I got really excited for Bomber Crew when I first saw it, so it’s a bummer that the game—which looked like FTL vs Dambusters—annoyed the hell out of me.

Everything looked so good on paper. The game puts you in control of a bomber on various missions over Europe, with a focus on actually managing the crew, moving them around different stations, making repairs, treated wounded comrades, etc.

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Throw in the emotional attachment/manipulation of a crew that could be both levelled up and killed, along with custom paintjobs for your bomber, and it all seemed very much like My Kind of Video Game.

Sadly, Bomber Crew is just a massive pain in the ass to play. There’s the bones of a functional and enjoyable game here, but BC’s emphasis on real-time decision making coupled with a terrible interface makes the meat of the experience—juggling what to do when the shit hits the fan—broken and overly stressful.

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Bomber Crew simply gives you too much to do in times of crisis, and lacks the interface or design to make your actions much fun. Part of that is down to a clumsy UI, but it’s also because the game is constantly asking you to complete mindless chores just to stay alive; for example your navigator can’t just fly, you have to manually hold the camera over a waypoint to move through missions, and your gunners won’t engage a target if you haven’t manually locked onto it, even if it’s flying right in front of their faces.

You can spend a lot of time painting your bomber.

That kind of busywork constantly distracts from the act of managing your crew, which is the fun stuff and is what I signed up for. I wouldn’t mind if the game had found a way to make those actions feel more meaningful, but every time a crewmember dies or I miss a turn because I had to slowly and painstakingly point out to my gunner a fighter that was a few metres away, it feels incredibly frustrating.

This is all a shame, because I love so much else about it! I dig the concept, I like the art style, I spent a ton of time painting and customising my bomber and I adore the Animal Crossing-style gibberish every character barks over the radio.

But as soon as you get in the air, no thanks. Maybe I need to be hanging out for a ground crew/bomber painting simulator instead...