Bomber Crew (Switch eShop) Review
The elevator pitch of Bomber Crew sounds pretty good: take control of a plane crew as you go on missions, dealing with enemy fighters, broken equipment and adapted missions, all wrapped in a cutesy, bobble-head aesthetic. However, it doesn’t take long to discover that the cute and enticing wrapping harbours a tough-as-nails simulation game, where every single detail of the mission must be monitored and directed by you.
I found the main hurdle to enjoyment here to be the controls. They’re just so complex that it would take days of regular playing for muscle memory to become comfortable and confident. It’s hard to describe, but the whole thing feels like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube to a tight time limit while wearing pot mitts. Stress is added when enemy fighters start attacking mid-mission, as the threat needs to be dealt with immediately. Because you can move your crew around the plane to perform various jobs (such as grab ammo, shimmy down to the viewing area to snap reconnaissance photos or drop some supplies), you’re often left fumbling around trying to manually tag incoming fighters (yep, your gunner is totally blind to enemy fighters unless you – the gaming god – tag every single one of them), all the while fighting a bucking camera that seems constantly set on “slow and arduous”. Then, naturally, you go off course and miss your objective area because your navigator is a ####ing idiot who needs constant reminding of the heading every thirty seconds, and then you forget to open the bay doors so you need to come around again and – look, the whole thing is just one big ball of deliberately programmed stress.
I get that these game’s appeal to a certain type of gamer, but I really don’t need any more babysitting in my life right now. It would have been cool if your crew slowly learned their roles or something, surprising you with an automatic enemy tag or taking the initiative to heal themselves before they die – you know, like normal people. But no, they’ll happily take damage to their dying breath even though the first aid kit is just a few feet away. It’s for all of these reasons that I failed to connect at all with these vapid code-zombies.
But if this all sounds like your bag, then know that as you complete missions, and as your crew survives them, there are RPG elements where you earn income and can spend it on upgrades for your plane and crew. Individual crew members also gain specific skills related to their profession as they level up, such as the pilot learning a bail-out skill early on. This gives you the added pressure of keeping all your crew alive as they become more experienced and up-skilled. The game is heavily set on making things difficult, though. You just know that a simple mission to deliver supplies is not going to stay simple for long. Enemies will swarm you, things will break down on the plane (requiring your mechanic to laboriously fix the landing gear or bomb bay doors) and your gun’s ammo will run out, requiring (yep) yet another slow crew member to grab some ammo and reload the guns.
The game runs and looks good both docked and handheld, and text is clear and easy to read for the latter. This, combined with the short missions, makes it a perfect portable game, so long as your bus/train/work, colleagues don’t mind the sound of your frustrated swearing!
Don’t let the bright design fool you, Bomber Crew is a full-on challenge, with minutiae galore, from the types of guns and engines you equip to the very gloves and boots that your crew wear (gotta have thermal protection for high altitude bombing). If you enjoy this genre of inevitable-failure games, then, by all means, strap in, but I found the whole thing incredibly stressful, fiddly and just not much fun.
- Lots of depth
- RPG elements increase the more you play
- It’s definitely unique
- Very unfriendly controls
- Everything takes so long to fix or replenish
- Things spiral way out of control very quickly and easily