One of the largest joys within the world of indie games is finding something which feels incredibly unique… if a bit odd at times in said uniqueness. A game that embodies this simple joy is My Friend Pedro. Through its tone, visuals, story and gameplay My Friend Pedro feels like a wonderful cacophony of elements that gives it its own identity which will be an acquired taste I’m sure… but it’s a taste I really appreciated. DeadToast Entertainment have made a short but sweet game that feels like it was swept under the rug by a lot of people, despite having pulled off a wonderful blend of action and the absurd.
My Friend Pedro is a visceral experience in which you feel like you’re the star of your own action movie with some of the ridiculous set pieces and moves at the player’s disposal. The title is a side-scrolling action game in which you shoot your way through levels while doing some small puzzle sections along the way. Where I feel this gameplay really shines is when it adds in something extra to the level, such as one level where you’re skydiving as you chase the level’s end-boss or the levels where they give you a skateboard or barrel to travel on which adds better motion and flow to the combat and again feels like an unstoppable action movie character. As the game goes on you gain more weapons which allow for you to choose how you approach each scenario which is great, however, the SMGs felt a little underwhelming once you gain the assault rifle, becoming more of a backup in case you run out of ammo in my experience at least.
One critique I do have for the controls is how the flips work, wall-jumping is very intuitive and easy to pull off so no complaints there but flipping in mid-air which needs to be done to complete a tutorial is very finicky and I almost never used it after the tutorial. Throughout the majority of levels, there are yellow collectables that once collected give the player a gameplay tweak such as infinite ammo, changing the player’s size and many more to be used after you first complete the campaign. This provides a good incentive for those that enjoy the gameplay to replay the game with these modifiers as the game isn’t ultra-long so any excuse for replayability is much appreciated.
To put it in a single sentence, the plot of this game is insane, funny and very off the wall. While the gameplay is very ‘action movie’ in its approach, the story is more of an acid trip as you adventure through many environments with your floating banana friend Pedro. The protagonist wakes up in a butcher shop with the aforementioned Pedro telling the player of what has previously occurred, sending the player on a path of revenge. It’s a very simple plot concept but I feel the writing still holds up to make the game feel more unique than the base concept with a great deal of humour and takes pleasure in the absurdity of what is happening within it. The plot takes a back seat to the gameplay and aesthetics, but the effort is still put into making the story not feel boring.
The aesthetics of My Friend Pedro include a clashing of styles that manage to blend together well and manage to keep a consistent level of immersion despite the absurdity. For the majority of the game, the graphics/art style are based in a realistic but stylised setting of a city with pops of the outlandish through Pedro who appears with a strange aura around him showing his importance and otherworldly nature. This art style rule is not always kept to, however, as one of the game levels is called ‘Pedro’s world’ (pictured below) and has a colour palette and style that is heavily surreal and almost the stereotypical appearance of an acid trip in other media.
In terms of music, the game goes for a very techno/drum and bass sound which I think works with the gameplay very effectively. It reminds me in a lot of ways of how Hotline Miami uses its music, with repetitive but catchy techno beats which put the player in an almost mindless state in which they do the job at hand even when not knowing exactly why all the time. The only aspect of the soundtrack that may be an issue for some is the lack of variety as what was there is great, but it does mostly stick to one genre.
My Friend Pedro is a game that when looked at as a whole is a very enjoyable and memorable experience, even when some of the individual aspects are lacking that same gravity. The game’s length feels appropriate to me personally as I feel it had a well-set gameplay loop that couldn’t have lasted several hours, however, I know some would like a more long-form experience which is why I focused upon replayability earlier on in this review. A lot of the elements I’ve discussed do not sound like they would work while put together, however after finishing the game I have to say they definitely do.
You can purchase My Friend Pedro on Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store, Nintendo E-shop or on Steam. It is also on Xbox Game Pass until February 14th, 2022 and it is currently on discount on Xbox Marketplace for around £6.69 (usually £16.74). If you’d like to keep up to date with all of our upcoming reviews, news, and features here at Gaming Sandbox, feel free to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you’d like to support us financially you can do so by following the link to our Patreon!