Boomerang X Review – If You Love Something, Throw it at Monsters
Developed by DANG!
Published by Devolver Digital
Available on PC, Nintendo Switch
Movement is one of the most important parts of gameplay, right before sound. If the character doesn’t move well, it ruins the feel of the whole game. Boomerang X seeks to handle movement as it’s first job. In Boomerang X, you play as a stranger in a strange land. You’ve fallen through a doorway into a completely different world. You are ostensibly human. It’s a first person perspective, but you can see that the player character has 4 fingers and a thumb on each hand. You’re bandaged all the way up the arms. This world you’ve fallen into is one full of insect people; mainly ants. These ants are a proud warrior brood. Something has gone wrong though. The ant folks you encounter are usually corpses, rotting in the sun.
As you move through the world of Boomerang X you’ll pick up a four-sided, bladed boomerang. It will be you constant companion. As you get a better hang of how the game controls, you’ll be upgrading the powers that the ‘rang holds. Starting out, you can throw it, and it’ll come back to you. It’s fairly standard boomerang behavior. The wait gets annoying. The ‘rang will sometimes hit scenery and take its sweet time coming back to you while you’re in the middle of a tense fight. This feeling doesn’t last long. An early upgrade gives you the ability to recall your ‘rang with the click of a button.
What are you throwing it at? Is probably a question you’re asking. Boomerang X is split up into arenas. When you enter an arena and smash the giant crystal that floats above it, you’ll start the first wave of enemies. It’s wave-based arena combat. Out of the frankly massive amount of enemies that will be thrown at you, a few will be marked with a yellow indicator. These yellow enemies need to be taken out to progress to the next wave. It seems simple. The enemies are various bits of wildlife, corrupted by a shadowy presence. Spiders bathed in shadows will do their best to get at you and eat you. They’re faster than you. I know I talked about movement, and how great it is…so how are enemies faster than the player?
You shouldn’t be running. Take to the sky! Boomerang X rewards verticality. I can’t count the number of arenas I’ve walked into thinking, Oh, this one drops off into an insta-kill pit. Better be careful, only to discover that I’m meant to use the whole arena. Fall down the pit, doesn’t matter. There ground is down there. You gotta kill spiders down there. How do you get back up? You’re covered. In the first couple of hours of Boomerang X you’ll upgrade to the point that you can throw your ‘rang, and follow it’s trajectory with the tap of a button. Throw it as high as you want, and fly after it. The momentum will carry you through. With increased movement options comes harder enemies. You’ll still see the spiders, but they’re far down the list of things that want to kill you.
Hulking masses of liquid shadow will spawn giant tentacled shadow monster that fly through the air, chasing you. These spawners aren’t like the rank-and-file enemies. They can’t be destroyed by hitting them with the ‘rang. They’ll have a large crystal on their back that has to be hit dead-on to finish them off. Maneuvering around them to get off that sweet shot is a lot of the fun of Boomerang X. Enemies start to have tricks to getting rid of them. A giant shadow frog has a crystal on it’s back and on it’s stomach, meaning you have to wait for it to jump to finish it off. You’ll gain a slow motion power that allows you slow down time temporarily while you line up shots. It’s awesome. I’ve never felt cooler than when I lined up a slow motion shot underneath one of the giant shadow frogs. As the ‘rang smashed it into a puff of smoke, I hit the button to follow my boomerang up through it’s destroyed husk. As I was flying in slow motion, I lined up and took out 4 flying monsters.
Boomerang X is in the business of creating “wow I can’t believe I did that” moments. It provides a gameplay loop that rewards your sick trick shots. The movement is so smooth, fast and frenetic. The only rules for how to get around in the world are: Gotta. Go. Fast. There is a story there though. There is even an NPC to talk to. it’s a centipede who also fell into the world of ants. Its presence is pretty much there to provide some levity in-between especially difficult fights. I found myself chuckling at its observations about the strange world around it. A giant talking centipede calling anything strange is just aces.
If you grab a copy of Boomerang X, I feel you won’t be disappointed. It’s an absolute blast, and I can see speedrunners tearing it to pieces trying to get that perfect run. I know I’m still thinking about what upgrades I might find next. I gotta go, the arenas are calling.