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Video Game / Mother Russia Bleeds

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Mother Russia Bleeds is a side-scrolling Beat 'em Up developed by Le Cartel released in 2016 and published by Devolver Digital. It is a deliberate throwback to old games of said genre such as Streets of Rage or Final Fight, mixing it with the ultra-violence and 1980's aesthetics of Devolver's own Hotline Miami, in which you must beat up waves of junkies, gangsters and other dangers with your fists and any weapon you can get your grubby mitts on.

Taking place an alternate universe version of Soviet Russia, the game stars four Gypsy pit-fighters: Sergei, Boris, Ivan and Natasha as their encampment is besieged by the Bratva while they are taken to become guinea pigs for the new street drug Nekro. Waking up, they find that they are now addicted to said drug and must fight their way across the Motherland in hope of seeking out an answer to what happened and vengeance to who did this to them, all the while trying to keep the drug from completely consuming them.


The game's unique mechanic is based on Nekro, which the players can use to either heal themselves or to enter a berserk state. In order to refill their supply, they must drain them from other addicts, who after defeat will convulse on the ground before they die.

The game features examples of:

  • Addiction-Powered: Nekro is supposedly just a street drug, but in the hands of the protagonists it makes them even more dangerous than they already were. There are different strains of it and must be unlocked through Arena Mode (except Kremlin Colonel):
    • Kremlin Colonel: The drug to begin with. Can be used to heal yourself/others, or enter berserk state. 3 charges.
    • Rose Kennedy: Turns an enemy to your side. Affected enemies must still be killed to proceed. 2 charges.
    • Purple Rain: Faster Nekro extraction so it will be less likely to be interrupted, but has only 1 charge.
    • Blue Lagoon: Increased healing when used on others, but can no longer enter berserk state. 3 charges.
    • White Russian: During berserk state, damage increased and enemies will be reduced into a mess when killed. 2 charges.
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    • Bloody Mary: Instantly kills an enemy. Does not work on bosses. 2 charges.
    • Orange Tundra: Teleports to an enemy during berserk state. 2 charges.
    • Greyhound: Regenerates health during berserk state. 1 charge.
    • Black Widow: Decapitates an enemy and knocks other enemies behind him when charging on during berserk state. 1 charge.
    • Moscow Mule: Extends berserk state when using a fatality on a foe, rather than ending it. 1 charge.
    • Godmother: Permanent, but watered-down berserk state. Continuously drains health until you have one HP left. Can no longer enter an actual berserk state and can only use the drug to heal. Also, enemies usually have their heads destroyed when killed in this berserk state, so this one is a bit Awesome, but Impractical. But can be a challenging experience. 3 charges.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The level 3 boss, who has a grinder constantly in pursuit of you, the shield wall in level 6, and the walls of flesh during the Nekro hallucinations in the final level.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Mikhail hits the Despair Event Horizon hard by the end of the game and commits suicide out of fear of what the Bratva will do to him should the party fail (as well as possible guilt over what his actions have turned the party into). While the party was furious with his betrayal before, that fury eventually calms down into disappointment and eventually pity by the time he offs himself.
  • Alternate Universe: The game takes place in a very different version of Soviet Russia circa 1986, in which the Bratva have almost complete control of the government.
  • Amazon Brigade: In level 3, the main enemies are a gang of drug-dealing women who are now occupying the Gypsy camp. Halfway through the level they are joined by a bunch of washed out prostitutes.
  • Ambiguously Brown/Race Lift: While Sergei looks like a blonde Caucasian in the actual game, he appears like a very dark-skinned man with black hair in the Launch Trailer.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Mikhail loses one of his arms when you meet him in the seventh level.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Since everyone starts the first level with minimal health and only one shot of Nekro, the game provides a twitching body with infinite Nekro at the end of the first room to fully heal yourself and top off with.
  • Anti-Hero: The protagonists are violent addicts who are simply beating anyone in their way to death in their path of vengeance, but end up becoming heroes of La Résistance.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI bots that can stand in for absent players aren't too bright, to say the least. Among other issues, they hoard Nekro, won't heal anyone but themselves with it, aren't aggressive enough to survive large fights, and lack the programming to properly fight certain bosses. In some cases, they'll even get stuck on the level geometry, leading to needless deaths. You will never earn the good ending because of that.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking/Large and in Charge: Bosses are larger and stronger than the surrounding mooks. The second level is set inside a prison and the level's boss is the prison warden; the third level's boss is the leader of a gang. Subverted with the Premier, who's a feeble old man.
  • Ax-Crazy: All the player characters to an extent, but especially Boris.
  • The Backwards Я: Mostly averted, since all text is either correct Russian (scenery writings) or fully translated in whatever language you selected (dialogs, interface, menus), the only exception being the font used in the title screen.
  • Badass Beard: Boris sports a huge and messy black beard. Ivan's beard is thick, short, and trimmed.
  • Bald of Awesome: The two strength-oriented player characters, Ivan and Boris, respectively sport a shaved head and a balding scalp.
  • Bald Women: The skinhead lady enemies.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Several sequences during the final level, and the final battle itself has the protagonists battling the manifestation of their addiction in a hallucination.
  • Bears Are Bad News: A bear can been seen in the background of the first level being injected with Nekro. It shows up as the level 7 boss.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. There are multiple female enemies in the game and they are just as susceptible to the violent deaths you can dish out to them as male enemies.
  • Big Good: Vlad, a militant communist leading the resistance that the heroes occasionally end up helping out.
    • Arguably subverted, as Vlad himself is content to let others die for his revolution without dirtying his hands himself. He also doesn't seem too bothered about killing a lot of people to achieve change and even adopts dubious tactics like using children as runners. Even the Nekro-enslaved player characters find this behaviour unpleasant.
  • Bilingual Bonus: On the background of level 4's arena, there's an airplane with a banner attached to it saying "ПОБЕДИТЕЛИ НЕ ДОЛБЯТ ПО КНОПКАМ", which roughly translates as "WINNERS DON'T MASH BUTTONS".
  • Body Horror: Nekro does horrible things to the bodies of its users, making the most extreme cases more like zombies than anything.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Killing with a handgun or the AK will always destroy the heads of enemies.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Level 5 takes place in a BDSM nightclub where the bondage acts are played for all the Fan Disservice they're worth.
  • Brawn Hilda: The leader of the female skinheads is a Stout Strength version of this.
  • Breakable Weapons: Each weapon can take a certain amount of hits before it breaks. Some weapons, like the Chair or the bottle, will break and become a Shiv instead. Also, dropping your weapons can damage them, though you can choose to gently put them on the floor.
  • The Cameo: The Fans from Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number can be seen sitting in the background of level 6.
  • Chainsaw Good: In Chapter 4, you get your hands on Chainsaws to fend off some Junkies and Guards.
  • Charged Attack: You can charge up your attack to knock enemies back.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: In Chapter 2, after accidentally inciting a riot. Among the weapons you can get are Toilet Seats and Chairs. Also, if the chair is damaged or used enough, it will become a Shiv.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In level 1, when the player makes their way through the underground laboratory, the corridor background includes a room with a masked bear bound and wired to machines full of Nekro. It reappears much later, as the level 7 boss.
  • Chummy Commies: Vlad, see Big Good.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: You can't drain Nekro from anyone reduced to bloody chunks by either weapons or by pounding their heads into mush.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ivan seems to be the oldest of the player characters, given that he has a greying beard.
  • Creepy Good: The gimp who helps you out in Stage 5 counts as this in-universe, as the main characters find him disturbing.
  • Dark Action Girl: Natasha, the sole female of the group, who is as violent as her companions, if not more, as established by her bio.
  • Dem Bones: The manifestation of Nekro, in its fully grown form, appears as a skeleton with a mohawk, leather jacket, jeans and boots.
  • Dirty Coward: Mikhail basically rolls over as soon as the Bratva approach him with their plan to abduct people from the Roma camp, and after his Face–Heel Turn reveal, he spends the rest of the game pleading with the party to stop their rampage, before finally shooting himself just before the final confrontation.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The reason why the protagonists end up becoming test subjects for Nekro. Hobos in general are useful test subjects for the Bratva.
  • Driven to Suicide: After witnessing how he drove the protagonists he mentored into becoming violent, near-insane addicts of Nekro and realizing the error of his ways, Mikhail promptly shoots himself in the head during an elevator ride with the protagonists.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played with. While Nekro gives notable advantages in-game, like recovering health and making the player stronger and faster, the side effects cause the users to become walking corpses and give horrible hallucinations... if they survive the drug long enough.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: To get the good ending, you have to defeat the manifestation of Nekro without relying on said drug. That means no healing and no berserk mode, although revives are allowed.
  • Enemy Within: The Final Boss is a manifestation of the player characters' addiction to Nekro.
  • Escort Mission: Segments during levels 2 and 5 have the protagonists escorting a character through part of the level. The game shows some mercy during these parts by allowing you to revive them with Nekro should they run out of health. In the latter case, it's also played with, as the escortee in question is perfectly capable of attacking and finishing off enemies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Exploited by Vlad. He knows that, while corrupt, the soldiers would never harm children, so he sends a small boy to give you a message. Even your characters, who aren't exactly nice people, find this gamble in poor taste.
  • Evil Is Visceral: The Nekro hallucinations are a hellscape of blood, gore, and pulsating flesh.
  • Executive Suite Fight: The final level takes place in the Government HQ, in the same fashion as classic beat'em ups.
  • Expy: Nekro is inspired by Krokodil, a notorious real-life street drug that was documented to be widespread in the former Soviet Union during the 2000s and early-2010s and infamous for being highly addictive while also seriously ravaging one's body.
    • Chapter 1's Boss is basically a drug addict charger.
    • Chapter 6's Boss appears to be a Dr. Eggman expy, complete with mechanical contraption.
    • Ivan looks quite a bit like Zangief if he was bald and only had one eye.
    • Natasha's looks and mannerisms are heavily reminiscent of Revy.
  • Eye Scream: Ivan has a scar across one of his eyes.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Mikhail, the protagonists' mentor figure, is revealed to have been the one who sold the Gypsy encampment out to the Bratva.
  • Fed to Pigs: Level 1 eventually leads to a sewer containing plenty of pigs feeding on dead test subjects.
  • Finishing Move: Grabbing an enemy while under the berserk effect of Nekro will have the player character killing said enemy in a particularly gruesome manner.
  • Flunky Boss: Every boss is surrounded by continually respawning mooks, whether they are Nekro addicts, thugs, soldiers/policemen, the Premier bodyguards, or player characters' doppelgangers escorting the Nekro manifestation.
  • Fragile Speedster: Natasha has less range and power than the others, but is faster and has a better jump.
  • Friendly Fireproof: The game offers the option for the players characters (in coop or if playing with an allied bot) to not hurt each other, but the feature must be manually enabled before starting a level. It is always disabled for the enemies, leading them to kill themselves with their own explosives or guns, which is a valid tactic.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: A number of enemies in the prison showers in level 2, although this is slightly masked by the heavy tattoos they sport.
  • Genre Throwback: To Beat Em Ups of the late 1980's and early 1990's, albeit significantly Darker and Edgier.
  • Gratuitous Russian: Notably averted. Le Cartel asked Russian fans on the official VK page of the game to check the text used in the game and suggest valid, commonly-used Russian names.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Glass bottles are usable weapons that can be smashed or tossed at enemies. Once they're shattered, they function as shivs that can one-shot enemies but are one-time use.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Many of the NPCs in this game are very gonky.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sergei and Ivan both have scars on their faces. Unlike Sergei, though, Ivan seems to have lost his eye.
  • Gorn: Blood and brain matter flow by the gallon throughout the course of the game.
    • The first level tops a good chunk of the game, especially the sewers where the floor is downright covered in blood and gore.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Sort of. Whatever the hell the party did to the Premiere during their final hallucination isn't shown, but when they finally come back to reality, the Premier is crucified to his desk with knives while the entire room is painted from ceiling-to-floor with blood and gore.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: You will occasionally encounter friendly NPCs throughout the game, like the friendly prisoner you save from the rapists, the gimp in the club who helps you out by headbutting downed enemies, and the molotov wielding women in the rebellion level.
  • Guns Are Useless: Averted, as guns are easily the most powerful weapons of the game, capable of killing enemies in one or two shots. While pistols are common enough, the AK and the Shotgun are only given in sequences where you're expected to use them to deal with hordes of enemies.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Boris' fatality consists in lifting the enemy above his head with both hands and breaking them in two with a backbreaker.
  • Hand Wraps Of Awesome: All three male playable characters have one.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The level 3 boss is defeated by repeatedly knocking her into the thresher she sends out against you, the riot shield wall in level 6 is taken out by throwing their own grenades back at them, and the first phase of the Nekro fight is defeated by throwing the syringes your dopplegangers spawn in with at the advancing walls of flesh.
  • Husky Russkie: Expected, for a game set in Soviet Union.
    • Visually, Ivan is the tallest and the most muscular player character; it fits his gameplay well. Averted with the rest of the roster, since Boris, Sergei and Natasha are smaller and leaner than Ivan.
    • Since bosses are larger, taller, stronger, and tougher than the surrounding mooks, most of them are arguably an example of this.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Natasha rips out her enemy's throat in her fatality, Road House style.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Sergei and Boris have largely balanced stats, though Sergei is more agile while Boris is tougher.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In the final Chapter, before you confront The Soviet Premier, you first have to worry about a room filled to the brim with his bodyguards. Thankfully, he was nice enough to display his favorite swords there. And to top it all off, it is one of the best melee weapons in the game, it can decapitate or slash the throats of all enemies in one slice.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: You can gruesomely beat up knocked-down enemies. Also, some enemies can do this to you as well, though fortunately, you can kick them away.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Certain mooks can guard against punches, meaning players will either have to grab them or break the block with kicks.
    • Riot shield mooks are immune to all attacks from the front, requiring a player to blockstun them before dashing behind and comboing them (or in one instance, just throwing back the grenades they throw at you).
  • Large and in Charge: Almost all of the Bosses are bigger than you and, as stated above, are backed up by their respective Mooks.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The common result of smashing a downed opponent's head. Also see White Russian in Addiction-Powered above.
  • The Mafiya: The primary foes of the game, referred to as the Bratva.
  • Meaningful Name: "Nekro" means "corpse" in Greek.
  • Mighty Glacier: As the biggest of the crew, Ivan hits harder and has longer range but is slower.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: THE VIDEOGAME. Any available character of the roster can reduce anyone's head into a messy pulp, with their bare hands!
  • Multiple Endings: There are two endings, which are determined by whether or not you defeat the final boss without using Nekro.
    • Bad Ending: The heroes kill the Premier, but ultimately succumb to the drug and die. Vlad swears to continue fighting against the drugs and corruption in memory of their efforts.
    • Good Ending: The heroes kill the Premier and manage to overcome the drug. When they get out of the hospital, they get a statue built of them and learn that not only have the surviving people responsible been arrested and the government security forces have joined Vlad, but that Nekro has been taken out of the streets.
  • Nintendo Hard: Make no mistake, this game does not mess around. As early as the second level, enemies can easily combo you to death and can easily overwhelm you with sheer numbers. And then there's the bosses, who are all extremely durable and hit extremely hard. And don't even get us started on the Final Boss...
  • Non-Action Big Bad: The corrupt Premier. When confronted by the protagonists, he just hides and calls for evac while sending in hordes of goons.
  • No Name Given: The penultimate boss is the Soviet Premier. He is never named in-game, but according to his appearance, he is probably supposed to be Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: The protagonists join Vlad's revolution only to get their revenge.
  • One-Hit Kill: Knives, syringes and guns can usually dispatch of mooks in one hit (though the former two are balanced out by being single-use only.) Certain weapons, like the katana and the shotgun, can even kill multiple foes in one hit. Grabbing an enemy while in a berserk state also triggers a unique fatality.
  • One-Man Army: It is possible to beat the game completely solo. Even with three allies, the protagonists face down and beat to death police men, army forces, special forces commandos, attack dogs, and homeless junkies, with ten-to-one odds at any given time.
  • Off with His Head!: Sergei's fatality has him uppercutting the enemy's head off. You can use the severed head as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Parking Garage: Level 7 starts with the party being ambushed by thugs in a parking garage.
  • Personal Space Invader: Rats, who jump on the player and deal continuous damage until they're shaken off (and more than one rat can jump on at a time). Fortunately, they do the exact same thing to other enemies as well. And then there's the syringe spider enemies that spawn in during the 2nd phase of the Final Boss, which make a beeline right for the players, though they can get stomped to death by the boss' hands, and if they lunge at the player and land on these hands, they'll latch onto them instead and die shortly after.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The villains are constantly referring to the protagonists as "Gypsy scum" and variations thereof. The only time "Roma" is used is when the Premier is begging for his life, and even then it's a blatant Last-Second Word Swap by a character who goes right back to insulting when he thinks he has the upper hand again.
  • Prison Rape: Your Barrier-Busting Blow at the start of level 2 takes you to a prison shower room, and interrupts a group of inmates about to gang-rape another inmate.
  • Prison Riot: You accidentally incite one. While escorting an inmate that says he knows of a way to escape, after escorting the inmate to the gate, he accidentally starts an alarm and frees all the inmates. Needless to say, you have to punch a lot of people in your way to freedom.
  • Psycho Serum: Nekro is capable of giving you a needed boost in a fight, but induces violent vomiting, horrible hallucinations, and will eventually kill you (or make you wish you were dead).
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • The female gang leader in level 3 must be pushed in the shredder to be defeated.
    • To beat the soldier with NV Goggles in the end of level 4, you must throw him flashbangs while he is standing on rails, in order to be run over by incoming trains.
    • In the last level, the Premier must be kicked down from the ladders he tries to climb to escape.
  • Rebel Leader: Vlad.
  • Retirony: In the opening cutscene of level 5 (the nightclub), one of the bouncers guarding the building's entrance tells his co-worker that it's probably his last night of work, as he intends to resign to look after his family. Of course, he's one of the first mooks to die...
  • Retraux: A side-scrolling beat'em up with classic gameplay and pixelated graphics, released in 2016.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Boris is always bare-chested.
    • One of the mook classes is made of shirtless tattooed thugs. They have a totally naked variant, encountered in the prison shower-room.
    • The zombie-like boss of level 1 is bare-chested, too.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns are the most powerful weapons in the game, capable of killing massive groups of enemies at once.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The boss of Level 6 is basically Dr. Eggman, complete with riding an over-elaborate war machine.
    • References to other Devolver games can be found all over. As well as the aforementioned Fans, you can find the Shield-Maiden from Eitr as well as a graffiti of Bunnylord from Not A Hero on the walls.
    • Also seen in the Steam Achievements:
    • One of Nekro's attacks during his third phase is transforming his arm into a giant elongated tentacle of flesh and viscera ala Tetsuo from AKIRA.
  • Shows Damage: Player characters, allies, mooks, and bosses look more and more bloodied the lower their health is. It also reflects on the player characters' portraits.
  • Sinister Shiv: One of the available weapons, they can one-shot most enemies but are also one use only.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Natasha is the only playable female out of four characters.
  • SNK Boss: Nekro, especially if you're going for the good ending.
  • Spiritual Successor: Two Best Friends Play describe the game as one to the games of Bloodlust Software (even specifically bringing up Timeslaughter.
    • With it's level of violence, Eastern-European setting and the (intentionally) crude graphics, this game can be also considered such to Franko: The Crazy Revenge
  • Stock Foreign Name: Russian names. The player characters are named Ivan, Boris, Sergei, and Natasha. Major NPCs include people named Vlad and Mikhail. There's also a bouncer named Igor.
  • Stress Vomit: The player characters vomit whenever a Nekro hallucination happens.
  • Tattooed Crook: Some of the mooks, fitting the "Russian mobster" stereotype. Natasha and Boris also have a bunch of tattoos on their arms.
  • Taunt Button: Each character has a taunt they can perform. It has little purpose other than to look badass. Sergei spits on his enemies' face and does a Bring It gesture. Natasha pulls out a beer can, chugs it and then throws it at the enemies' face. Ivan pulls out his gold tooth and throws it at his foes. And Boris... well, see Toilet Humour below.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Some of the mooks are Nekro addicts with a distorted face and clumsy animations, giving them a zombie-like look. The first level boss is an even uglier variant of them.
  • Theme Naming: Noticed how the Nekro strains listed under Addiction-Powered were named after cocktails that contain vodka?
  • Toilet Humour: Boris' taunt is him pooping in his hand, then throwing his feces.
  • Traintop Battle: Level 4 is set inside a moving train, with a sequence on top of it; at this point, the objective isn't to take control of the locomotive but to repel enemy reinforcements. The arena unlocked at level 4 completion is the traintop fight.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The sniper enemies who first appear in the train level don't drop their rifle when they are hit.
  • The War Sequence: Sequences near the end of levels 6 and 8 throw dozens of enemies at you while giving you the most powerful weapons in the game.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Finishing off a fallen enemy with a charged punch will turn his head into goo. Also, Ivan's fatality consists in crushing his enemy's head between his hands, with this result.


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