In case this preview becomes admissible in a court of a law, let me state for the record: I’ve never inflicted blunt force trauma on anyone using an uprooted toilet. But if I did, I imagine it would sound exactly like it does in Mother Russia Bleeds, the latest game published by the keen indie curators at Devolver Digital. This absolutely brutal beat-’em-up for 1-4 players is best understood as Streets of Rage by way of Hotline Miami, where buckets of blood, hyper-violent executions, and drug-induced frenzies are all commonplace. MRB’s presentation, from the gore-stained pixelated visuals to the guttural thumps of the sound effects, left me feeling rattled and overstimulated – but in a (mostly) good way.

You and any of your co-op cohorts play as prisoners in a fictionalized take on the USSR in the 1980s, acting as the guinea pigs for a new drug called Necro that’s backed by the mafia and corrupt authorities alike. On top of choosing a character – selecting from a cast with cliche names like Sergei, Ivan, Natasha, and Boris – you also get to pick out which drug you want to take with you in your trusty syringe (though I only got to try out the neon green variety). From there, this is a straightforward, left-to-right-scrolling brawler where you beat the intestines out of anyone and anything that stands in your way.

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