Madness powers the core of Mother Russia Bleeds. Part-Doom, part-Double Dragon, it’s a savagel, fast-moving, and gloriously disgusting beat-’em-up with a lot of potential.
My time with Mother Russia Bleeds started in an unknown facility, where it was apparent there were unsanctioned tests being performed on inmates. As one of four being held in a cell, I was Natasha, a woman sporting hiking boots and a bruised face.
There are a handful of other characters to choose from, ranging from bearded madmen to cliched strongmen looking like Drago from Rocky IV. Asleep on the ground, the group remains stationary, frequently tended by a hazmat-wearing officer with a mysterious syringe.
One day, the team breaks out of the cell and begins making their way through the facility in an attempt to escape. Having escaped a drug-induced coma, all four are unfamiliar with the surroundings and are constantly reacting to some of the horrors they see within, be it large, pulsating organs attached to walls or the overwhelming stench of death.
It’s at this point I’m introduced to my drug of choice: a plain syringe filled with neon green liquid. This drug is at the heart of MRB’s combat: press the left trigger, and it heals. Press the right, and it launches me into a berserk mode, where punches move faster, kicks are more powerful, and my character suddenly takes on a fiery amount of energy for a brief amount of time.
As we progress through the level, we encounter newer and newer enemy types; scientists, soldiers, officers, mutants, animals, and...mutant officers? We purposefully avoided story spoilers as to keep some air of mystery around MRB leading up to its release, so I wasn’t entirely sure what shot me at the very end. Basically, it looked like a cartoonish KGB agent with a blobfish for a head, and he killed me easily.
Mother Russia Bleeds is a disgusting romp covered in blood, vomit, drugs, alcohol, flesh, and...human feces. Characters frequently puke when witnessing new atrocities in the facility, skulls are crushed in a cloud of bloody mist when one character grabs an enemy in berserk mode, characters are constantly jabbing needles into their skin for healing, heal others by imparting some of their own blood and--most disgusting of all--drug refills are obtained by siphoning the contaminated blood from downed corpses.
It’s disgusting, but not off-putting. In fact, I’d describe it as downright amusing, due to MRB’s sincerity and earnestness to drive home the gross and unsanitary nature of the activities in the facility. After a while, you wipe the blood and vomit from the corners of your mouth and jab another dirty needle into your forearm with the same familiarity as coughing or tucking a hair behind your ear.
Combat is challenging in Mother Russia Bleeds. Players have buttons dedicated to rushing, jumping, throwing, kicking, punching, and taunting, each of which can be combined in any number of ways to dispatch of enemies. Weapons can be equipped, and one of my favorite aspects was working with teammates to tag team guards by launching one into the air while a partner jump kicks them back to the cold ground. But timing is everything, and the visuals of Mother Russia Bleeds were confusing at times, making it difficult for me to track down my character on-screen. It’s possible this is deliberate, but more often than not it felt like a cheaper way of aping difficulty.
My list of grievances is embarrassingly short in comparison to what I found favorable about Mother Russia Bleeds, however. It’s a solid game, a hyper-violent romp through an alternate history, propagandist imaging of Russia with a horrific edge. Those who don’t mind getting drenched in blood at guts while maintaining a wicked, carnage-hungry grin will likely enjoy playing Mother Russia Bleeds both locally and online when it eventually releases later this month on PC and toward the end of the year on PS4.
Cassidee Moser posted a new article, Mother Russia Bleeds Preview: Gore Galore