You know that satisfying moment when you absolutely nail a dead eye sequence in Red Dead Redemption? Or when you dive through the air in full superman pose, blasting away enemies with bullet time in John Woo’s Stranglehold? Wasn’t that such a disturbingly gratifying memory? Now imagine that little nugget of serotonin boost you get when that happens. Got it? Spread that out for around five hours and that’s how My Friend Pedro feels. It’s bloody delightful.
From developers DeadToast Entertainment comes My Friend Pedro; an insane, 2.5D arcade score-attack game where you parkour your way though ever more difficult levels as quickly as possible, killing enemies in creative ways, all whilst trying not to get shot. And the best part? You can do it all in slow motion!
It’s isn’t exactly a new concept and it’s one which I initially thought was a bit tired, but the fluidity, the creativity and how un-seriously the game takes itself makes it just so damn fun to play. It encourages you to be as bad-ass as you can possibly be too. You want to run on a barrel, have it squash someone, land on a skateboard, shoot someone through a window and then back flip over two enemies, taking out each one with akimbo uzis? Well, in My Friend Pedro you can.
A story mode isn’t exactly this game’s strong point. In fact, it doesn’t really have any point at all. It glosses over just about everything and I’ll be honest I don’t even remember what the narrative is. There is basic dialogue and simple cutscenes, I know there are baddies that I have to kill as someone is doing something bad. I’m also told all of this by a talking banana called Pedro. You see my point? I don’t care that there isn’t a story, as having to concentrate on that is time taken away from the awesome slow motion killing. The less story in this the better.
My Friend Pedro itself lasts a short and sweet 4 or 5 hours, which is just enough time to stop things from ever getting boring. The stages are varied enough and even though some of the settings look a little similar, the game adds in enough new mechanics to keep you engaged. They throw in lifts, different levels, pulleys and levers, new and more difficult enemy types and a variety of weapons. These weapons are a huge factor in keeping the game fresh, even though there aren’t really that many, but each weapon really varies how you tackle each of these stages. Shotguns are fantastic at short range and cause devastating amounts of damage to your adversaries but lack any long range, meaning you risk death as you must get as close as possible to kill people. Whereas uzis, on the other hand, are fantastic at long range killing, letting you split your aim between two enemies when you have akimbo weapons. However their damage isn’t exactly great so you will constantly find yourself looking for dropped ammo as you unleash round after round.
As mentioned before, the stages are definitely varied enough to keep you engaged but the first half of My Friend Pedro’s stages are, in my opinion, way more fun. They seem to have more choices in terms of creativity and additional ways to partake in crazy stunts whilst using objects scattered around. That isn’t to say the second half of the game is bad – far from it – but when the enemies get a lot harder and seem to be bullet sponges, it’s more of a case of just trying to survive and not being able to enjoy the silliness as much. Because of this I definitely found myself repeating the early stages more often to try and get a better final score.
With a game like this there is so much happening on the screen. There are bullets flying everywhere, explosions aplenty, blood, glass, and much more – so much so that there are bound to be a few technical hiccups. Throughout my playthrough I have found that my character was trying to take on too much at once, especially when trying to do it all in slow motion. For instance, jumping off a wall mid-flip occasionally looks weird, not pushing off with my feet, and instead using my face or some other weird part of my body. Or my character would slightly glitch out on a random object I happened to unexpectedly land on. It does take away the graceful fluidity of any sequence, but because it never really affected the gameplay or stopped me in my tracks, I always just brushed it off. I didn’t want to stop as I knew every second saved in this game would allow for a better score at the end. That shows how much I enjoyed the proceedings; the glitches just don’t matter, as all I cared for was being the most bad-ass shooter I could possibly be. That’s what My Friend Pedro does best.
My Friend Pedro on Xbox One is a gloriously violent, silly and, ultimately, fun game. Because the experience is so short it doesn’t give itself time to become irrelevant or boring, and so we are gifted this little gem of fun that can just be enjoyed. The outrageous ways to kill enemies never get boring as you slow motion flip and dive your way across multiple levels. The story is practically non-existent though, and there are definitely times where the animation gets a bit ahead of itself and the fluidity is lost. Thankfully, you’ll be having so much fun skateboarding through a kitchen and jumping through windows that you really won’t care.