My Friend Pedro is the Max Payne Follow Up I've Dreamed Of
Gimme all the slow-mo, bullets, and bananas you've got. Pronto!
My friend Logan knows me incredibly well. We were friends growing up but I moved. He later stumbled across me on Twitter and we have been friends ever since. We’ve podcasted, partied, and traveled together since that fateful Twitter interaction. Logan knows my taste in games so well, that he often tells me “You’ll like this,” or “You’ll never play that,” and he is usually pretty spot on. Before my appointment for My Friend Pedro by Deadtoast Entertainment and Devolver Digital, Logan said, “You’ll like it.”
My response after playing: “MY FRIEND PEDRO. GOOD GRAVY.”
My Friend Pedro is 2D Max Payne 3. That’s the best way I could pitch it to someone. Its zany dialogue melded with the rad “how fancy can you kill?” gunplay has put My Friend Pedro near the top of my Switch hit—I mean—wishlist when it comes out in June. All it’s missing is a timeless Hawaiian shirt.
I got to play a chunk of levels around what felt like the beginning of the game that culminated in a high-speed chase boss fight. I watched some footage of the game before heading to PAX East 2019, as research for my appointment. Watching the footage, the premise of the game appealed to me, but I was worried about how the game would control. It seemed like too much to wrap my head around at once. Between jumping, rolling, dodging, dual-wielding (with the ability to separate aim), and slow motion, I thought it’d be a lot to get the hang of on a 2D plane.
I am pleased to say my concerns were abated immediately. The tutorial is paced excellently to give you the building blocks to twist and twirl with the grace of trapeze artist while simultaneously murdering everyone in your path. The silent protagonist is a bit floatier than I expected, but this makes aiming an easier task. It feels right for the kind of game My Friend Pedro is as it makes finesse possible.
It wasn’t long before I was trying to fly through the level, staying on the ground as little as possible. Staying in cover can work in these early levels, but the number of goons amped up considerably near the end of my time with the demo, making staying still a death sentence. Fluidity of movement was key, not only to survive and keep a combo going, but to keep a grin plastered across my face.
While the protagonist may be mute, his floating banana friend named, you guessed it, Pedro is most definitely not the silent type. Pedro serves as the teacher in tutorials, worldly informant, and hilarious commentator. I was actively chuckling at the demo booth with thousands of people walking around me at PAX East, not a care in the world. Pedro’s presence and dialogue gives the game a bright, comedic energy that most gun games where you murder everyone with style for points don’t have.
Each level ends with a scorecard and rank. You get points for chaining kills in a combo, killing everyone in a level, not dying, and a speedy time – the usual factors. Getting that S Rank is definitely going to keep me running through levels, learning the lay of the land, and murdering villains with style.
The best tool for nailing that high score seems to be the slow-motion Focus meter. It’s a lengthy bar, the same length as your health meter, and refills automatically and when you kill someone. This highly encourages its use. I wish I used it more instead of treating it like a precious commodity. Instead of being a power-up to get out of a tight situation, I think the Focus should be used rather freely. Don’t hoard the slow-mo goodness, but spread it freely, like the bullets from your dual submachine guns.
To cap off my 15-minute demo, I completed a motorcycle chase shoot-out with a boss battle to boot. Not unlike John Wick, I was dealing serious carnage on two wheels as the big baddie sent his cronies after me. The actual boss fight took me a couple of lives to get a grasp on the attack pattern, but I got it down and popped a wheelie to victory! This level showed me that My Friend Pedro has a lot more up its sleeve than just jumping around inside buildings.
I can’t wait to see what else Deadtoast Entertainment and Devolver Digital, and Pedro the Banana have cooked up for me when My Friend Pedro releases this June for PC and Nintendo Switch.