What are the most important elements that stand out in a good game? We could name a few. For me, it comes down to story, atmosphere, gameplay, and visuals. The perfect ingredients for a well-made product. But every once in a while, comes a game where one particular “gimmick” stands out and pushes everything else in the background. It’s usually a gameplay mechanic (or a part of one) that etches in everyone’s mind and people talk about it for years after the game has run its course. As an example, the acclaimed Spider-Man 2 came with a web-swinging mechanic that made history, and (sadly) no other Spider-Man game was able to replicate it properly. The developers of Boomerang X are aware of such stand-out moments in games and I imagine at one point they said “what if we just refine one gameplay feature and then make a whole game around it”.
I wouldn’t say that the story of Boomerang X is nonexistent but you would have to be really creative and imaginative to put the pieces together. You wake up on a seemingly deserved island and after some hopping about, you find a makeshift boomerang. There’s not much elaboration of who you are as a protagonist. I noticed some bandages on my arms so I could assume I am badly injured from the shipwreck (also assuming that I came on a ship, to begin with) or that I’m merely a mummy. I say makeshift boomerang but that thing is surprisingly dangerous and durable. There’s more to it than meets the eye.
The boomerang serves as your trusty sidekick, a tool to open doors and access new areas and a means to zig-zag around the level with ease. In any case, as soon as you get a hold of yourself (and your boomerang), your goal is to find more about your surroundings, explore the island and get out of it alive. The island is seemingly uninhabited with other shipwreckers or mummies but the population of the black goo creatures is at an all-time high. Standing still will get you nowhere and likely kill you but this is the part where your right-hand weapon shines. The level structure in Boomerang X is rather simple. You go from one linear area to the other, from room to room and you try to destroy the creatures of black goo. Some will fly around and some will move about on the ground. They all quickly recognize you as their enemy so it’s a kill or be killed situation. Every time you successfully clear a room by killing a set number of enemies, you are “rewarded” with a new boomerang/platforming move or a health point (so you can survive for longer). And this is where things start to get hectic and interesting. Soon enough, you learn how to quickly recall a boomerang you just threw, how to teleport to where you just threw it, how to slow time, how to produce a scattershot with it, and so on. Now throw loads of enemies into the mix and you have a recipe for gameplay that keeps you hooked with every new area you unlock. Sure, things might get hard, you might die more often than you think but it’s that enticing voice coming from Boomerang X that persuades you with “you will definitely do it now if you try again”. It’s infuriating, addicting, and insanely fun. What more could you ask?
The game also comes with a distinct art style. The environments are giving away an illusion of being hand-drawn (although they’re not) and with a slight hint of cell shading. You have vivid colors, even in some dark and gloomy areas of the game and the enemy design is unique as well as simplistic. On top of the game standing out when it comes to visuals, I should also mention the incredible optimization and fluidity of movements. At no point, the number of details on the screen will take its toll on the frame rate or produce any sort of stuttering.
While the visuals in this game stand out, I could hardly say the same about the soundtrack and sound effects in general. The music is the, it’s not repetitive, but it’s far away from being memorable or engaging. It’s merely your companion as you destroy the enemies so you couldn’t say you did it in complete silence. For what it’s worth, some tracks such as “Kenak, the Exiled Tyrant” or “Valley of the First Nymphs” stand out but probably because I died way too many times in those sections where they were being played.
At the end of the day, Boomerang X is a game that doesn’t shoot for the stars or tries to fly a bit close to the son. It places all of its focus on one thing and it does it incredibly well. When you get your boomerang and enter the very first arena in the game, it’s too late for you. You are already hooked. The new moves and enemies are not there to only amp up the difficulty, but the intensity of the gameplay as well as the fun factor. There is nothing like the feeling of clearing a small army of enemies in this game, flying around the room, picking one enemy after another, and landing on the ground without a scratch. At this point, I might just develop incredible bias whenever I see Devolver Digital as a publisher in a game. The chances are it will be something fresh, unique, and most importantly – incredibly fun. Boomerang X is no exception to that rule.
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