option is there.
It’s hardly a complaint though, if you head into the Controls in the options menu you can tweak every single freakin’ button. If you want to move a particular action to another button the game is fully customisable, allowing you to map everything to whatever setup you desire.
Whilst it would appear that I’ve seemingly blitzed by one issue with the game within the space of a paragraph I’ll conclude that My Friend Pedro has more than lived up to my expectations and I’m absolutely thrilled that there’s yet another utterly brilliant Devolver Digital title out there in the world. It’s hilarious, ridiculous and has a fair number of ‘punch-the-air’ moments that very few games can pull of with the same style as My Friend Pedro. Playing the game earlier this year gave me a taste of what I could expect and after a little hesitation with the samey nature of the earlier levels and worrying it wasn’t going to live up to my hype?
Well, I frickin’ love this game.
Have one more gif. You deserve it.
My Friend Pedro is available now on Switch (reviewed) and PC.
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital
In order to complete this review, we received a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.
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