Connect with us

Game Reviews

Boomerang X Simply Whips

Few video games are as focused and fun as Boomerang X, an incredible first-person action experience out now on Switch and Steam.

Published

on

Boomerang X Review

Developer: DANG! | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Genre: First-Person Action | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC | Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch


Every now and then there is the rare video game that knows exactly what it wants to do and sticks the landing. Boomerang X, developed by DANG! and published by Devolver Digital, is one such game. With a fast-paced first-person action experience that has some incredible potential for the speedrunning community, Boomerang X is laser-focused on a few key mechanics. This focus pays off in pulse-pounding action and slick movement, with just enough story to pique a player’s curiosity. A short, sweet, and brutal experience, Boomerang X absolutely delivers on its premise.

Boomerang X

Sharp, Quick, and to the Point

Boomerang X begins on a note of intrigue. In the title sequence, an unmarked ship travels to a mysterious island. A storm hits, wrecking the vessel and pitching the traveler onto the shore. Among the wreckage, the bandaged protagonist groggily comes to. But rather than hold on to a nearby spear for self-defense, the player character casts the weapon aside and begins exploring their surroundings. After wandering past some seemingly abandoned structures and weathered stonework, the player finds what will become the only tool they need: a wickedly pointed shuriken-esque boomerang.

Equipped with this deadly weapon, the player receives one or two short tutorials on how to aim, charge, throw, and recall the boomerang. Almost immediately, they are locked in a room and forced to survive waves of enemies. Waves can only be cleared by dispatching a certain amount of specific, marked enemies while avoiding damage. Take too much damage, sometimes as little as one hit, and get sent back to the first wave. What starts off feeling like a tech demo rapidly evolves into a complex ballet of sharp-edged destruction.

The boomerang quickly becomes a movement tool as well as a weapon, with the player unlocking the ability to pull themselves to its thrown location. Charge up the ‘rang, throw it, and as it spins in place for a brief moment, zip to that area and do it all over again. Boomerang X pits players against tough combat challenges almost immediately and once the full suite of abilities is unlocked, the potential of a perfect run becomes seductive. Weaving between enemies, shredding a group of goo-spiders, then slowing down time to snipe a faraway squid feels incredible. The action is frenzied yet calculated, a whirlwind blend of figuring out which enemies to prioritize and which to let scuttle around beneath the aerial antics.

Boomerang X

Ninjas? Insectoids? Why not both?

Boomerang X has frenetic fun and addictive action. This is an achievement for any game, but Boomerang X goes one step further by having interesting lore and a story worth paying attention to. While it occasionally dips into the Soulsborne school of video game storytelling, the world that is sketched out in Boomerang X is genuinely fascinating.

Initially, it seems as though Boomerang X does not want to tell the player a story. But after a few chapters, keen-eyed players might notice some evocative murals that point towards worldbuilding. Little is explicitly laid out, which might be frustrating for lore hunters. But to its credit, Boomerang X doesn’t sell itself as a narrative experience. It is first and foremost an action game, and it succeeds in that regard. But like Hollow Knight before it, there is more to the story in Boomerang X than meets the eye. Both games feature an insect civilization ruined by the greedy plunder of depths below, and both feature cryptic tales told by an eccentric traveling creature. Boomerang X is the first-person ninja version of Hollow Knight, like a spinoff from the perspective of the Mantis Lords. Comparisons to Hollow Knight dry up after that, but it’s for the best. The focus is on combat and much less on exploration.

The Yoran Mantids and their warrior culture may have crumbled to dust, but with enough victories, the player might be able to avenge them. Chapter titles and combat arenas have awesome-sounding names: The Crypt of the Cursed Blood sounds like something right out of Bloodborne. Whether intentional or not, Boomerang X strikes notes of Journey or Sprit of the North with its environmental storytelling.

Boomerang X

Looping Back

There are no real collectibles of any kind in Boomerang X, but there is a steady sense of progression as players earn more combat abilities and hit points as they complete chapters. Becoming a fine-tuned combat machine is the ultimate goal. Beating the game once unlocks New Game Plus, where the player can start from the beginning but with their toolkit fully stocked. Combat encounters are significantly more difficult in New Game Plus, especially since players lose all the shields they’ve accumulated over their first playthrough. But in the world of Boomerang X, powerful mantids are more than agile enough to survive without relying on shields.

What makes combat feel so good is how expansive the arenas are. Some challenge rooms steadily fill with enemies until the player can barely turn around before running into something. Efficiency is key to survival, and learning how to assess threats by careening around a gigantic open space is an experience unlike anything else in games right now. Staying airborne is tough but increasingly important, and by the time the player reaches the appropriately epic final boss, it will feel like second nature.

New Game Plus is difficult, but besting the more dangerous challenges is satisfying in its own right. There is not much to be done beyond that unless the player decides they want to invest in speedrunning. Thankfully, it seems like DANG! and Devolver Digital have anticipated this need by providing players a range of accessibility options once they’ve come to grips with the foundation of Boomerang X. By toggling a ticking timer, slow-motion cooldown, and even the player’s own vulnerability to damage, this title provides plenty of replayability options.

The way Boomerang X delivers on its premise is truly wonderful. Video games let players do amazing things and experience incredible adventures, and basing a game around one mechanic may seem limiting. But sometimes, a person just wants to kick some ass as a powerful insect warrior wielding an otherworldly boomerang. In this way, Boomerang X sings.

Cameron Daxon is a video game evangelist and enthusiastic reader. He lives in Los Angeles, California and once nearly collided with Shigeru Miyamoto during E3. His favorite game is Bloodborne, but only when he’s not revisiting Super Mario World. He’s also in the writer’s room for YouTube personality The Completionist and other places on the internet.

Advertisement
Sordid Cinema Podcast
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trending