My Friend Pe­dro

Flash moves and a friendly ba­nana make for an im­pos­si­bly slick shooter

EDGE - - CONTENTS - De­vel­oper Dead­Toast En­ter­tain­ment Pub­lisher De­volver Dig­i­tal For­mat PC, Switch Ori­gin Swe­den Re­lease 2019

PC, Switch

There’s no way to tell an anec­dote about play­ing My Friend Pe­dro with­out sound­ing like an over­imag­i­na­tive, sugar-ad­dled, hy­per­vi­o­lent tod­dler. For ex­am­ple: did we tell you about the time where a sen­tient ba­nana taught us how to con­trol time, and then we whizzed down a zi­pline up­side-down to head­shot two guards si­mul­ta­ne­ously, be­fore pirou­et­ting through a win­dow and onto a skate­board that we then kick­flipped into some­one’s face? You get the idea.

The idea in ques­tion is the work of Victor Ågren, and first orig­i­nated back in 2006 as a Flash game. “I al­ways loved the idea of it, the slow-mo­tion ac­ro­batic thing,” Ågren says. “Since I played Max Payne, ba­si­cally, I was like, ‘I want more!’ But it wasn’t un­til a year or two af­ter I left Me­dia Mol­e­cule that I de­cided I should fin­ish off that Flash game I had ly­ing around. So I did.” In 2014, dur­ing what was “the fi­nal breath of Flash, I think,” it fi­nally hit the in­ter­net, and im­me­di­ately proved pop­u­lar. “The gen­eral feel­ing around Flash games was that it’s okay to play around and do any­thing, and it’s not too se­ri­ous,” Ågren says. “I think that gives a cer­tain cre­ative free­dom. The main thing for me is the men­tal­ity be­hind it. When you create, the more pres­sure you put on your­self, the less you can let your mind wan­der.”

My Friend Pe­dro might be made in Unity now, but thanks to its Flash roots, its core sense of im­pro­vi­sa­tional fun re­mains. It’s a blood­thirsty, glo­ri­ously silly ‘Yes, and…’ sim­u­la­tor that com­pels you to pull off in­creas­ingly ridicu­lous John Wick-style stunts. A combo and scor­ing sys­tem pro­vides a tra­di­tional in­cen­tive. But it’s deft de­sign touches that re­ally power your de­sire to dance the most im­plau­si­ble mur­der fox­trot pos­si­ble.

In the first few lev­els, en­e­mies rarely move far, mean­ing that each room be­comes a kind of puz­zle. Your bul­let-time me­ter is gen­er­ous and re­fills quickly, let­ting you som­er­sault in slow-mo­tion while you med­i­tate upon your next move: a bul­let-dodg­ing, gun-fir­ing spin, per­haps, or a back­flip off the torso of an en­emy. It’s also es­sen­tial to care­fully align the tra­jec­tory of weapons and other deadly ob­jects with your vic­tims. The kick func­tions as a melee at­tack, or punts things such as fry­ing pans into en­emy heads or into the air. Shoot at it, and bul­lets ric­o­chet into goons. You can even split your aim with dual pis­tols: aim­ing one gun, then hold­ing a but­ton to fix it in place while you move the other, is a men­tal jug­gling act that even­tu­ally be­comes in­stinct.

We re­play lev­els over and over, try­ing to create the coolest end-of-level GIF high­light (share­able to Twit­ter), and the long­est port­man­teau: our ‘walljump-air-spin­dra­matic-en­trance-kill’ is judged to be ‘splen­did’ by our fruity ac­com­plice. “Game­play is a lan­guage, so I try to use the me­chan­i­cal as­pect as a form of hu­mour,” Ågren says. And it works: the best com­bos feel like well-told jokes – some­times fast, some­times slow, but al­ways down to tim­ing, skill and a bit of ad-lib to de­liver the killer punch­line.

When twirling through ware­houses pur­pose-built for such cre­ative vi­cious­ness is this elec­tric, how­ever, any­thing else falls flat. A mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing boss fight has us clear waves of en­emy rid­ers be­fore tak­ing down the gas can­is­ter-throw­ing Butcher – but lin­ing up shots across mul­ti­ple planes is finicky, and with our only gym­nas­tic op­tions be­ing bike flips, the lack of dy­namism is sorely felt. But Ågren prom­ises that each set-piece will fea­ture dif­fer­ent me­chan­ics, and will serve as re­fresh­ing in­ter­ludes to reg­u­lar lev­els. “Part of it is, as well, just keep­ing it in­ter­est­ing for me. When you work on the same thing for four years, you get tempted to make some­thing new. I think I tricked my­self. So I can make some­thing new, but I’ll put it in the game!”

An un­ex­pected sweet­ness ra­di­ates from Ågren’s gory shooter: it’s a story about friend­ship, al­though an un­con­ven­tional one. Above all, there’s a very Me­dia Mol­e­cule kind of sense that creativ­ity – and a good laugh – is best shared, and Ågren’s look­ing for­ward to work­ing in a team again af­ter Pe­dro re­leases. “The jour­ney be­comes a bit more valu­able when you share it with some­one, like a co-worker.” Or, in­deed, a ba­nana.

It’s a blood­thirsty, glo­ri­ously silly ‘Yes, and...’ sim­u­la­tor for ridicu­lous John Wick stunts

Victor Ågren, cre­ator

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