When a game is created with a specific niche for its main focus, it needs to be prioritized. The main focus of Boomerang X is right there in the name: the Boomerang. Though it may be a simple weapon, this game lives up to its hype by using a real kickass boomerang to fight in arenas, but that boomerang is admittedly where the game peaks.
Boomerang X drops you on a mysterious island with almost no context other than finding a mystical boomerang. Your character doesn’t speak or have any other distinguishable characteristics other than their bandaged arms that are visible in the first-person view. The island starts as a peaceful, abandoned, and quiet place. As you progress through the first few stages, you find out the island is cursed. The only NPC in the game, a giant centipede, tells you this and acts as a source of history and narrative for this island. The game paints itself in a lonely atmosphere as the player explores the island.
Although the narrative of the game is weak, the true star of this game appears after acquiring the boomerang. It’s the gameplay that shines through, and it’s the gameplay that was clearly the main focus of development. The game lives up to its fast-paced, parkour, bullet-time description. The gameplay starts strong right off the bat. You find a boomerang, you find goo monsters, you fight goo monsters and you head to the next rest point/arena to repeat.
Unlike most first-person shooter/arena games, there aren’t any guns. As I mentioned in my announcement of the game, the boomerang acts as your only weapon. Its mechanics are simple. You throw the boomerang and it comes back. You can recall it to come back faster. You can also slingshot yourself to its position while it’s in the air. I found that the slingshot quickly became the most important move for me. Movement is just as important as attacking here. As I played I constantly had to zip around the arena to attack enemies and flee from others. As you progress through each arena, you receive an upgrade in the form of a new skill mechanic for your boomerang or a permanent upgrade to your shielding.
The game does an excellent job of providing a tutorial for each upgrade to the boomerang. It doesn’t just throw you into the next arena and make you figure it out on your own. After an upgrade is introduced, the following arena fight focuses on utilizing it. It’s a perfect transition into each new attack and each skill feels very important to the core gameplay, as well as completing the game. The gameplay is fast and tactical, with the positioning of the character before the boomerang goes in for the kill being very important. Building up combo moves for a special skill is necessary. Every action the player takes has to be thought out and planned within milliseconds to survive the onslaught of enemies.
In regards to the story, it’s ultimately very linear, but the freedom of movement from the playstyle never makes you feel confined, save for maybe later in the chapters where dozens of enemies are attacking you. The freedom of movement is extremely fun. There isn’t a limit to how many times you can slingshot and as the arenas become bigger and bigger as you progress further and further, the action of zipping around becomes necessary and intense. There are times where I flew around the map only to end up in the same place I started because of how fast I moved.
The enemy AI in this game is very direct with each type of goo monster having its own attack style. The majority of monsters target you throughout the arena by flight, though others may crawl. Some enemies spawn other enemies and others that shoot you from afar. In each arena, there are select goo monsters that must be killed to reach the next round. This creates a goal for each arena rather than just survival. The enemies become more complex the further you descend into the island. Instead of having a dozen flying enemies appearing, now there’s a gigantic giraffe-like monster that needs to be attacked in five distinct areas to be taken down. These combinations of different enemies become crazy throughout the last few levels. None of the monsters however are lesser than others. The small crawling ant-like creatures that appear in the first few arenas are still there in the last few and they are just as deadly as the flying ones that shoot a laser at you. No enemies should be taken for granted.
Visually, this game isn’t exactly new. The textures and environment are not triple AAA studios standards. Being an independent game, the visuals are more polygonal but everything is very clear. The enemies are detailed and differ in appearance so that while you’re mowing down goo monsters, you can tell which are which. They appear to be designed as menacing versions of animals, humanoids, and even objects such as a wheel. It’s very uneasy to see these shapes as later stages contain dozens of enemies targeting you. The settings are simple. Caves, open fields, volcano pits. Each becomes more deadly than the last as the game progresses. Every arena has its theme and that makes sure almost every arena is different.
Boomerang X is fairly quiet when not in combat. There’s very little sound, other than those made by the environment, like running water or quiet cave sounds. In combat, however, the music and sounds become much more intense. After each round, the music becomes louder. It flows well with the pacing of the game. The soundtrack can intensify a fight and even creates a sense of urgency and panic during high-speed combat. During combat, it’s intense and causes you to focus so much that music becomes a background element to the gameplay.
There are both controls for keyboard and controller preferences. Boomerang X also offers a few accessibility options for those who need it which I found fantastic for a smaller studio game to have. A timer can be activated in the options menu for speedrunners and those who want to achieve better timing in each arena. The speed timer gives a reason to return to the game over and over to become a better master of the boomerang.
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