Boomerang X is yet another quintessential title published by Devolver Digital. A game that focuses on a single satisfying gameplay loop and then stylizes it as much as possible. In this case, if you want to sling around a boomerang blade while feeling like you're in a Hong Kong wire-fu action movie, you'll get exactly that here...but not much else.
Mastering The Blade
Boomerang X's level design is simple but reliable. Ostensibly, you're trapped on a mysterious island filled with mystery and monsters, but progression wise you're going from one battle arena to the next. Each arena fills up with waves of shadow monsters, several of which are marked in yellow. Find and take out each marked monster until all waves are defeated. To help with this your signature weapon, a throwing star that comes back to you like a boomerang.
As I mentioned in my preview of this game back in Early Access, these arena fights are where the developers put their focus and it shows. Throwing the boomerang blade around and watching it ricochet through enemies like a pinball of death is quite satisfying. Better still, the physics of the blade returns back to you reliably after a few points of contact, rather than just become a completely chaotic physics object.
It's when additional powers and abilities are introduced that Boomerang X becomes something special. In addition to throwing and recalling the blade at will, you can also pull yourself to where the blade is at any given time, letting you zip around the arena in physics-defying glee. There is also a bullet-time slow-motion power so you can line up your next throw carefully and help gain your bearings, a burst of shurikens you can unleash to destroy a group of enemies close by, long-range darts if you need to take out something far away, and even an area-clearing ground pound.
Thankfully enemy encounters will help you get familiar with all of these tools quickly. Swarms of flies, hordes of sharks, giant birds of prey and frogs with difficult weak spots, and death-laser spewing eyeballs are among just a small handful of enemies. Their overall look isn't exactly inspiring – generic black balls of gloop with glowing red weak spots – but they do contrast well with the bright watercolor aesthetic of the arenas, which is good for navigation and spatial clarity.
As for Boomerang X's difficulty curve, it became a love it or hate it affair as I kept going. While enemy configurations continued to get more elaborate and numerous in a slowly escalating wave of controlled chaos, the environments started giving me fewer places to catch my breath. Some of the arenas have most of their floor replaced with spikes or lava, forcing you to stay moving and in the air while facing enemy attacks. This is especially felt near the end when an entire arena took me almost thirty full minutes to finish just from how much needed to be kept in mind. It leads to an almost Platinum Games level of game design where success is so sweet, but failures overwhelm and exhaust.
Short, But Sweet
While Boomerang X doesn't have any traditional difficulty levels, it does have some great optional features. Invincibility modes, unlimited slow-mo, and zero gravity mode are but a few options available. There are also colorblind modes and the ability to remap controls. If you're having trouble with certain sections, these options are available, although they do disable achievements. Alternatively, there is also a "perfect run" mode where you die in one hit.
This is a good thing since the core game itself is quite lean. I managed to get to the credits within four hours, taking into account several restarts at certain parts. Aside from a New Game Plus and a Chapter Select mode where you can replay any arena with everything you've unlocked, there's not a lot of incentive to revisit Boomerang X outside of its polished and satisfying action-platforming. It's a shame since a game of this type would be perfect with an arcade-style high score mode.
This does make the whole experience feel less substantial once you complete it. The game opening with mystery and intrigue with what happened on the island. The environmental storytelling depicting an imaginative fantasy world. Even the revelations and turns that happen in the game's final moments beg speculation on what happens next. It's a game that does a lot with so little, but you wish that there was so much more.
Boomerang X | Final Thoughts
Boomerang X is a satisfying and deeply rewarding high-speed action platformer. A singular concept refined to an insane degree with just enough set dressing and imagination centered around it grab your attention and keep it until the credits. Just be ready to take some breaks near the end, if only so you don't break your controller.
TechRaptor reviewed Boomerang X on PC with a review code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch.
- Polished, Exciting Action Platforming
- Minimal, Colorful Art Direction
- Solid Accessibility Options
- Limited Replay Value
- Generic Enemy Designs