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Mother Russia Bleeds

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Le Cartel Studio
Release Date: Sept. 5, 2016

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Preview - 'Mother Russia Bleeds'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 30, 2015 @ 12:45 a.m. PDT

Mother Russia Bleeds is a co-op brawler that's overflowing with style and brutal action. Battle solo or alongside friends locally and online as a crew of fighters who must overcome an oppressive authority in an alternate USSR.

A lot of beat-'em-ups often fall victim to the same pitfalls. The combat is boring, the hit detection is not precise, or it just isn't fun. Mother Russia Bleeds was the last game that I saw at Devolver Digital's awesome little area outside of the Staples Center at E3 2015, and it was easily one of the favorite things I saw all day. We sat down in a trailer, were handed a controller, and proceeded to check out one of the goriest, vulgar and smart brawlers that I've happened upon in some time.

At first, Mother Russia Bleeds is merely something familiar, thanks to a pretty standard set of controls. You can jump, perform attacks, charge up the attacks for greater power, and you can knock back foes to get some breathing room. You also have a dash that can be used evasively or to enhance your attacks, and you can grab and throw enemies. It's common brawler stuff at this point, but bear with me.

The plot wasn't readily apparent, but it's important to realize that everyone in the game world is psychotically high on some sort of drug. This drug is the common thread that ties together all of the gameplay. You have a full syringe that offers three uses, and they can be used to heal yourself or enter a psychotic rage where you move faster and your grab instantly kills the enemy. The drug is both your power and your lifeline.

Of course, it's a problem when you run out of the drug, so the game is all about letting you bash skulls, straddle a downed enemy, and use power attacks to bust his melon. Enemies who have been hit with lighter attacks may violently convulse on the ground. As they do, you can jab your syringe in them and steal their drug for your own use. It's the only way to get more, and it means you have to practice some restraint, so you don't cut off your only source. However, gathering it puts you at risk since you are defenseless while you do so. It gives the entire game a sort of risk and reward loop, and it's absolutely brilliant in its simplicity.

Mother Russia Bleeds features four playable characters, all of which are standard Russian stereotypes. There isn't a noticeable difference between them, except for their animations and kill moves, so you choose whichever one seems cool to you at the time. A PvP mode is planned, but the main draw for me is the four-player co-op through the story mode.

The content is ludicrously bizarre in some of the best ways. At times, you're seriously rolling through places such as a nightclub like a bunch of murderous drug fiends, ripping people's heads off and fighting Chippendale dudes and topless women with animal masks. You'll find yourself locked in a room that's surrounded by people in gimp suits while a giant with cleavers is attacking and the lights are fading in and out.

Mother Russia Bleeds is a spectacle of violence, but that's not all it has to offer. The combat feels incredibly focused when it comes to basics, but the drug system is where it really shines. You play the game as a balancing act in how you use it and when, and it adds a whole new layer to how you play the game. The projected release date is March 2016 for the PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux, and I am looking forward to getting more time with it.

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