While I’ll always be a sucker for a great story in a game, more often than not the reason I play video games is because of the gameplay. If you’ve read any of my reviews here at DualShockers, you’ve probably noticed that I tend to focus on gameplay mechanics and their quality more than anything else. When a masterful game with tight controls and mechanics comes along, I’m typically all over it.
During PAX West, I was able to try out an upcoming release that I think perfectly fits this bill for me. My Friend Pedro is a twin-stick (on console, at least) action platformer that sees you running and bouncing off of walls throughout levels in the pursuit of as high of a score as possible. With a wacky tone and what seems to be a high-level of replayability, My Friend Pedro quickly became one of my favorites that I saw at the convention mainly because of how it suited exactly what I love in games of this nature.
The first thing that I noticed and perhaps the most stand-out aspect of My Friend Pedro deals with the movement. Your character feels extremely loose but also incredibly precise. Think along the lines of something akin to Octodad but not as over-the-top and uncontrollable. This flexibility allows you to get around the environment in unique ways and more than anything just feels fun to control. Having the ability to play so loose in this manner while also being able to control exactly where you want to be is hard to accomplish, but My Friend Pedro nails it.
Movement plays directly into combat as well as most of the time, I found that to engage with enemies I’d need to bounce off of a wall, swan dive from a ledge, or roll into a room and begin blasting every direction. As I briefly mentioned, I played with a controller so, for me, My Friend Pedro essentially boiled down to being a twin-stick shooter where I moved with the left stick and aimed with the right. Those who play on PC can just use the mouse to aim in any which way and the game’s developer told me that this manner is much easier. Enjoy, PC master race.
While shooting is pretty much as simple as aiming in a direction and firing, you can also aim in two different directions at once when dual-wielding guns. Pulling off these shots can be difficult at first but the satisfaction upon killing two enemies in two different areas is really satisfying. There’s also a bullet-time style feature as well that allows you to aim your shorts in a more precise manner, so don’t worry about having to play at too quick of a pace.
What I quickly found myself wanting to do once I gathered my bearings with the mechanics was to dive back into the same level and get a higher score. My first few levels weren’t too great just because I didn’t really know how the game worked, but once I realized that you could string together kills to build up your score I began to understand how the scoring system will work and how best to take advantage of it. If you’re into games like Hotline Miami or Nex Machina, My Friend Pedro seems to scratch that same itch.
I played three levels in total of My Friend Pedro and while the first two were rather “normal” in their layout, the third level found my character on a motorcycle speeding down the street and engaging with enemies that were in cars or on motorcycles. The mechanics roughly stayed the same as I could still perform front flips and utilize bullet-time to slow down the action. There was also a boss to engage with near the level’s end. It was a nice change of pace from the standard levels and also gave me an idea as to how boss fights might work in My Friend Pedro.
To close my demo, the game’s developer flashed forward to one of the later stages of My Friend Pedro which utilized a skateboard that you could not only ride but also utilize as a weapon to kick at enemies. The dev also took over the controls from me at this time and seeing some higher-level play from someone that new all of the ins and outs of the game really excited me and made me look more forward to mastering the mechanics of My Friend Pedro when it releases. Plus, having seen both the skateboard level and motorcycle level one after another made me even more intrigued by what other tricks might be up this game’s sleeve.
While I also credit My Friend Pedro a lot for its phenomenal controls and gameplay, I also have to give a shoutout to the writing. Even though I only saw a small slice of this dialogue due to having played such a small amount of the game, it seems pretty witty. Games that are gameplay-focused like this rarely have to do much legwork in the story department, in my opinion, but if My Friend Pedro can provide a chuckle or two over the course of the experience then I’ll more than oblige.
My Friend Pedro is right up my alley and I cannot wait to dig into it more when it launches next year on PC and Switch. If you like high-score chasing games that’ll keep you coming back over and over like I do, this is one that I highly recommend you keep an eye on.