Game Review #071: Mother Russia Bleeds (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Le Cartel Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Category: Action, Fighting, Arcade
Release Date: 11.15.2018
Buy Mother Russia Bleeds from the Nintendo eShop here.
Standing Out In A Crowd
The last few games that I’ve had the pleasure to review have all been beat ‘em ups, and as some have stumbled and some shined, I’ve yet to find the one that stands out from the pack—that is until I played Mother Russia Bleeds. When I was younger, I would play my SNES all the time, as it was and still is one of my all-time favorite systems. The game that got a lot of play time was Final Fight. Playing as the barrel-chested, green-overalls-wearing Mike Haggar, I’d walk the streets and pummel baddies like it was just another day at work. Something about being an almost super-powered individual, but still being human and flawed, was such a compelling concept to me.
It didn’t hurt that I loved action movies of the 80s and 90s, where most of the time the plot would consist of pitting a random good guy up against insurmountable odds that they would always overcome, but would at least sustain some flesh wounds and be bloodied up. I would wonder why they couldn’t make a decent beat ‘em up that would catch the hardcore touch that I felt while watching movies like Commando or Cobra. Well the developers over at Le Cartel Studio must have had an itch to make an M-rated game with those 80s and 90s action movies in mind, because their new game Mother Russia Bleeds is dripping with nostalgia from not only 90s beat ‘em ups, but also the hardcore action movies that are now classics.
The Revolution Is Here
The story is set in the 1980s in an alternate version of Russia that is run with an iron fist by the Soviet Union. The four playable main characters are gypsies Sergei, Ivan, Natasha, and Boris. They work by day fighting in the slums for the their friend Mikhail. One day, while fighting, the government raids the fights and captures them. You then wake up in a facility days later, strung out on a drug called Nekro, that is a lethal concoction that you are undoubtedly addicted to after being treated as a guinea pig by your abductees. It doesn’t take long for you to shake the cobwebs loose enough to break out of the room and start your attempt to escape and seek revenge. While your story unfolds, a larger story is also taking place in the background, which soon ties into the main story. The story is fun and could’ve easily been an ultra-violent 80s B movie.
Gameplay & Fun Factor
As far a beat ‘em up, the controls are similar to most classics in the genre, with your standard attack, heavy attack, jump, and you can grab items and enemies to either throw or pummel them as you hold on to them. The one mechanic I was surprised they left out was a power move to use when you’re surrounded and overwhelmed by enemies that games like Final Fight would use. They do implement something that helps in a pinch, but having something like a tornado kick or cyclone punch would’ve helped, even if it took a little bit of health each time—as games of old would do—as a trade-off to evade enemies. Instead, you just had to try and jump away from the madness. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Past that, as I mentioned, the controls and gameplay are rather standard, as there is nothing too complex. It shows you your hit counter as you hit an enemy, but doesn’t go out of the way to encourage large combos or tying moves together.
One mechanic that I was very happy made its way into the game was the ability to finish off an enemy by jumping on them and punching them until their face is rhubarb pie. Now, as I mentioned before, they do add a mechanic that helps you out of sticky situations in more than one way. As I said earlier, you are hooked on this drug called Nekro. Well, you can inject yourself throughout the game with this drug to refill your health bar, and you can also jam it into your neck, sending your character into a berserker rage where you become super strong, knocking large groups across the screen while grabbing enemies and popping their heads like pimples. So, you may ask, “How do I acquire this drug that’s going to come in so handy?” Well, it’s pretty easy: as you’re beating the life from the goons in each level, at random, some will fall to the ground and begin to have a seizure. You can then lay over their near-corpse and jam your hand into their body, sucking out the Nekro to fill your needles. While playing multiplayer, which is a complete blast, you can revive each other with the Nekro as well.
As I’ve laid out so far, this is call back to beat ‘em ups of old, but also ultra-violent movies of old, so it isn’t exactly kid-friendly, but that’s what makes this game stand out and be so special. It leans in on the ultra-violent and over-the-top hardcore action to make it stand out, and it works. There’s nothing like walking around with a toilet as a weapon and hitting goons in the face with it like I’m Babe Ruth. Not only can you pick up and use melee items like bats and pipes, but you can also pick up firearms like pistols and assault rifles, which allows you to just mow down your enemies in pure carnage. Just when you think the game can’t get any more crazy or violent, it completely outdoes itself by always upping the ante. The story mode can also be replayed in hard mode, and there are multiple endings and in game achievements to allow for a lot of replay value. There is also a separate endless arena mode you can play outside of the story mode.
The in-game sounds are perfectly placed, as you hear pigs squealing, homeless drug-addicted bums puking their guts up, or the way it thuds but yet clangs when a toilet slams against a completely naked skinhead trying to kill you. The music is pure 90s greatness, with upbeat, high-tempo rock. Visually, the game is beautiful and extremely disturbing all at once. If you can’t handle over-the-top hard M-rated images, then this isn’t the game for you, but Le Cartel Studio knows the audience they’re going for, and this is just right. The game ran smooth as butter both docked and handheld, even when there were tons of enemies on screen.
The gang over at Le Cartel Studio aimed to make an ultra-violent, unapologetically disturbing and over-the-top premise, and they succeeded on all levels. I had way too much fun playing this game. If you’re looking for something new, and enjoy beat ‘em ups, you must buy Mother Russia Bleeds. It felt like Streets of Rage directed by Quentin Tarantino and John Woo, which may sound insane, but that’s exactly what you get here: an insane trip that you won’t regret.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Buy Mother Russia Bleeds from the Nintendo eShop here.
Follow Le Cartel Studio
Follow Devolver Digital
*Review Code Provided by Tinsley PR