Calling Boomerang X a first-person shooter just doesn’t seem to do the game justice. It’s more like Devil Daggers meets Portal meets Doom. A high-octane, adrenaline rush that keeps you holding your breath and on the edge of your seat. Constant waves of newer and newer enemies regularly push the player to the limit of their abilities. But with only twelve arenas, and almost a complete lack of story, is Boomerang X enough to keep players coming back for more?
Story? What Story?
You play as some stranger that gets shipwrecked and washes up on the beach of an island. You then find “the boomerang,” a shuriken-like weapon that, well acts like a boomerang. The inhabitants of this island were mining some weird crystals and have all been wiped out by these shadowy monsters that were awakened due to the mining. Now, these shadow creatures are trying to kill you.
That’s it. That is the story of Boomerang X in its entirety. We never learn who this shipwrecked stranger is, why were they traveling to the island in the first place, or if they’re even human. But here’s the kicker. None of that even matters. The gameplay loop of Boomerang X is so satisfying, that having anything more than a skeletal story would have just bogged the game down.
And the gameplay loop is just as simple as the story. From the moment you pick up the Boomerang, you get introduced to new ability and are given the chance to practice it. After that, you enter an arena where the shadow monsters attack. Once you have killed several waves of specific monsters marked with a yellow icon, you are released from the arena, get introduced to a new mechanic, then locked into a new arena with new enemies, all of which have new ways to kill you.
Boomerang X is So, So Fast
While that sounds very simple on paper, experiencing this gameplay loop is anything but. Boomerang X has twelve arenas in total. As you progress through, you will unlock six new abilities. To give you some examples, Slingshot allows you to teleport to the location of the Boomerang at any time.
Flux allows you to slow time while charging the Boomerang. The Flux timer also resets the instant you throw the Boomerang, giving you infinite bullet time if done properly. Scattershot is like a single shotgun blast that you get after killing 2 enemies in a single throw of the Boomerang. Then there’s Needle, Blaze, and Oblivion Comet, but I don’t want to spoil those for you. Let’s just say they are all core to your survival.
The game takes it easy on you for the first half of the game, almost as if you were on training wheels. There aren’t that many enemies, and you can take things easy as you learn the game’s core mechanics. And then it hits. And when I say hits, I mean it’s like a kick in the teeth.
Boomerang X gets to the point where you literally cannot stay still for more than three seconds without getting hit. This is insane because it takes two seconds to regain a health unit from one of the limited health regen spots.
For full transparency, Boomerang X is the first game that ever made me go to one of my kids for help beating it. Granted, the game has settings like auto-lock, and aim assists for old people such as myself. Surprisingly, activating these settings does not take away from the experience in the slightest.
Ready For Your Eyes to Bleed?
Speaking of surprises, the decision to go cel-shading in Boomerang X seemingly made the game easier to play. When things got hectic the environmental details seemed to fade away, simultaneously the enemy details became crystal clear.
The review copy provided was for PC, and I have no idea how this game will run on the Switch. There were times where the screen was absolutely covered in enemies. Even with the action flying a mile a minute, with dozens of enemies on screen, at no time did the game freeze, crash, or even stutter.
Boomerang X Review Verdict
Compared to other games, Boomerang X is extremely short. But so are rollercoasters. What makes the short length of this game even better is that it comes with an extremely challenging New Game+. Remember how I said there was a slow ramp-up in difficulty? NG+ tosses that aside and goes from 0 – 100 right out the gate. For example, enemies that get introduced in the sixth arena the first time around make an appearance in the first arena in NG+. Boomerang X also features a Speedrun timer built into the settings so there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back. If you’re a fan of arena shooters or the bullet hell genre, then Boomerang X is a game you do not want to miss.
[Editor’s Note: Boomerang X was reviewed on PC via Steam. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]