When I’m contorting my face, moving my mouse and body in ways that don’t look natural, then you know I’m playing Boomerang X. By undoing years of practice to not move while gaming, developer DANG! has something special here by getting me in motion like it’s a gaming commercial. This’ll be a game that attracts people by the visuals alone, speedrunning opportunities, or simply those who want to play something different. Boomerang X is all of these things, and more – it’s stylish, accessible, and wholly engrossing as you slip into a Zen-like state taking out creatures with extreme efficiency, without ever touching the ground.
There’s little setup to the story of Boomerang X, but a short cutscene shows you’ve been shipwrecked. This is of course shrouded in mystery to the how and why. After awakening a short time later, you get your hands on the titular boomerang, that looks to be in the shape of an X, sitting right in the middle of Dark Sector‘s and Krull’s glaive with its four blades. From there, the game tutorializes you by getting acquainted with its movements and doled out mechanics.
One of the first things you’ll do is jump, and you’ll realize you go fast and far with a single one. Chain these together, and this becomes your main mode of transportation. That is, until you gain the ability to teleport to your boomerang after you throw it. You can of course throw the boomerang, and recall it, or let it return to you on its own. Progression comes at specific points after finishing a level, where you’ll sometimes get an additional shield to take hits, and/or a new power. These powers range from giving you a shotgun called the scattershot after taking out multiple enemies at once, the needle like a sniper shot without having to find a weak spot, blaze for an area of effect blast when landing on a surface, or the oblivion comet, which lets you teleport kill nearly everything in sight after filling a meter. Each power becomes essential for the level that follows it, and learning how and when to use these are the keys to your eventual success.
Boomerang X is not exactly easy, but it wasn’t until the ninth level (out of thirteen) where I felt my skills get tested, and actually died. Each level is completely different from the last, not only from a gameplay point of view, but also visually. While there aren’t any bosses until the final level, there are what I consider puzzle enemies. They come in many forms, but there will be ones with a weak point in the form of a red jewel, singular or plural, and only exposes its weakness in intervals. How you discover their weaknesses is the game’s strength.
Playing through a level is a wave-based affair. You’ll have to defeat anywhere from five to seven waves, in an arena that’s almost more vertical than it is horizontal. As you’re fighting, you’ll be throwing yourself high in the air for top-down attacks, getting out of the way of an impending attack, and even slowing down time to allow you to assess priorities. The game is good about marking necessary targets to complete the wave, as well as notifying you of any immediate danger coming your way. Should you take damage, you can heal on the few health platforms scattered around the room, but this too is a strategic decision to make as they are one-time use. I do wish the developers had added a “quick restart” feature, because there were times were I took unnecessary damage, but had to go back to the main menu to try again – hopefully this is something that could come in a future update.
It only took two hours to reach the credits the first time, but I immediately wanted more. Thankfully, there is New Game+, something I usually never bother with, but was compelled to here. New Game + makes the levels longer and populated with more difficult enemies. The only thing that carries over is the oblivion comet power. I was rather surprised the health upgrades didn’t as well, but I can see why. New Game + rests in its own save file, separate from everything else. Where I found over than half of the base game a little too easy, New Game + is more what I wanted out of the difficulty, and it absolutely delivers.
For those interested, there’s a speedrun clock you can turn on in the options if you want to go for world records or attaining achievements associated with completing a level under a certain time. You can activate additional gameplay features, like invincibility or no shields, no gravity, or even scattershot only mode. These options can disable achievements, but are a great way to play. There are also a healthy amount of accessibility options from turning off screen shake to setting colors to what works for you, and even increasing contrast and visibility of enemies. This is a game made to be played by anyone and everyone.
Boomerang X is wonderfully executed and offers a great ramp up with each successive level, it’s a shame then that it’s over all too soon. New Game + acts like a totally optional but rewarding victory lap, adding another layer of difficulty which helps satisfy the desire to play more of it. The combat offers a very specific toolset to dispatch your foes with, and the movement demands you to always be on the move, in the air or on the ground in order avoid early deaths. This is a game about split-second decisions involving tactics just as much as skill. Boomerang X is a ballet of bustle as you slay the ancient beasts, sending them into oblivion.
A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes