Filling the shoes of a Russian soldier that also happens to be a bear, players will blast away a Nazi-occupied land in the new shooter Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! This fight to protect the Great Motherland might be a silly one, but the gameplay just can’t back up the ridiculous premise.

Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! Review

Armed with a trusty AK-47, a handle of vodka, and a handy balalaika, players must survive as long as possible against the SS soldiers that storm the land. Never mind coming up with a cunning strategy like circle strafing or blitzing the enemies – all attempts to survive are absolutely futile. Rather, the ultimate goal is to survive as long as possible and not succumb to death from the hail of gunfire all pointed toward your hairy hide.

These types of mindless shooters are a dime a dozen on the Steam store, and Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! does absolutely nothing to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack. Some might feel that the designated vodka and balalaika buttons (mapped to “V” and “B,” respectively) might be funny, but don’t expect to survive for long if you press either one. Rather, anything other than blatant firing will end the game and start everything over from the beginning.

Don’t expect the shooting to work as it should either. The WASD and mouse setup is no doubt familiar to keyboard warriors young and old, but players cannot control where their fire goes. In a cruel twist of fate, aiming at the enemy is out of the question. Some might feel that the infinite ammo for your AK-47 evens the odds, but even this handicap makes anything but running a losing strategy. Don’t expect alternative weapons, melee moves, or even a jump button to help you out – the absolute minimum went into its control scheme.

It’s not like the AI is too smart either. The odds are most certainly stacked against the player in Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! – there’s no doubt about that. Blonde-haired Nazis t-pose their way to your position in this small battlefield, and no amount of fog from poor optimization can hide your position from the enemy. However, friendly fire is on, and the endless bullets emanating from this horde will often take down their own kin.

This poor planning means that players can survive for an extended period of time by simply running from one of the map to the other, waiting for the T-posing soldiers to slowly make their way over. Just be warned that clipping is a problem – the guns might not be in the enemy’s hand, but they will overlap right on the player.

Outside of some achievements with names like “Soviet Kek,” “Mr. Stalin,” and “USSR Ball” that can be earned within minutes of play, players can also get their name up on the leaderboards. Note that the display functionality used to list the names out did not work as it should when we tried to view it – names overlapped one another, and it was hard to make things out. This lack of graphical prowess was sadly commonplace throughout our time with the game.

Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! is proof positive that a single joke cannot carry a game. Between the poor AI, awkward controls, and lack of content, this is one title that is not worth the brief laugh.

This review of Bears, Vodka, Balalaika! was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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