I remember it well, it was September 2017 when I first gathered my crew and left our airbase to take to the skies in our spiffing new bomber. It was a simple training mission, something to get us used to the bomber, each other and the skies surrounding us. Little would we know how that weekend at EGX would change us, prepare us, ready us, make us the Bomber Crew we are.
It’s felt like an eternity each day, sitting at the airfield, waiting for the call. The crew have been suitably on edge, watching the events of the war unfold before us. We pass the time playing cards, chatting about life outside the RAF, even enjoying the odd nip of whisky of a night smuggled in by our ever chatty Scots bomber, Lithgow. Ever waiting for the call. Well it finally arrived last night, it was now our turn to make a difference, to help turn the tide of this war in our favour.
I hope that opening has painted a picture of just how much character Bomber Crew has. Curve Digital and dev team Runner Duck‘s simulation come resource management game, for all its clean and effective aesthetic, really makes you want to care for the team of pilots, gunners, navigators, engineers and bombers (both personnel and aircraft you enlist during your time playing. The game makes me immediately think of the halcyon days of Sensible Software and Cannon Fodder in particular. It’s amazing what a tiny bit of backstory can provide when it comes to wanting to take care of your crew when they’re on a mission, deep into enemy territory, bomber riddled full of bullet holes in a desperate run to return home.
It’s been just over nine months since the game arrived on Steam, and it’s great to finally see it appear on the consoles. Runner Duck have done a great job here managing the shift from mouse and keyboard to controller without anything feeling overly awkward or difficult to use.
Tasked with the management of your bomber and crew across various mission during the war, Bomber Crew may have you crossing the channel on rescue missions for downed pilots, taking on reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory to photograph key enemy installations, and of course destroying targets that could change the course of the war! All the while you also need to be monitoring your crew’s resources, ammo, health, fuel and damage closely to keep the bomber in tip top shape.
It’s one of these games that takes a little bit of patience to get to grips with the jobs each crew member does, and how to get the best out of them. When you do though, my how it all clicks in to place beautifully. One minute you’re scanning the sky for your navigator to pick out waypoints, the next you’re setting your gunners into action as you mark enemy pilots to be taken out, before switching your attention to the oncoming target to either bomb, supply drop or recon. It can get brilliantly manic when there’s so many things going on to manage. A steady hand, a calm head and a logical mind though will normally see you through the storm and heading home with a good job done.
You’ll want to make sure your crew and bomber make it back safe and sound too. The longer your crew live and the longer your aircraft stays intact the more benefits and buffs you’ll get to support your missions. It’s a great risk / reward mechanic where decisions to go for that secondary mission objective or hang around to take out that enemy ace pilot hang in the balance. Plus, you do find yourself not only investing in these cheeky little bomber crew blighters, but also starting to care for them and the aircraft itself.
That’s another little ace Runner Duck have up their sleeve too. How do you get players invested in their team? Give them a little bit of scope for customisation. You can deck your crew out in lots of different outfits, you can even customise the look and feel of your aircraft too with your own livery. It looks brilliant and is very simple to do, plus the crew and craft then really do feel like your own team and losing them hurts just that little bit more.
You know what I think I’m enjoying most of all though? The surprise that I’m having so much fun with it. I’m normally a 100% FPS big, brash, bold, brainless, point and shoot kinda guy, but this gem has me hooked from the off. Maybe it’s the crew, maybe it’s the bombers, maybe it’s the character, humour, and very Britishness of it all. Either way, it’s a game I’ve very quickly fallen in love with and one everyone should try.
Bomber Crew has character by the bucketload and a gem of a game behind that to boot. Everyone should earn their wings now and take to the skies!
Bomber Crew is available now via Steam and also Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4
Find out more about Bomber Crew here
version reviewed – Xbox One