My Friend Pedro very much reminds me of games back then that didn’t really have a story, but more a basic premise that gave players a reason to go about killing mindlessly. I say mindlessly figuratively, as the game actually requires thought on how to progress through each room. Executing the plan is an entirely different thing entirely, and it isn’t really helped by surprisingly unwieldy controls that need getting used to.
Throughout the stages, the protagonist ends up collecting various sorts of weaponry, ranging from pistols (the basic bread and butter), submachine guns, and shotguns. You also get introduced to new mechanics with each world, and together, you have plentiful ways to solve situations created by the geometry of the buildings and floors that the player jumps and wall-jumps through.
That said, just getting through the stages isn’t the main appeal. It’s doing it stylishly, which is the main factor you’re judged upon when completing each stage. Will you do a wall kick then kill on the flip? A dramatic entrance kill of a rope? These situations to an extent are manufactured from the environment and level design, meaning it’s not fully of the player’s volition, but it’s most definitely up to the player to utilize these gimmicks to the fullest.
There really is a lot to learn and keep in mind, and a lot of split-second decisions to make. The developers opted to let players keep track of the action via a bullet time mode activated with L3, and there is a copious amount of auto lock-on when aiming guns. Despite being a very good option that is rewarded, as killing enemies refills the Focus meter, it feels a bit too much like a crutch, as personally I felt things slowed down a bit too much. It didn’t feel as cool as it could be with it on all the time. So I opted to turn it on for entries and wing it afterwards in most cases, which didn’t earn me a high grade, but made me feel badass.
With or without the slow-mo, some flaws do stand out, due to both its premise and the measures to make sure things flowed well. Controls and physics feel quite loose, and while the wall kick feels enjoyable thanks to the air time, jumping and the odd platforming section felt a bit out of place and sometimes hard to control well. While not an issue in most cases, you’ll find that the auto-targeting locks on a bit too easily, making it hard to precisely aim on the right stick to pick off stragglers when they are standing near a gimmick, such as metal plates that reflect bullets onto specific platforms. There’s also some personal gripes, like how kicking has too short of a range, and how the submachine guns seem to be worse than the pistols.
These gameplay issues did irk me when they did pop up, and it did jarringly point out moments where the gameplay instances were more contrived than natural. But when you just want to hop around killing dudes while dodging bullets (well, sorta) and platforming around on a 2D plane, there’s nowhere else to be than with My Friend Pedro.
My Friend Pedro is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.