Boomerang X 3

Boomerang X Review

8
Addictive and frantic

Boomerang X, the first commercial release from New York-based developer DANG!, is a frantic-as-hell experience. Armed with just a boomerang and some handy unlockable powers, you must eliminate a monstrous threat lurking beneath the world, one seeking to corrupt and consume everything and everyone in its wake. It’s up to you to stop this leviathan-sized creature. Hurling your boomerang—and by extension, yourself—across 13 levels, you glide through the enclosed battle arenas like some airborne assassin, whilst defeating waves of grotesque ghouls all vying to desecrate your mummified body. 

Boomerang X has the trappings of a great FPS despite some performance issues hindering the game on Nintendo Switch. It even rivals the frenetic kineticism of developer id Software’s Doom, and the games inspired by Doomguy’s escapes like Project Warlock, Strafe, and Wrath: Aeon of Ruin.

You play as… a mummy, or something? It doesn’t really matter. Boomerang X’s narrative is delivered through environmental storytelling, like statues depicting quad-peddled insects called Yoran, and crystalised instruments. There’s also the friendly centipede Tepan occasionally hanging around the game world, imparting brief insights about where those monsters might originate from and how its village was destroyed. Otherwise, the plot is irrelevant, with hints of dark forces emanating from the leviathan-like monstrosity biding its time deep inside the world. In a game like Boomerang X, the focus is more on the sweat-inducing combat than whatever nonsensical narrative it tries to tell.

Paper-thin tale

Still, ignoring the story in a world as intriguing as Boomerang X’s is a bummer. There’s some real mystery behind the characters and setting—and particularly that mantid weapon you use. Who is the Yoran? What the hell is that leviathan-esque creature? How do we even end up on this random-ass island in the first place? None of these questions are answered and by the game’s end, many more remain. It’s fine if a game puts tight first-person shooter elements above its narrative, but there isn’t much to chew on in Boomerang X’s paltry story in the first place.

Thankfully, combat makes up for the inconsequential plot. Like Doom, Boomerang X is a momentum-based FPS. The key to survival is continuous movement; sit still for too long and you’re for sure dead. But unlike Doom, it’s much simpler and way more creative. With the Slingshot ability alone—which is unlocked early on and lets you pull yourself toward the boomerang no matter where it’s thrown—the momentum is fluid as you soar through the air, flipping around and sniping enemies (often in slow-mo with the Flux power) before jetting to the next spot. It’s an addictive loop riffing on teleportation, which is made all the more engaging when the three other abilities (plus one ultimate) are unlocked. 

And it’s here where you express yourself as an airborne assassin. Do you use the piercing ability Needle to take out multiple monsters in a row, or do you swap to the shotgun-like Scattershot to hit the creatures closing in on you, all whilst avoiding projectiles and the occasional screen-filling boss? It’s a tense cognitive and mechanical dance to outsmart both yourself (to preserve powers) and the enemies.

Soar through the wind

But when things get tense, and they will since everything wants you dead, Boomerang X tends to chug if not outright skip a few frames, especially on the Switch. You could be flying through the air one moment, using Flux to line up the perfect shot, only to then find yourself facing a different direction the next. It’s jarring and disrupts the momentum the game hinges on. There’s also so much happening that keeping your head on straight, whilst following the chaos, can be disorienting. This often leads to some frustrating deaths. However, they can be mitigated through a solid suite of accessibility and gameplay options, like increased visibility and an invincibility mode. As someone with impaired vision, having options to adjust the gameplay experience in such a challenging (and hella fun) shooter is a boon.

Boomerang X may not be perfect, but it’s perfectly addictive, a game just begging to be replayed. There’s even a built-in speed run timer setting and harder difficulty options and a New Game+ mode underscoring its replayability. Running through its 13 levels another time probably won’t peel back any more of the game’s very thin plot layers, but damn if it isn’t a blast to zip around like an airborne assassin.