I’m starting to think that whoever decides what games Devolver Digital will publish is just really into weird short games. My Friend Pedro falls right in line with the structure of being a very strange game about a talking, probably mentally projected, floating banana and it is about three hours long in total. Whatever the case, they seem to be doing a pretty good job in the selection process.
Flash in the (Frying) Pan
My Friend Pedro takes us down the familiar road of 2D side-scrolling shooters and mixes in a spoonful of Max Payne and The Matrix. You’re not given much in the way of backstory or motivation, but as you take on the role of the masked protagonist, your main goal is shooting a bunch of enemies.
This is done with a fair bit of aim assist by default, so much of what you end up doing is getting your character in the correct position and dodging incoming attacks. Early on, you get dual pistols that allow you to split your aim by locking on one target and aiming at another.
This generally doesn’t serve much purpose as far as progression, but it does allow you to get bonus points for a better score and rating at the end of each level.
Like some other staples of the gaming world, such as Platinum games or Devil May Cry, style points are a notable portion of the allure for My Friend Pedro. You get more points for flipping off walls and using your dodge move while getting kills.
You get bonus points for special kills involving environmental things like barrels or exploding gas cans as well. There are even quite a few moments where your goal is to deflect your shots off of special plates or frying pans you kick into the air to riddle your opponents with bullets.
Those moments, in particular, are so cool it is easy to forget that they’re even about getting higher scores.
S is for Super
My Friend Pedro has a level select menu and a scoreboard for global high scores. The scores on there currently don’t even seem possible to do with my skill set.
I’ve never gone searching, but I figure there’s a whole collection of ways to drive up your score. Even without knowing that though, I managed to land one or two S ranks on some levels. It seems the idea here is to motivate you to try to S rank the entire game one level at a time, which isn’t the worst way to inspire replayability, but it’s usually not one that motivates me to dive back into a game.
If you’re not into that, or you don’t enjoy taking on content on harder difficulty levels, you’re probably going to be finished with this game in about three hours.
Platforming at its Unexpected
Going through most of the game, platforming is a means to an end. In the first half to two-thirds of your gameplay, you’re jumping across platforms and rolling through gaps simply get to your targets and unleashing your fury in slow motion.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you just start in on puzzle platforming. It does get some combat interspersed throughout some of these levels, but others just have you trying to figure out what jumps and flips you need to navigate the hallways and platforms. I don’t think it was necessarily bad, but it really slowed down the breakneck pace of the game.
The addition makes enough sense in context, but some of the later levels are just frustrating in how easy it is to fail. Luckily, I never encountered a point where I had to restart more than a few seconds prior to the place I died. It appears that failure is less about making you slog through a level again and more to motivate you for higher scores and ranks by avoiding deaths and moving quickly.
Sometimes I wonder if Devolver’s involvement props up games that otherwise wouldn’t see much fanfare. I don’t think My Friend Pedro is bad by any means. It is actually a lot of fun for its limited run time. However, it’s not really all that unique in my view.
It reminded me of a classic game named Seraph that came out a few years ago and that self-published game (with a lower release price) had a vastly more limited reach. I suppose that says more about the power of good advertising than about game quality though.
My Friend Pedro is a good time, assuming you can get a grasp on the control scheme. It can get a little chaotic trying to aim multiple directions, slow down time, jump, and dodge bullets fast enough for it to look as cool as people post online.
When you do well, you’ll feel like a mega badass, but when you screw up – and you will screw up far more often – you’ll just kind of have to accept it and move on. The $20 price point is probably higher than it should be for the overall length of gameplay and quality, but it’s a great pickup on a decent sale.
My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro is an action-filled sidescrolling shooter that may not be long, but has a lot of fun packed in there.
- Plenty of relentless action
- Fun combat mechanics
- Style points and level ratings
- Relatively short game with limited replayability