When your people are being experimented upon and literally pulled off the streets to endure a life of pain-filled hell, you probably aren’t going to try and solve the problem in a peaceful manner.
But what this game tries to do is to push the boundaries of the grotesque in an effort to linger in the mind. No, Mother Russia Bleeds isn’t the longest of games, with eight levels to play through following a short tutorial, but it certainly does cast some graphic images into your mind. Whether it’s brutal beheadings or fighting your way through a depraved sex club, this is not a game you’re likely to want to play huddled around the TV with your family, though it does have couch co-op.
No, instead you’re going to want to find yourself three friends with a fetish for gore, because that’s what this game is all about. No matter whether you’re mauling your way through the streets, a laboratory or prison corridors, you rack up points and combos by varying your beat-em-up offence between punches, kicks and grabs.
Some enemies bring weapons to the table, which need to be kicked out of their hands before you can use them yourself – guns and knives produce one-hit kills, naturally, while helmets, clubs and a range of other things can simply be used in order to batter enemies into oblivion. Leathering enemies with the weapons is always more fun than worrying about producing combos.
And it is about pummelling – when you knock enemies to the ground, you can then pounce upon them for repeated head strikes until their brains are scattered all over the floor, eyeballs and all. Those who you don’t smash the heads of could convulse and allow you to extract necro, a substance slowly poisoning you but making you strong beyond belief in the interim.
It’s gory and it’s gruesome, even in its retro presentation. Of course, this is a beat-em-up inspired in no small part by the likes of Streets of Rage, so it works by unleashing groups of enemies at you as you work from left to right. Levels all end with a boss, with some of them offering a quite fun challenge but none of them feeling so difficult that some players will never manage to get past them.
Of course, the typical drawbacks of these games linger – enemies can be knocked out of the screen, and then hit you without you even seeing them from the border, and you need to be inch-perfect level with enemies in order to deal them any damage.
But Mother Russia Bleeds, while short, has a fun story to take in while it lasts. You won’t spend more than a week on it, most likely, but it’s one of the Switch’s better beat-em-ups.
Mother Russia Bleeds £13.49
Mother Russia Bleeds is violent and gory and definitely not for everyone, but tells an enjoyable pocket-sized story while it lasts.