Title: Mother Russia Bleeds
Developer: Le Cartel Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Action, Fighting, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: Mature 17+ Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence
Release Date: 15/11/2018
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
Mother Russia Bleeds is an ultra-violent co-op brawler overflowing with an unmistakable style and unforgettably brutal action for up to four players at once. Set in an alternate U.S.S.R, the story centers on a desperate crew of imprisoned street fighters that must overcome an oppressive criminal authority and forced drug addictions through any means necessary. Battle solo or alongside friends in an exceptional story mode campaign or harden your resolve in the savage Survival Mode.
Merciless Struggle: Pull yourself up from the cold, hard ground to punch, claw, and stab your way through the hardened ghettos, violent prisons, grim laboratories, and decadent clubs.
Powerful Narcotics: Embrace your crippling addiction with a quick injection to crush skulls, snap necks, and tear flesh from bone in a drug-fueled maniacal rage. Find your next fix flowing through the veins of your fallen foes and jam your needle into their convulsing bodies to fill your beloved syringe.
Local Co-Op: Crack your knuckles and select a combatant to go it alone or rumble alongside friends in an ultraviolent co-op ruckus with up to four players.
I’m just going to leave this here…
I would rather play Mother Russia Bleeds than Streets of Rage.
Now, let me provide some context. Streets of Rage on the Sega Mega Drive is my all time favourite gaming memory. It is the first game that I completed, and my dad joined me on that epic journey. I spent countless hours on it, and it was my first true introduction to what gaming would offer me in the years that have followed. Fast forward to 2018 and after the earlier release of Raging Justice, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I thought my time spent playing Streets of Rage-esque brawlers was finished for the time being.
Enter Mother Russia Bleeds, developed by Le Cartel Studio and published by the well-renowned Devolver Digital – marketed as ‘purveyors of fine digital entertainment wares from independent artists worldwide.’ That they are! ‘Mother Russia Bleeds’ takes everything that was both once great and still great about Streets of Rage and adds some modern touches which make for a remarkable experience. Read on to find out how in this Rapid Review!
Looks and Sounds
On the surface, ‘Mother Russia Bleeds’ looks like any other arcade brawler with pixelated graphics and rough edges. When the game is in motion, however, it comes to life. I love the artistry, and the attention to detail is deceiving. The screen tends to be split into two moving parts: one is the ‘floor’ where you will spend your time manoeuvring your character between the hordes of enemies and defeating them through combat; the second is the ‘backdrop’ which serves to provide some context to the proceedings and is also animated too. From prisoners eating in the canteen to crowds cheering as you fight, there is always something to appreciate on screen.
Coupled with these excellent on-screen displays of detail, the environment itself shows signs of destruction and wear as you proceed through the crowds. I successfully body-slammed an opponent, and the ground cracked beneath him. It was moments like this, of which there were many, which highlighted to me just how conscious the developers were to provide an experience that was fulfilling and interesting.
The audio that accompanies all of the on-screen action has a ring about it very much similar to ‘Hotline Miami’ – funnily enough, associated with Devolver Digital too. The music is funky, fresh and very much suited to the gameplay itself: frantic and vibrant. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the beats as I fought pigs, rats, army men and much much more.
Gameplay and Replayability
As stated in the developer’s notes, ‘Mother Russia Bleeds’ is an ultra-violent co-op brawler set in an alternate U.S.S.R during the 1980s. There is a revolution, spearheaded by you as one of four playable characters, as you fight the oppressive authorities who have forced the masses to become addicted to drugs, using this for their gain. What follows is a ‘story’ mode across nine levels where you are met by countless authority figures and ‘nekro’ infected individuals who are intent on stopping you from progressing.
Armed initially with a vial of ‘Nekro’ – used to either revitalise health or enter ‘Berserk’ mode – you will traverse a series of landscapes which are steeped in personality and brimming with obstacles to overcome. From baseball bats to golf clubs, pistols to AK47s, you will use all weapons at your disposal to defeat the evil forces raining havoc amongst the U.S.S.R. It is here where I feel that ‘Mother Russia Bleeds’ has stepped outside the realms of Streets of Rage and created their lane.
The combat itself is exceptional. Both engaging and intuitive, I was able to fully utilise the weapons on offer and produce some slick combinations. There are two examples which I believe highlight this most effectively. Example 1: an enemy jumped in the air to kick me. I jumped, caught them in mid-air and threw them to the ground in one swift, well-animated action. Example 2: I picked up a baseball bat and threw it at the enemy. It bounced off them, I caught it, then hit the next enemy with it.
Outside of story mode, there is an additional mode which can have a subsequent impact on how you then experience the story. Known only as the ‘Arena’, you access one of the settings you have previously completed in the story mode and fight against wave after wave of enemy. Once you reach Wave 10, you then unlock a new ‘vial’ to be used in the story. Ranging from receiving additional health every time you enter the berserk mode to others that directly affect the muscle power, there is a lot on offer to make it interesting and varied.
With four players local co-op on offer here, there are naturally four different characters to choose from. ‘Sergei’, ‘Ivan’, ‘Natasha’ and ‘Boris’ make up the resistance, and each has their own stats which support different playstyles in-game. Ranked out of four stars for ‘force’, ‘speed’, ‘range’ and ‘jump’, they are varied enough that most gamers will find a style that suits them best
Oftentimes it can be unfair to compare a game to a cult classic, especially if it does not conjure up positive thoughts about the one being reviewed. Le Cartel Studio and Devolver Digital have nothing to worry about here, as the creativity, ingenuity and freshness with which this project has been approached makes for a game set for the modern times. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience with Mother Russia Bleeds, and I recommend you take the opportunity to do the same.
PLEASE NOTE: This game includes very adult themes and as such is not suitable for anyone under the age of 17.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Mother Russia Bleeds on the Nintendo eShop NOW at the following address, https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/mother-russia-bleeds-switch