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<pre><pre>Slo-mo shoots them up My friend Pedro will obsess you about high scores

It's a good time to be an indie developer who makes games for the Nintendo Switch, and the most recent title to prove that this is the case My friend Pedro.

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From developer DeadToast Entertainment, the formal entity of sole designer Victor Agren and the famous indie publisher Devolver Digital, My friend Pedro is an evolution of Agren & # 39; s Flash experience. Fans of Adult Swim web games may have played six months ago. Now as a full console title, it is easily one of the most stylish and aesthetically distinctive games I have played for a while. Even as a $ 20 indie game, meant to play just a few sessions, the game is really what matters, both the replay value and the way it encourages you to play with its perfection-demanding higher problems to play.

The core madness is simple, especially if you've ever played Hotline Miami or one of the titles that inspired it. You're a masked killer with a penchant for chasing bad guys, and this time there's a surreal talking banana to tell you where to go and what to do. Oh, of course there is also a pulsating synth wave soundtrack, and tons of bloody violence. What makes My friend Pedro standing apart is how, such as Hotline Miami, it can turn even the most casual players into scoring obsessives and fast runners who do everything to earn a coveted A or S rank in each of the 40 levels.

My friend Pedro shares much of his DNA with another recently released indie game called Katana Zero, which both contain a few well-known game ideas and combine them into a stylish package. The two titles are small team games published by Devolver and revolve around a distinctive slow-mo feature, and both focus on console gamers on the Nintendo Switch, with Steam releases to reach the PC audience. In Katana Zero, you can delay the time to bend or evade bullets with a samurai sword. In My friend Pedro, you delay the time to make gunshots more precise and yourself more acrobatic. You will also see badass while you do it.

My friend Pedro has some really spectacular touches that make it different from your standard bullet time shoot & # 39; em up. First, there is a unique, albeit rather complicated, series of air maneuvers that you can perform to earn extra points and look even cooler while emptying a room with bad guys. These include somersaults in the air, which require you to slow down time, flip off walls and ridges, shoot in two directions at the same time, and rotate while turning or rotating to avoid bullets.


Image: DeadToast Entertainment / Devolver Digital

Do all of this at once – a feat that is not so easy, given the console's sometimes cumbersome control mechanism – and you can shower an entire room with bullets in almost all directions, while avoiding enemy fire while turning and making a somersault. On the advice of a friend, I remapped the slow-mo function from the L3 position to the right bumper button on Switch and started playing almost exclusively on the Switch Pro controller when I wanted to be more precise with my goal. That helped a lot. Once you get the hang of it, you feel like a Keanu Reeves character, equal parts The Matrix and John Wick.

The other great extras are environmental items and vehicles that confuse the standard breaker formula, which after the first dozens of times you are forced to break through a closed door can get overloaded or through a window in a room full of enemies to jump. . For example, shake a frying pan in the air and you can shoot it with bullets from the other side of a strip of open window to deflect and lower bullets into a room that you are not even in. There are also motorcycles and skateboarding sections that use the standard mix of hectic action and delayed acrobatics and put them on fast-moving rails.


Image: Dead Toast Entertainment / Digital Devolver

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But beyond the relatively thin story and the first shine of the slow-mo recordings, what will it make My friend Pedro click for you, or not, is whether you are really interested in scoring. That is where the true depth of the game comes, and it will not be for everyone.

My friend Pedro has a steep learning curve for players who want to try it at the higher difficulty levels, which is needed for those who shoot for high scores on the scoreboards. You can get an A and even S ranking on normal and hard, but you have to switch on the banana mode for the extra score improvement to get anywhere near a top 10 score. And I imagine the players who are deeply involved My friend Pedro will mainly look for the highest possible scores, because there is really no reason to play levels again.

That said, the game never fully communicates central concepts – such as being hit by an enemy bullet to drastically reduce the time you have to continue chaining, or that chain combinations need your time carefully when you last put down enemy to give you have enough buffer to reach the next. Or that you can adjust goal help if you notice that you need to be more precise, manually targeted to prevent damage and possibly spoil a combo, which in turn spoils a whole run if you go for a high score. You are left to sort out those tricks yourself.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. In the first phase I discovered that combining a combo was possible for each of the 21 enemies, and about 45 minutes later I achieved it through a mix of trial-and-error problem-solving and fast-running power. I saw my high score jump up and earned me an S-ranking and a place at number five on the worldwide Switch scoreboards.

Admittedly, it was day one, and my performance has since been stripped off, but it was a staggering revelation to find out the secret of the top regions' scores, and I received a reasonably satisfactory reward. The chaining of every enemy in a single combo becomes much, much more difficult in later stages, so I have not been able to get close to the top 10 at those levels.

Keep in mind that this is a game designed around this type of obsessive repeat session. For $ 20, you still get value for money if you just play the main story and maybe try a few levels on harder difficulty levels, but there's not much to spend your time on unless you really want to dig deep and plan those perfected runs .

That said, the magic of a devilishly simple game such as My friend Pedro draws you in with its flashy appearance and keeps you around with its depth. Prepare for replay … a lot. It takes a while to nail a perfect run, but it's worth it when you pull one out.

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My friend Pedro is now available on Nintendo Switch and PC.