Style Over Substance Done Right

By: Devonte Griffiths

Game: My Friend Pedro

Platform: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Rating: T for Teen

Price: $19.99

Most video games are built on the premise of a power fantasy that makes the player feel empowered through playing. My Friend Pedro takes this common power fantasy and adds its own unique flair to create a game that makes the player feel like they’re playing through a blockbuster action scene.

The story doesn’t try at all to make sense of the ridiculous scenarios the player is constantly placed in. The unnamed hero is led by the titular Pedro, a talking, floating banana. From killing bounty hunters dressed as Santa Claus to assassinating the creator of the internet, nothing is taken seriously in this game. Though the story is nonsensical, the game’s presentation is filled with style.

The style of the game is evident from the very start. The colors on each model make them pop out from the game’s beautiful backgrounds that are filled with dozens of little easter eggs. The simple user interface is seamless and makes racking up a high score feel more impactful with every stylish kill getting a visual signifier. The slight screen blur when slowing down time really makes each slow-motion kill worth it.

As a platform shooter, the game focuses on style over everything else. From the start, looking cool is prioritized above defeating every enemy efficiently. With a score multiplier that increases with each kill, the game incentivizes the player to blaze through the level as fast as possible. The guns given to the player are fairly standard; a shotgun, dual pistols, Uzis and an assault rifle. The simple guns are only a means to poke at the player’s creativity. The game constantly rewards the player for going out of their way to do ridiculous stunts while taking out enemies. Paired with the ability to slow down time, the player will be constantly seeking new ways to make themselves feel amazing.

The biggest factor that makes the game feel so incredible is its level design. The levels are acutely designed to stretch the player’s imagination. Enemies can be taken out in multiple different ways. The levels continually introduce new mechanics like ziplines, skateboards, sliding doors, rappel ropes and much more. These mechanics build on each other from level to level and demand the player keep up with its blistering pace. Alongside the different enemies found in each stage, the gameplay experience stays fun and exhilarating throughout its entire runtime.

While playing normally, the game can be beaten in a mere five  hours. However, the main enjoyment from a score-focused game like this comes from replaying the levels repeatedly to get the highest rank. With a sleek style and a focus on making the player feel as awesome as possible, My Friend Pedro manages to make style over substance work in its favor.