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Game Zone: Mother Russia Bleeds - Better Than SOR 4?

by Alessandro Ebersol (Agent Smith)

Well, as I wrote in my review of Streets of Rage 4, the game was a disappointment. But, it is a very difficult game to criticize, as it is very well done. How is anyone going to speak ill of SOR 4? Okay, we're not going to bash SOR 4 in the reviews, but let's say it should have been better. However, there is a game, which was released before SOR 4, but which captured the spirit of SOR and delivered much more than SOR 4.

What game is this? Mother Russia Bleeds

Mother Russia Bleeds is a beat 'em up video game, developed by the independent development studio Le Cartel Studio, based in France, and published by Devolver Digital. The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux on September 5, 2016, PlayStation 4 on December 3, 2016 and for Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2018.

What is Mother Russia Bleeds?

Mother Russia Bleeds has "beat 'em up" style gameplay, often compared to Streets of Rage and Double Dragon.

Renegade, the grandfather of MRB

However, one of its influences is the old game Renegade, which came out by the same company Technos Japan, but before Double Dragon.

Players are set up to fight through different levels of side-scrolling stages, using weapons, melee weapons or their bare hands to defeat enemies. When killed, some enemies start to have convulsions. Players can fill their syringes with the drug from the corpses of these enemies, which can then be injected to recharge health or enter frantic mode, which adds strength and speed to the player. The game can be played in single-player or local multiplayer co-op for up to four


Mother Russia Bleeds takes place in an alternative Soviet Union of the 1980s, ruled by the Russian mafia. Four Ruska Romani working for a man named Mikhail earn money by fighting on the streets, in the slums. In the midst of a struggle, government forces invade the operation and kidnap the four ''gypsies''.

The group wakes up a month later in an underground laboratory built under a government prison, where they were turned into guinea pigs for the preparation of an addictive drug called Nekro. They escape from their cell and escape from the laboratory, killing all the scientists and security guards on their way, while suffering increasingly intense hallucinations due to the Nekro drug, on whom they also depend to fight the injuries and obtain a monstrous force.

The Development

Mother Russia Bleeds was heavily inspired by Streets of Rage, Double Dragon and Renegade. Game development started in September 2013, after former Ubisoft Paris game designer Frédéric Coispeau quit his job and met web designer Alexandre Muttoni, with whom he formed Le Cartel Studio on August 20, 2013. Le Cartel Studio soon began to work on the story and some artwork for the game. In October 2013, the team welcomed its new programmer, Florian Reneau, where the new composer, Vincent "Fixions" Cassar, soon followed.

After a few productive months, Le Cartel Studio opened the Mother Russia Bleeds website, with the official announcement of its project, on March 1, 2014. At the end of that month, Le Cartel Studio uploaded a pre-alpha teaser of gameplay for Mother Russia Bleeds on March 30, 2014. The demo level of the game featured scenes from the "Night Club" level, which was heavily inspired by Hotline Miami, which led to a wide spread of the teaser. A week later, Le Cartel Studio announced that the game would be released in the first quarter of 2015 for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux, and if it sold well, also for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, as well as Xbox 360 and Xbox One, scheduled to go through a crowdfunding campaign, which was later canceled.

On June 18, 2014, Le Cartel Studio decided to let fans of its game's VK (Vkontakt, kind of Russian Facebook) page decide the names of the characters, which resulted in "Sergei", "Ivan", "Natasha" and "Boris". The pre-alpha teaser for Mother Russia Bleeds was later noticed by Dennaton Games folks Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin, the creators of Hotline Miami, who at the level shown in the teaser was inspired by Hotline Miami. Söderström and Wedin recommended the game to Devolver Digital, resulting in a partnership between the two companies a few months later.

At Sony's E3 2015 conference, Mother Russia Bleeds was officially announced at its new publisher, Devolver Digital, and was announced for PlayStation 4. The first trailer for the game followed shortly after Sony's press conference, which, in addition to PlayStation 4, also confirmed the game for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. As announced on August 10, 2016, Mother Russia Bleeds was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux on September 5, 2016. The standard version, and the Dealer Edition of the game, which includes a second copy of the game, was released , the original soundtrack by Vincent "Fixions" Cassar, and the mini-documentary Behind the Schemes. On the same day, a port for PlayStation 4 was announced, the final version of which would be released on December 3, 2016.

The game was created on the Unity (2D) engine, which allowed the game to be released on many platforms.

Review: Mother Russia Bleeds

Now, I will do my analysis of the game. The version I'm going to review is the one sold on Steam.


After disappointing myself with SOR 4, I wondered if the Beat Em Up genre had run out, since SOR 4, as a continuation of the franchise, was very weak. Something like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a fourth sequel far short of what the franchise once was. However, Mother Russia Bleeds was a pleasant surprise. MRB was what SOR 4 should have been: visceral, hardcore and really, really fun. Now, let's go to the game analysis.


The graphics are fantastic, mixing the retro pixelated look with very modern visual effects: There is motion blur when the characters attack, in a very realistic way, despite the retro look.

Other than that, there are many visual details that add to the experience, such as characters that bleed, and as they take damage and their faces change, with black eyes, bleeding mouths and missing teeth. Very interesting graphics decisions that the developers made.


There's not much to comment on in-game audio, it's fantastic! It seems that the composer left some club of the 80's, where they played the English underground. Yes, the sound evokes a New Order, from the beginning of its career, but much more sinister and heavy. Very good work by the composer Vincent Cassar.


The game has everything to be the future of the Beat Em Up genre: It is fast, cruel, violent and dark.

There is not enough praise for this masterpiece. With up to 4 players, it recognizes joypads without any problem, it has several pre-configured languages, both for the dialogs in the game and for the interface. The game features arcade campaign, survival and boss rush modes. It also allows you to adjust the graphic mode to CRT, where it mimics the oval shape of an old tube screen, with the famous scanlines.

Also, this game gets it right where the famous SOR 4 got it wrong: the characters have the dash, the run, which gives another dynamic to the game, both in attack and defense. The game requires an Nvidia or AMD accelerator card. It does not work with Intel onboard video.


Buy. Buy when you can, you will not regret. The game is very worthwhile.

And here, a video review of the game, running on PCLinuxOS.

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