Played on Windows.
Also available on Nintendo Switch.
My Friend Pedro is a strange game. The entire trailer has left a lot of questions in my mind and the fact is Devolver Digital’s lineup before this has been quite solid and kept me interested. I’ve covered The Messenger recently and reviewed Ruiner before that but Devolver Digital has become well known for it’s interesting and sometimes bizarre titles, and My Friend Pedro certainly lives up to that bar.
Before we dive into the weird wild world of My Friend Pedro, I do want to clear up a misconception. I initially went into this game thinking it’ll be somewhat similar to Marvel’s character, Deadpool. Part of this was just the style of humor that this game seems to exude, and part of it is due to the trailers that My Friend Pedro had. While there is a surreal experience to be had in My Friend Pedro, if you go in assuming a similar style to either Deadpool, the comic book character, or Deadpool, the movie character, you’ll likely be disappointed. With that said, let’s look at what My Friend Pedro is
My Friend Pedro is set up to be a 2.5 shooter platformer, involving the player running through a level and shooting enemies that are waiting for him. Since the game is set up to be a side scroller, most enemies can be identified long before they are directly encountered.
The game offers gifs, which of course means we can see the game in action.
Players can make plans to stylishly move through the world, including wall jumping, rolling, twirling on the ground and in the air and even using a focus mode style control that allows players to spin in mid-air as they jump. The amount of versatility in the motion creates a far more interesting look to My Friend Pedro and makes the game emulate many over-the-top action movies stunts.
While the game doesn’t have the best choice of locations, starting in a Butcher’s shop and then moving to an abandoned building, the action and experience make up for a weaker location choice at times. Of course, My Friend Pedro also does have some more visually appealing levels and while I don’t want to show everything here, there’s an outlandish attitude with the game that makes the player continue to play just to see what will happen next.
My Friend Pedro has flashes of visually interesting and unique gameplay, but sadly these are only a few moments in the entire game. There’s a point where you find a frying pan that you can kick in the air and shoot to hit enemies and while this does work perfectly, it’s only used a handful of times. Similarly, the game throws out a few other interesting techniques like skateboarding but they don’t stay around long enough to enjoy them.
A better part of the experience is the boss encounters that change up the gameplay. The first major boss turns the game into a motorcycle racing game where the player can move backwards and forwards across multiple streets and then shoot enemies as they approach. It’s a strange, odd, and brilliant gameplay setup that only adds to the style of the game. The boss fights are consistently the best parts of My Friend Pedro, and I would have loved to see more parts of the game exhibited by those areas in the game to change up the experience.
There is so much style from this game.
That’s more of a problem for My Friend Pedro as a whole, and we will talk about it in the gameplay section, but I was able to fly through My Friend Pedro in only five hours, and that’s kind of short overall, but we’ll get there.
My Friend Pedro starts with the player waking up in the aforementioned butcher shop’s basement. Our main character wakes up with very little to say and a floating banana starts to impart the story to the player, as well as taking him through a rather minor but useful tutorial.
The fact is with the trailers and the surreal humor, I was expecting there to be at least an attempt at some story, and shockingly there’s almost none. It’s not that there’s no attempt at a story, the characters you kill are given backstories but the player’s character has very little to do with it. Even the locations you move through have more of a reason to be part of the game than the main character, but ultimately, the game feels like it’s lacking even an attempt at more than a simple story.
There’s really not a lot of story here, sadly.
At least that’s true for a decent part of the game. Much like Ruiner, My Friend Pedro seems to remember that games can have stories at the last minute. While there are a couple of references to the main character being “Someone they know” the final boss reveals who you are, and without spoiling it, it’s quite a flat reveal as it’s not a character you care about, but it’s just a story that makes very little sense.
That doesn’t mean My Friend Pedro is awful. The lack of a story would be fine, as My Friend Pedro seems to focus more on replayability than a story-driven narrative, but the fact that there’s a somewhat serious attempt at all to try to tell the player who the main character is, means that the developer gave it some effort and it’s a quite underwhelming.
The other issue to illustrate how little effort was put into the game, that I still can’t remember if the player had a name. While the player’s name might have been mentioned at the end, it was such a lackluster reveal that even if it did happen I couldn’t tell you what it was.
After playing My Friend Pedro, I think I can safely say that it was never meant to be a major story experience. Much of the attempts to sell a narrative seems to be based on last-minute decisions and the idea to give the game more “character” in trailers so it can stand out. But ultimately once a player plays through My Friend Pedro, it’s pretty clear that the game might have surreal moments, and a talking banana, but My Friend Pedro is designed to revolve around a score attack system.
Much of the game is based on twin-stick shooters. While our main character runs around like a maniac, he still will aim his guns quite reliably in any direction the player asks him to and is relatively accurate with his shots. The style that My Friend Pedro uses doesn’t harm the feeling of the game to have accurate controls if the player wants them.
These gifs really give the best moments of action.
There are even a few nice tricks that make the game even better. My Friend Pedro allows players to lock onto a target with a simple press of the left trigger and then target a second enemy with the right stick. This creates an easy motion and allows for even more stylish combat, offering bonus points for what it calls a “Split” kill. There are additional bonuses for almost anything, from a ricochet, in-air kill, or more. Players have a lot of variety in their arsenal which will be essential for players chasing the score attack.
There are even more interesting kills when players add in frying pans, kickable objects, skateboards and more, and in fact, these are the small touches that elevate My Friend Pedro from a simple shooter to something unique. Shooting a frying pan in mid-air is overpowered, as the bullets appear to lock onto enemies, but the idea of it is so enjoyable that I would use the frying pans every chance I got. Ultimately, that became the issue. For every new and interesting piece of gameplay, the new gameplay would eventually disappear before too long, and while players might enjoy them, the lack of depth and brevity to their appearances made it hard to enjoy these devices.
The boss battles, though, are the parts of My Friend Pedro that stand out. While they do stand out for graphics, playing a little diversion, where the main character is riding on a motorcycle in a car chase is fun, and the controls work wonderfully. The same can be said for the rest of the major bosses and their levels. Each boss encounter becomes a high point for My Friend Pedro and they work well to change up the pace of the game, even for a short time.
Still, there are a few issues in the combat. Players can spin and fly through the air, but the left bumper is for “Dodging” any time a bullet is coming towards the player, they can hit that one button and suddenly Deadpo… the unnamed main character starts spinning and dodging all attacks and still can fire their guns. While their aim becomes completely inaccurate, they gain complete invulnerability from attacks, and this dodge move can be used as long as the player has “focus”, the same ability that allows them to slow down time or dodge through the air. I rarely used these abilities as I found they made the game a little too easy. Just the fact that the game reminds you to “Dodge” when you are low on life just unbalances the game a bit and makes the player realize how powerful many abilities here are.
The boss levels are some of the coolest moments in the game.
That’s not my biggest problem with My Friend Pedro, as mentioned before, My Friend Pedro has a major flaw, and it’s that while it has stylistic looks and great gameplay, with fantastic bosses, the game is limited to only five hours of gameplay. After I finished the final mission I was a little shocked the game was over as it felt like a very short experience. especially for a 20 dollar title.
Each level does offer a score at the end of it, and being a new player, I never scored above a B. While B is a respectable starting score, it still left me a long climb to the A tier, or even the S tier, both of which would take a lot of work.
At the same time, I didn’t find a lot of reasons to chase the leaderboard. While I understand many players will enjoy this type of game that values style over substance, it didn’t offer the right type of challenge for me to begin the pursuit.
My Friend Pedro is an interesting game. The style and gunplay in the game are well-executed, and there’s a few surprises that I haven’t discussed here that will make fans have a good time. But the fact that this good time only lasts for five hours is shockingly low and illustrates a major problem, in my opinion.
My Friend Pedro isn’t bad, but it lacks a real reason to keep playing other than a leaderboard competition. If you’re a player who loves to obsess over perfecting a run and trying to get the best time or score on a game, My Friend Pedro can scratch that itch. There’s a lot of replayability while players try to perfect a level. However, most fans will likely not return to many of the levels and be happy to play through the game a single time.
It is those latter players that are in trouble with My Friend Pedro as the experience is over so fast, that fans might not feel they got their money’s worth. At twenty dollars I’m not sure I can say if they have, though if the game was closer to ten dollars, this might be a stronger value proposition.
I am giving My Friend Pedro a
That’s 3.5/5 for people who are expecting to replay My Friend Pedro. If you’re looking for a single playthrough, I would recommend looking elsewhere, sadly.
Final Thoughts: A short but enjoyable game, though much of the game is based on score attacks and leaderboard competitions. If this appeals to you, great, but everyone else might want to skip it.
Stats: 5 hours played 23/30 achievements earned.