Ever since GIFs of the side-scrolling parkour shooter My Friend Pedro made their rounds on social media, I was immediately enamoured with the title. No matter what the player was doing in these GIFs—although it was usually some form of brutally-cool execution—there was always a sense of style and grace filling the screen at any given moment.

It turns out that those GIFs are the result of someone who truly knows what they’re doing with the game, but that doesn’t mean that adequate players like myself can’t pull off some intensely satisfying moves through Pedro’s intuitive control scheme.

As with all stylish action games, it takes learning to become truly great at it. Thankfully, Pedro does accommodate for the greenhorn player. A simple tutorial guides you through the basic movement: aim with the right stick, separate the aim of a dual-wielded weapon set with the left trigger, jump with the normal jump button, left bumper to spin and dodge bullets, X to kick, and click in the left stick to enter a slow-motion Focus mode.

A GIF showing how bloody cool I am at My Friend Pedro
We couldn’t possibly do a review of My Friend Pedro without making our own GIFs!

That’s it, it’s all you really need to know. With the ability to jump-kick off every surface in a level—outside of mines and lasers—Pedro always manages to feel slick when you’re simply making your way through a level. Some missions introduce skateboards to the mix, a rather unruly to control method of transportation that can make for some amazingly entertaining combat encounters.

“Combat is a blood-soaked ballet dance, albeit with more shell casings and talking fruit than your average opera house showing.”

One mission late into the game grants most enemies a shield. The only way to remove the shield is by shooting a tiny energised receptor somewhere in the room. Pedro does not make this a simple task: some enemies’ shields are protected by another shield, some are placed behind the shielded person, meaning you’ll have to find a way to lure them out. It sounds like an ordeal that would take a while, a minute at most, but all of these encounters are over in a few seconds once you know what you’re doing.

There’ll be a moment where everything you can do in Pedro starts to click. When you get a grasp of wall-jumping, aim-splitting, kicking and dodging and how they work together, that’s when you’ll become the swagger-as-hell killing machine that the game’s mascot banana asks you to be. Banana? Oh, yeah, there’s a hint of a story here but, alas, it’s bland, forgettable and features the most basic dialogue stories can offer.

Another GIF of My Friend Pedro which is less cool than the one just above
Shotguns are incredibly powerful in My Friend Pedro. Look at how they smush people into giblets!

Thankfully, My Friend Pedro is all about high-octane action and high scores, the purest form of video game. Combat is a blood-soaked ballet dance, albeit with more shell casings and talking fruit than your average opera house showing. While it could have done with some more end-game levels that allowed every in-game mechanic to work alongside itself in a trial of reflexes, what’s here is a great time. After all, if your major complaint is, “I wish there was more of it”, that’s technically a positive.

My Friend Pedro is at the forefront of sidescrolling action. While it will undoubtedly take a while to fully get to grips with its controls, the time investment is worthwhile. As soon as you finish, you’ll be returning to prior levels in an attempt to beat your score. It’s an addicting, adrenaline-fuelled, action-packed adventure that ends just a little bit too soon.

My Friend Pedro is out now on Nintendo Switch and PC.