Title: Boomerang X
Release Date: July 8, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
The theory behind Boomerang X is enough to draw people in initially. The game handles a simple mechanic of throwing a boomerang that looks more like a chakram. The idea here is to first kill enemies as fast as you can, then move onto the next set of enemies. This pattern repeats until you reach the end of the game.
The story of Boomerang X finds you stranded on an island after a storm causes your ship to crash. With nothing left to salvage, your only choice is to explore. It isn’t long until you find a strange object left behind by whatever inhabited the island before.
Shortly after, inky black creatures block your path, forcing you to use the object to fight for your life. Finally, after making your way through several waves of enemies, you run across the first non-hostile creature on the island, a giant centipede named Tepan. Tepan explains that the black creatures had eradicated the island’s previous inhabitants. Leaving you to explore whatever remains of the Yoran Mantid’s civilization.
Bits of the lore are dropped by Tepan throughout the game. These chats provide brief insights into the Mantid’s culture and the island. However, these encounters are few and far between. There’s enough to get a general idea of the adventure but not enough to care about the direction or even facing off against the final boss.
Frequently when I would stumble across some structure and wonder what it was. Instead of exploring and figuring it out on my own, Tepan would spoon-feed the information almost immediately. This ham-fisted way of storytelling is the biggest problem that Boomerang X has. Instead of exploring the island, it feels as if you are taking a tour of it. Only stopping you along the way to have your tour guide briefly explain the area before moving on.
In addition, many of the areas are narrow hallways leading to an arena, which only exasperates the feeling of taking a tour. If these hallways were more open, this would help relieve some of that feeling. Along with following leftover writings of some of the Mantids, the narrative could be more compelling.
While the story isn’t the highlight, the combat itself is fluid and straightforward enough that it’s easy to get the hang with a nice layer of challenge. Your character is not very fast when moving around on foot, so you must rely entirely on the boomerang to get around. As you get through encounters, you unlock more abilities, making you even deadlier than before while adding more depth to combat.
After every upgrade, new enemies will appear suited to teach you how to use it. I appreciated this approach to teaching you how to fight, letting you naturally develop your fighting style. Once you get to the final stages, it’s apparent how the designers intended you to handle encounters.
Boomerang X does an excellent job of leading you to develop the skills necessary for the final stretch. Although, as I progressed further, I found myself enjoying my time spent with it less and less. This got to the point where I struggled to find the drive to complete the game even though it’s only 3 to 4 hours long. Still, combat can be almost mesmerizing as your muscle memory takes control and you fly across the arena to take out enemies.
I only vividly remember the intro and the first 4 or 5 encounters to any degree. However, the mechanics introduced have a lot of promise. I would just have appreciated using these to solve puzzles or for exploration. Frequently I would try to explore only to find a dead end. I mostly blame the beautiful environments for being so inviting. While they do wonders for the arena layout and add style to the combat, the world itself is underused.
Boomerang X is a speedrunner’s delight, but it seems to forget casual action fans. After the first playthrough, you’re free to refine your skills, but there’s not much to do thereafter. The beautiful environments beg to be explored but offer no reward or discovery, which is a missed opportunity. There’s little denying how fun this game is, but I couldn’t help but want more.
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