Bonkers. Bananas. Bravissimo. Brilliant. Beautiful. All of these words are used for end of level grades in DeadToast Entertainment’s game My Friend Pedro. They just so happen to also be great descriptors for the game itself, coincidentally. It’s a wild, and frequently chaotic, side-scrolling shooter that is an absolute blast to play. Although it shares some similarities with Hotline Miami and The Matrix, My Friend Pedro is its own entity.
The Hotline Miami comparison mainly comes from its story. The masked human controlled character awakens to a talking banana named Pedro. Pedro informs him all of the people in the area must be killed, the only reason being because they’re bad. Main characters are introduced in each new area and glimpses into the nameless main character’s identity and motives are slowly revealed. In reality, you are just being pushed further and further down a path of mayhem and bloodshed.
Regarding the story itself, it takes a major backseat to the game’s mechanics and controls. Wielding guns, ranging from pistol to assault rifle to sniper rifle, you are the conductor and main performer of a brutal, bloody ballet. Combine that with slowing down time, dodging bullets, split aiming, wall jumping, rolling, and even skateboarding, there’s plenty to keep you engaged and entertained. The game does a phenomenal job of introducing these mechanics to you one at a time, as to not overwhelm players. When it all comes together, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
The music and animation are unique and stylistic, but also subdued. The music isn’t as dominating as games like Hotline Miami, Super Meat Boy, or Furi, but in this case, that’s a good thing. Those games all have iconic soundtracks, but My Friend Pedro treats music and sound effects as more of a background to the action that’s going on in the foreground. The art feels the same. It has its own flair, but isn’t too flashy or over the top.
On a personal note, I play a lot of video games and I am finding it harder and harder to be impressed after over 25 years of gaming. Yet I must have said “wow” close to a hundred times during my playthrough and found a few of the levels to be stunning.
The only negatives are the wooden crates and the skateboard. At times, the crates block your path forward or are used as steps to higher levels. However, they act as a hindrance more often than not, slowing you down and breaking combos. The skateboard is the same, but even more annoying. It hardly ever stays underfoot and is the only prop in the game that isn’t fun. On the topic of props, frying pans used to ricochet bullets and decapitated heads being kicked around as a secondary weapon are inventive, hilarious, and disturbing, all at the same time.
My Friend Pedro does so many things well, that the negatives almost seem nitpicky. And even though the game can be challenging, it’s not an overly difficult game (especially on the default difficulty setting). Players looking for a greater challenge and higher scores will also find value in its replayability. Everyone involved in the making of this game should be truly proud, because it’s incredible.