After hitting PCs earlier this year, Curve Digital and Runner Duck’s Bomber Crew has now made its way over to consoles. It’s a title I’ve been keeping a close eye on for a while, with the strategic action and unique premise seemingly perfect for quick air-battles on the go on my Nintendo Switch. I actually got to play it at EGX Rezzed earlier this year and loved it too, so the anticipation had hit quite a high.
Well, now I’ve played the game properly I can confirm that it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Sure, it can be frustratingly brutal too, but the fun definitely outweighs the frustrations.
At first glance it’d be easy to think that Bomber Crew a flightsim, but it’s so much more than that – it’s more of a bombing-plane-management sim that includes plenty of action in between. You’ve got to maintain every aspect of the plane, whether it’s telling someone to fly it, maintaining it, or making someone shoot down an enemy. It’s not about aiming a gun and shooting stuff from the skies, but rather about being smart with your crew, utilising their skills to your advantage, prioritising the right tasks on the plane, and then staying on top of your foes whilst following your mission. It can be hectic, but also a whole lot of fun.
You’ll come across a few different mission types that range from blowing up buildings, taking out pilots, or simply scouting ahead for enemies, so there’ll always be something different to do. There are also plenty of side missions to go along with the story-progressing ones, so there’s a fairly meaty experience here for players. Sure, some missions could feel a little repetitive at times, but the intensity of each one and the fact that one mistake could see them go completely wrong meant that they’d never actually get boring.
Whilst all of the action involves your plane, the meat and bones of Bomber Crew comes with looking after your team. You’ll level them up, get new equipment, and constantly improve your plane (which in turn needs a better crew), with the more time and effort you invest in them being rewarded with an easier time for the player. That being said, I did feel a bit of pressure to grind out some levelling up on easier missions at times – Bomber Crew can be an incredibly tricky game, so having an inexperienced or badly equipped team can be fatal. Luckily, it’s not a bore replaying missions, but it could dampen the actual feeling of progression in-game.
Still, since the missions demand such strategically-quick thinking from the player, you know you always have to switched on. Hitting a mission and being put in a situation where you need to quickly assign jobs to your crew whilst enemies attack can be hectic, but in a really satisfying way. You’re not the one just piloting the ship after all, but rather the one that directs the crew and makes sure everything goes smoothly. It makes for a unique experience where every mission is exhilarating and every success is satisfying.
You must be warned though – Bomber Crew doesn’t have any checkpoints or saving mid-mission, so the repercussions of any mistakes will be severe. This could actually be pretty frustrating at times, especially when you’re learning the ins-and-outs of the game, but at least the missions aren’t so long that you’ll be left angry at a constant stream of failures. This can be a double edged sword though, because the consequences of failure along with the intensity of missions makes everything feel all the more important, which in turn makes each success much sweeter. It might be hard, but when you win? It feels great.
Just keep in mind that any crew that die on a mission are gone for good. There’s no miraculous cure for death in Bomber Crew, so if one of your prized mechanics or gunners meets their end, you’ll need to head to the recruitment centre to get a new one. It’ll certainly make you assess every decision you make carefully and, of course, makes you feel the pain of each failure more severely.
Given Bomber Crew’s strategic set up, there’s no denying that it’s a title that’s better suited for mouse and keyboard controls. However, the team at Runner Duck have done a decent job setting it up for the Nintendo Switch too. You’ll assign your crew different tasks and mark jobs for them with ease, with a quick press of the left shoulder button easily cycling you through everything that’s on offer. Everything is clearly marked too, whilst using the D-pad will quickly let you switch between targets. You can also slow down time with the right shoulder button, which gives you a chance to really look through everything. It all functions well, whilst the intuitive camera controls ensure you can take a closer look at every nook and cranny of your plane and what’s going on around it.
Still, there’s no denying that the controls take some getting used to and during some of the busier missions it’s easy to find yourself in a mess. During the first hour or so with the game, I made a bunch of mistakes which were simply down to the fact that I forgot how a function works or because I couldn’t control my crew properly. Of course, this could be blamed on my incompetency, but a lot of it came down to the fact that the controls take some time to suss out.
On the presentation side of things, Bomber Crew is a pretty little game that has a surprisingly cute aesthetic. Your crew almost look adorable at times with their blocky style, and it’s hard to imagine they’re part of this little squad of heroic pilots. It’s a nice visual style though that I enjoyed seeing a lot of in-game, whilst the UI and menus were clean and easy to navigate too.
Developer: Runner Duck
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC