My friend John Wick.
My Friend Pedro, on paper, is super cool. It’s a sidescroller where you, with a full set of guns, kill your enemies using acrobatics, slow motion, and the environment around you. Trailers showing off the game make it look beautiful, but there was a question nagging me: Would it actually feel good to play?
My initial answer was a solid “no.” Before I got good, the controls felt very cumbersome. Shooting guns happens with ZR, clicking in the left analog stick controls slow motion, L controls a spinning move where you’re temporarily invincible, ZL controls aim and/or secondary fire depending on the gun, and the kick is mapped to X. While it’s hard to picture what I’m talking about from just button inputs alone, the controls felt hard to work with for, I’d say, the first half of the game. Nothing felt right to me, and as a result, the first half consisted of me running into a room, slowing down time, spamming my invincibility spin, shooting dudes, and moving on to the next area.
Once I got used to the controls, I had significantly more fun with the gameplay. It (eventually) felt good to make a plan, run into the room, and carefully execute each acrobatic massacre. While it’s not exactly a puzzle game, the best encounters in the game feel like you’re completing a puzzle. I especially like using the environment to kill enemies. A great example is when you bounce bullets off a frying pan in the air to kill enemies in all directions. The guns feel pretty good too—a lot like what I imagine Hotline Miami would feel like as a sidescroller.
The controls taking half of the several-hour game to feel good is not the only issue I have. After the game starts to feel better to play, that’s when My Friend Pedro starts to get a little more repetitive. There’s a lot of the game that can be solved with “turn on slow motion, shoot dudes, and use your invincible spinning move.” The game does try to mix it up using stages that are about solving more traditional puzzles, like lasers you have to jump through using platforming rather than guns, but these kinds of levels, which especially show up in the back half of the game, are hit-or-miss.
To offset the repetition is a multiplier-driven scoring system that rewards creative play, but I didn’t feel overly compelled to engage with it beyond, “I killed 9 enemies! Cool!” As for the story, which has its moments, it probably won’t be enough to carry you through the game either. There isn’t a ton of story before the end of the game, and all you really need to know is, “an imaginary banana convinces you to kill stylishly.”
My Friend Pedro seems like the kind of game that either clicks with you or it doesn’t. If you’re a patient player who likes killstreaks, points, and stylish gameplay, you might like this a lot. If you’re like me and have less patience for a game that feels unintuitive for the first 20 levels out of 40, the final product might not click so easily.