05 May, 2018

Bomber Crew Review

Bomber Crew is a cute, arcade-y game about trying to manage a bomber and its crew as they complete missions. It looks nice, and has a few nice ideas, but at first I just couldn't figure out why I disliked it. So I kept playing, and playing some more until it became obvious- The difficulty feels forced in almost every way and the enjoyable parts of the game do not actually do that much.

You get to manage your crew and give them their own gear with a lot of different options, and manage your bomber's components using a moderately expansive system to customize several modules, individual engines, and hull sections. The damage model is quite good, with multiple subsystems that can be damaged as well as your armoured sections taking more hits before the holes begin to show. It has a promising implication of being able to bail out, survival chances after a crash and makes it seem like every choice you can make will matter at some point, and the feeling that you can really plan and customize your bomber.

But that is where the good ends, as you end up flying as a single bomber against large amounts of germans, completing missions on your own while the only real challenge is whether or not you can fight the interface well enough to make your crew actually do their jobs. Casualties and crashing your bomber hurts the first time, but you'll quickly learn it's not really your fault if things go poorly. The interface is designed to actively slow you down while the game seems to be made in such a way that it will make you do everything at once, with difficulty mostly coming from the simple fact that you're not given enough time to do everything you need to do thanks to an arbitrary 2-6 second wait every time you want your crew to do anything.
They will happily sit there and watch the bullets come in as the bomber gets shot, refusing to shoot back until you personally point at the fighters one at a time for about 2 seconds each. They will sit on an empty gun until you personally tell them to reload, they'll do nothing as far as navigation goes and they won't wipe their butt after using the toilet unless you tell them to do so. Along with this, I realized that if the crew actually did their job, the interface actually allowed me to do things at a reasonable speed or there were friendly aircraft in the sky with you, there would just be no difficulty.
The fact that every single option of note is locked until you've played for hours is just an extra, and you will have to re-do the same set of 2-3 missions again and again until you unlock necessary upgrades is just a small thing compared to the bigger problems.
There is no story either, and the campaign is just a string of random missions with an occasional bigger mission in it.

And so my conclusion,
Bomber Crew is a nice idea and looks nice. It has a few good ideas on managing the bomber, crew loadouts, and dealing with incoming damage. But in the end none of your own skill in managing things or reflexes matters. It is designed to overload you with things to do while actively fighting your ability to do any of them. This essentially just leads to frustration as you are not playing the game, you're fighting the interface and poor design choices.

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