Date: July 8, 2021
Someone over at Devolver must really like first-person platformers. Hot on the heels of whip-swinging temple runner Phantom Abyss comes developer DANG’s Boomerang X, another game in which the player must frenetically fling themselves around the level in order to avoid death. This time we’re using a boomerang, however, and not just any boomerang: this one lets you teleport to its location, allowing you to zoom around the game’s arenas fast enough to make the person watching over your shoulder get motion sickness.
The boomerang also has a few special abilities that you can unlock as you play, mainly in the form of different attacks besides the standard throw. You gain these abilities, as well as learn the basics of how traversal and combat work, over a series of nicely-paced levels. I never felt like I had too many buttons to remember; each new ability or concept was introduced clearly, and the following section of the game essentially forces you to use your new technique in order to succeed.
It’s very satisfying once you learn how to navigate Boomerang X’s levels, and because the difficulty curve is so smooth, you always feel prepared for whatever the game throws at you. There’s decent variety in the foes you’ll face, and they are all animated in such a way that it is immediately clear how they’re trying to kill you.
The graphics in general work well in serving the game’s fast-paced action. In similar titles, I’ve sometimes found myself unable to track what was happening on-screen. In Boomerang X, the enemies are basically all a dark black, and stand out clearly from the more muted (but still nice to look at) colors of the level’s terrain.
Speaking of terrain, there’s a wide variety of different biomes to be seen, and the non-combat, in-between levels do a great job of quietly telling you the story of what went wrong before you got here, if only in vague, broad strokes. You get a little more info from a millipede friend you’ll meet along the way, who is now one of my favorite NPCs of all time, by reason of cuteness.
Boomerang X also has an soundtrack to match its pace; I can only describe it as “video game temple music”, so if you don’t know what the heck I’m trying to say, you’ll just have to listen to it yourself (see trailer below). Regardless, it works hand-in-hand with the speed of the combat to get your heart-rate up as you desperately fling yourself after your boomerang over and over.
It took me just under three hours to finish Boomerang X, although I only had to retry the last couple of levels. While that makes it relatively short, I felt satisfied when I got to the end — it was just the right length for this kind of game. Additionally, there’s a New Game+ option once you’ve beaten the last level, so you can go and spend some more time trying out the end-game abilities that you only had a few opportunities to use.
Retailing at $19.99 on Steam and Nintendo Switch, Boomerang X might be over-priced if you’re someone who plays a game once and then never picks it up again. If you’re someone who likes to do no-hit runs, or otherwise play games over and over, then 20 bucks is probably a steal for a game as solid as this.