World War 2 is no stranger to video games. From Battlefield to Call of Duty to Brothers In Arms, first-person shooters come to mind when thinking about the historical conflict. Bomber Crew from studio Runner Duck takes the war to the skies. The game is a deceptively cute flight simulator that left me angry, yet never wanting to stop playing. Simply put, Bomber Crew is a fantastic experience that will reward players for their patience, skill, and quick thinking.
Players will go through the same types of missions over and over. Some missions will require you to drop supplies to people in distress. Others will task your squad with blowing up enemy structures. There are also optional objectives like shooting down enemy Ace pilots, photographing buildings, and doing recon tasks. Despite the repetitive structure, some missions have different lengths, difficulties, and rewards that encourage replay-ability. Completing a mission will net players with new abilities and the chance to level up your crew.
A Crew of Many Talents
Speaking of the crew, your squadron of seven people will consist of soldiers that specialize in different areas. You have a bomber who can open the doors and launch explosives from the plane. There’s the driver who can learn new flying techniques such as the corkscrew, which helps escape enemy fire. You can also have the engineer that repairs parts of the plane that malfunction. Lastly, you can have a person who helps display the map for your crew. The seven people on your plane all play an integral part of every mission.
The driver needs to start the plane, lower/raise the landing gear, fly around the map, evade enemy fire, and land the vehicle. Movement is simple. You highlight a marker in the environment and tag it. Doing so will move the aircraft in that direction. This action helps to travel to points of interest and different objectives. There are three guns on your ship. Highlighting enemy planes will allow your gunners to shoot down the opposition. Eventually, ammunition runs out, and you must replenish. To do so, you must highlight the individual crew member, send them to the ammo crate, and watch them reload the turrets. Leveling up gunners allows them to unlock focus, an ability that makes them more precise with shooting.
Engineers are essential to survival. If the hydraulics malfunction, the engineer needs to fix it. When there are electrical failures, they are required to assist the crew. When there are issues with these parts of the plane, things like lowering the landing gear might not work. Every single piece of the vehicle affects something else. Players need to be aware of every single thing that happens inside and outside of the plane.
Bomber Crew is unforgiving and relentless. The difficulty is so jarring at times that I often needed to put down my Switch every so often. While the game is about war, survival is the gist of Bomber Crew. My squadron of seven soldiers became important to me. Each random character had a name. Rudder Duck wanted players to become attached to the people you recruit. I enjoyed completing missions and leveling them up but feared for their lives when the plane took a lot of damage. Seeing flames engulf the vessel made me anxious, and I did everything in my power to handle the situation. Most of the time, I found success, but during the moments I failed, sadness surrounded me.
When the plane crashes, your squadron ends up in the water. Sometimes you’ll survive (you can increase your survival chances through upgrades), but other times, death comes knocking. If a crew member dies, they’re gone forever. After spending hours leveling up and becoming attached to crew members, losing them hit me harder than expected. Recruiting new characters to replace deceased members is unfortunate because you have to level them up again. Having weaker crew members makes missions more difficult, so I found myself grinding easier missions to level them up quicker. Failing missions is also unfortunate because there aren’t any checkpoints. This means that failure requires starting over from the beginning. On challenging levels, defeat can be excruciating. With missions taking upwards of 20 minutes, having to do everything over is particularly frustrating.
War Never Stops
Missions take place in real time. Every time you do an action, the game continues. Planning your moves is often difficult because missions are unpredictable. Enemies come from all directions. You never know when your plane is going to be attacked. There are times when you need to do a corkscrew to evade enemy fire, while at the same time, your guns have no more ammo. This means that you’ll have to decide what’s more important; moving the plane or replenishing your turrets. Even worse, your plane can catch fire as well. Just picture all these problems happening simultaneously. Players must make difficult decisions.
Learning the mechanics takes a while to get a hold of, but once you know how to play, Bomber Crew becomes manageable. It’s just overwhelming when you have seven crew members to watch over, move around, and utilize during missions. There is so much strategy involved that if you don’t have a game plan, failure is imminent.
While understanding the mechanics of Bomber Crew is certainly ideal, earning money from completing objectives is what I personally think is the most important aspect of the game. Upgrading your plane with better guns, hydraulics, and engines among other things will increase your chance of survival. Winning is an uphill battle, but continuous playtime will result in more success because of leveled up crew members and stronger vessels.
Conclusion: A New Type of War
Bomber Crew is a game that surprised me. Without knowing anything about it beforehand, I expected an action experience but instead, was met with a deep, relentless strategy game with a lot of depth. Rudder Duck created an exemplary Nindie that will provide players with hours of gameplay that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Is Bomber Crew a game for everyone? Absolutely not. It’s hard, requires a lot of patience, and asks players to learn a lot of mechanics. Honestly, the game is overwhelmingly difficult at times, but that’s part the charm. Every minute with Bomber Crew felt like a rewarding experience. Fans of strategy, simulation, and World War 2 games will find a lot to love. It’s a game that asks a lot from its players, but trust me, the payoff is worth the price of admission.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89