PAX Aus Hands On: My Friend Pedro (Switch)
A lot of video games present the promise of putting you in the starring role of a movie and making you an action hero. This normally results in a lot of scripted sequences where things explode and fall apart, and you’re only given an illusion of control. What stood out in the demo of My Friend Pedro that we played was how every moment-to-moment interaction felt like a part of an action scene ripped out of the most exciting and well-choreographed of movies. The trailers for the game showed off all sorts of ridiculous stunts and feats which had me expecting a confusing mess of controls that prevented all but the most skilled of players from pulling any of them off, but I was impressed with how simple to play it actually was. After watching others play and being handed the controller I was flipping, rolling and kicking through combos in no time at all.
My Friend Pedro was giving me some strong Hotline Miami vibes right from the beginning – you wake up in a dodgy place with no real idea of where you are, and you’re instructed by your friend Pedro (a floating banana who may or may not exist) to break out, killing anyone you encounter along the way. From there you get involved in a series of increasingly dangerous (and spectacular) firefights, building up to a vehicle chase where you have to escape from and kill a crazed butcher in a meat truck. Along the way you’ll have brought about ridiculous amounts of carnage, taking out dozens of mobsters in all sorts of over the top ways. I’m sure the story and encounters will only get weirder as the game progresses.
You move through the building you’re trapped in along a 2D plane, being able to jump, dodge and roll around to avoid enemy gunfire and get into advantageous positions. Your means of offence is your dual-wielded guns and a powerful kick that can fling items into enemies faces’ or turntables into cover. You’ve got a small set of abilities that you’re able to chain together to charge through each room in the most chaotic way possible. The coolest feature is that you’re able to point each of your weapons in a different direction. This seemed like it would be really fiddly and unintuitive, but it actually works really well. When you’re aiming at a point, you can hold down the left trigger to lock in one of your weapons to aim at that spot until you release it. Then you’re free to aim the other weapon with the analogue stick just like you were before. Combining this with your ability to slow down time means that you become a one-man agent of destruction; flipping about the room, shooting enemies on opposite sides of the room, kicking knives in the faces of the survivors and then rolling away to safety without a scratch.
We were having an absolute ball with this game, cheering and shouting as whoever was playing pulled off expert maneuvers like kicking a frying pan into the air and shooting it, causing bullets to ricochet into a flurry of pain for all nearby enemies. It was quite easy to pick up the controller and become a badass, and I’m sure with more practice you could pull off even more slick feats than I was. The interface gives you all the information you need to calculate the results of your actions, like showing the exact arc an object will fly if you kick it, meaning that if your execution is correct then you’ll be able to run through the exact plan you’ve devised in your head. But there’s plenty of room and support for improvisation if things don’t exactly go your way.
Pedro was definitely the most exciting thing I played at PAX and I’m itching to get my hands on it again.