It’s hard to review games like Boomerang X. It starts off with an amazing first impression, but as you go through the same trials and tribulations over and over again, you begin to realize it’s more shallow than you initially are hoping. It’s like meeting up with a Tinder date; it looks attractive and complex at first glance but underneath it all, Boomerang X becomes uninteresting pretty fast.
a great first impression
Boomerang X is a first-person shooter without a gun. Instead, you are exploring a strange island with nothing but a boomerang and a few special abilities. Those hoping for an engaging narrative to drive them through the game will be left wanting more, as Boomerang X is gameplay-focused like the Doom series. In the game, your boomerang can teleport you from place to place as you glide through the air at a high velocity. With the addition of a neat slow-motion mechanic that lets you plan out your moves accordingly, it feels gratifying to control. Finding a creature’s weakness, taking out and then sliding among the in-game structures to use as cover, is absolutely exhilarating. But, after an hour or so, it begins to feel stale, thanks to the overall dull game loop of Boomerang X.
waves upon waves upon waves upon waves upon waves
The levels are structured with waves upon waves of enemies, and with each new area, there is typically another type of enemy to fight against. With the exception of the end section of the game, there aren’t any bosses or big set-piece moments at the end of each level; you just wipe out the same creatures over and over again for around five to seven rounds until you finally are free of the pests that block your way forward. Thankfully, there is a way to heal yourself with small hubs around each arena, but, and this is a big but, there is usually too much happening on screen to let you recharge. You see, there is a timer before it gives you one health point. It takes about three to five seconds to get, and by that point, you’ll likely lose the point you just replaced as so many enemies and projectiles appear on screen at once. It’s frustrating, for sure, but this element of the game would be improved if it only takes you one second to get a health point instead.
It also doesn’t help that the platforming doesn’t feel the best either. As I played this on the Nintendo Switch, I didn’t have the accuracy of a mouse and keyboard, and it often auto-locked to the wrong enemy. I also feel like it doesn’t give you enough of a reaction time to get out of awkward situations. The momentum you gain from teleportation is hard to control and makes it difficult to land on platforms.
With Boomerang X’s repetitious nature in mind, the structure is arduous, and thanks to the game’s difficulty, you’ll likely have to encounter the same level over and over and over again to the point it will dry your patience. You see, there are no checkpoints to speak of, only at the beginning and the end wave segments of each level. In some cases, you’ll have to play 10-15 minutes of the level again and again if you happen to die. If there was a checkpoint at round three or four of seven, it would be much more forgiving and less of a time-waster.
You’ll likely throw your controller (hopefully not your Switch) at the wall, for sure, as you spend so much time trying to beat a level and then failing at the last moment. It doesn’t respect your time, and in this generation of gaming, it’s hard to stomach as many other indie titles vie for your attention.
While repetitive, the creature designs are awesome
Despite my issues with the structure of the game, the enemies are cleverly designed to make the player work in different ways. For example, there’s a toad-like creature that hops up and down. There are two weakness points on its body. One on its back and another on its stomach. You’ll have to avoid its impact on the ground, in addition to the toxic spew that it releases from its mouth. It tests your reaction skills and forces the player to make some precision-based shots on its back and stomach. I also like the firefly-like creatures towards the latter half of the game that can combine into a huge vertical blast of light. It’s a spectacle and somewhat unexpected from such weak monsters such as these. It’s just a shame that these enemy types are repeated many, many times throughout the game, let alone just one level.
While the constant rotation of different foes is a welcome sight, the game begins to become a chore as it falters at giving the player enough curveballs to draw their attention. There are special abilities that are given to you as you progress through Boomerang X. First, is the scattershot that acts similarly to a shotgun; the widespread shot takes out multiple foes at once. Second, is a spear-like move that is a more accurate and far-reaching option than the default boomerang. There is a third power-up, but as that’s a spoiler, we won’t reveal that here. To put it briefly, the third acts as a super move, but due to it giving you a blurred vision, it’s hard to utilize in key moments. You’ll also gain the ability to thrash opponents with a stomping attack after getting a streak of kills in the air. They’re cool abilities at first that you’ll need to master in order to succeed, but it doesn’t take away the tedium of Boomerang X at all.
a Cool art style, but annoying music to accompany it
What makes Boomerang X slightly more engaging is the art style. Its cel-shaded graphics pop on screen, and the color palette draws you into its suspenseful world. The creature designs have an ink-like look to them, and the world of the game is based on a lost civilization that seemingly failed to contain these villainous beings. It gets more sinister as you go deeper and deeper into the environment of Boomerang X.
In addition, the stages are designed to create dynamic moments in the game. For example, on a volcanic level, there is a lava pit on the bottom and a narrow vertical format to the map that tests your mettle in a different way.
The use of color to draw out certain aspects of the game is used in clever ways, but I did find it difficult to spot the essential enemies you need to take out with every wave. They’re highlighted in yellow, but they’re often hard to pick out from the chaos of battle. It’s a small nitpick, but it’s an important element of the game that needs to stand out more in Boomerang X itself.
Another disappointing aspect is the music. The instruments are played chaotically to match the intensity of the game, but it often comes across as more annoying than immersive. When every round was completed, there is a sense of calm that I take pleasure in before it goes back to the annoying soundtrack that rattles my brain. It could simply be a qualitative matter on my part, but it truly makes me want to put down the controller and play something else.
A disappointing effort
Boomerang X is an unpleasant experience to play at least on the Nintendo Switch. The controls are hard to manage, the wave-based structure of the game outstays its welcome, and the lack of checkpoints makes this game not respectful of your time. While the aerial combat of Boomerang X is cool at first, it’s an overall shallow experience that I won’t be returning to anytime soon. Swipe left.
A Switch review code was provided by Devolver Digital