Everyone who peruses indie titles at this point is well aware of Devolver Digital’s repertoire. If you’re in love with a particular genre, chances are they’ve published a title from it, only with a unique twist. Do you like battle royales? Here’s a Mario Party battle royale. Are you a fan of bullet hells? Here’s one where dodge rolling is a central mechanic. Do genitals make you laugh uncontrollably? I’m a little concerned about your humor, but you’ve got that too. The latest from Devolver Digital, Boomerang X, expectedly follows in the Devolver standard. Is flying through the skies and slicing enemies apart really as invigorating as it sounds though? Find out in my review of arena shooter Boomerang X!
Ancient Ruins That Tell an Intriguing Tale
While there isn’t a whole lot to talk about here, Boomerang X’s plot offers a lot more than what’s on the market. As an unnamed creature, wrapped in tapestry as if you’re a living mummy, you’re traveling to unknown lands when suddenly, some otherworldly entity assaults your rickety old boat. Shipwrecked on an island, you must use your unusually agile skills to traverse the island, discover what happened here, and make your escape. You aren’t alone though, as a millipede friend is here to help guide you along the way.
This friend of yours acts very much as an exposition dump throughout the story, appearing every few stages to provide some words regarding why things are the way they are. That may sound monotonous as exposition dumps plague many forms of media, but Boomerang X makes it work by having your millipede friend be oblivious to much of what caused ancient civilization’s downfall. Bringing all the pieces together and interpreting the full picture towards the end can be a rather enjoyable experience, even if lying in the background. And best of all? Those of you who dread stories in games or reading endless lines of dialogue are free to skip past it. I had discovered this while flying through the title on New Game+, attempting to speedrun the game to my best efforts (my success in that goal is a point I’d rather not discuss). It’s a bold choice to let players skip out on the story, and while many of you will indulge in the backstory your friend offers, allowing that freedom to skip it entirely is a nice touch.
Slicing Foes Apart at Mach Speed
In the vein of many arena shooters out there, Boomerang X at a surface level is a very basic idea. You hop around, chucking your boomerang at various enemies to watch them shatter into dark dust. What elevates this is the sense of progression, with the game introducing fresh and more complex mechanics as you complete stages. Whether it be rewards for landing precise throws or brand new abilities that shake up the way you play, once you’ve had a fair share of a particular addition, the title throws a new idea into the pot.
This system keeps things incredibly fresh and engaging, as each introduction does plenty to ensure you’re whizzing through the sky at mach speed, tearing foes apart with a simple, well-aimed boomerang throw. The liquid responsiveness of each button press removes the downtime while ensuring careful timing will be the key to completing your objective. When combined with the increasingly challenging enemies, Boomerang X feels at its brightest with some of the most difficult, hectic gameplay you can find. It feels akin to a 3D bullet hell which, while not entirely original, feels fresh due to the lack thereof.
To top it all off, Boomerang X brings along a full suite of accessibility options so plenty of people can try their hand at the experience, something I experimented with while working on this review. You, of course, have the standard language options for the game’s various menus. On top of that though, the Accessibility menu features high contrasting colors, extra visibility towards enemies, interchangeable colors for various UI features, and much more. Mind you, I don’t personally use these features myself, but they’re great for those who require this sort of thing to try their hand at various titles.
My only issue with Boomerang X doesn’t lie in the gameplay itself, but rather the length of the experience as a whole. For those who don’t care to run through games on New Game+, I completed the whole experience in just under two hours. While it took me around 5 hours to get that and the New Game+ experience done and dusted, it all feels that it understays its welcome significantly. I can completely see why this choice was made, as this sort of gameplay can wear itself out fairly quickly. Regardless, I can’t help but walk away wishing there was more to it. What’s there is amazing, but it feels as though a mere taste of what was possible.
Still, if you’re fine with the arena shooter being fairly short, then I can promise from my review time that it’ll be far from where Boomerang X is lacking. There’s a lot packed into a small package here, and despite my expletives thrown in whenever I fail a particular section, I’m still enthralled by it all the same.
A Unique, Stylistic Approach
Where I felt Boomerang X truly shined though was its artistic approach, which features a roughly hand-drawn feel that stands far out from other titles. Every scene from lush forests to the darkest depths all feel beautiful and distinct, which when brought together with your otherworldly opponents, brings a sort of grotesque beauty that refreshes the senses constantly. Attention to beauty would be an understatement, with each level oozing a creative vision that’s fully realized, and rarely containing a dull moment.
Meanwhile, the audio suite presents a bold risk by developer DANG that works extremely well in their favor. Boomerang X’s soundtrack is one I would never listen to on my day-to-day, as various instruments clash with one another to create a piece of music that feels chaotic. And despite that, it feels right at home here. As you’re flying through the sky, worrying about 17 different things at once, the music accentuates that feeling that everything’s happening at once. And as it ramps up, that intensity impacts your sense of control over the title. It’ll easily go down as one of the most unique soundtracks in gaming I’ve ever seen. Not for its beauty, melodies, or flow, but for the air of tension it builds.
Boomerang X is yet another hit by the team at Devolver Digital alongside developer DANG, and one I have no regrets reviewing. The absolute beauty of its sights and chaos of its sound accentuate a game that feels very fun to play. And that take on the story that allows for indulgence or avoidance makes for an experience that many can enjoy. My only gripe is that there simply wasn’t enough, making me wish for more arenas to spastically shoot my X-shaped boomerang across. Regardless of its length, Boomerang X proves to put a lot of attention, love, and care into one small package and is more than worth your time (especially true for its New Game+).
- Incredibly fast-paced
- Consistently fresh
- Uniquely perfect sound design
- Beautiful artistic suite
- Surprisingly interesting story
- Understays its welcome