Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre(s): First-Person Shooter
Platform: Switch (also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 08/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Boomerang X is the latest release from Devolver Digital. In this first-person shooter, the player wields a boomerang and fights hordes of dark beings. This title focuses on movement and encourages the player to gracefully soar through the air while bombarding their foes with attacks. Is Boomerang X worth a shot? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Where am I?
Boomerang X does not feature a deep story. The main character is a castaway who washed ashore on an island. He randomly wanders into his weapon and learns all the mechanics he needs to know along the way. Eventually, the main character begins to uncover the mystery of the land he discovered. There was a civilization before these creatures took over. The developers incorporate subtle theming all throughout the game. Early in the game, the player will pass corpses of strange insects. Their purpose is explained later. Even in the opening cutscene, the player gets a glimpse at what is to come. Without focusing on a large story, the development team incorporated enjoyable story elements and world-building.
Even if the story is not the central focus of a game, the game can still be excellent if the gameplay is fluid and enjoyable. Boomerang X is a refreshing take on the first-person shooter genre because the developers encourage the player to be airborne. The game feels fluid and precise in addition to that unique central focus. The developers also include a surprising number of options for the character that both fit the theme of the game and make the character’s move set well rounded. Initially, the player has few abilities and simply relies on their boomerang, but the player uncovers new abilities as they progress through the title. My favorite is the catapult. At any point, the player can propel themselves towards their boomerang while it is in the air. This can be used for positioning, evasion, and even just to speed up the player’s movement.
It can be overwhelming to learn all the mechanics of a versatile option at once. Thankfully, Boomerang X eases the player into confidence. A brief tutorial follows any new ability the player is granted. The player is at an impasse until they understand exactly how the mechanic works. It can be challenging to ensure the players completely grasped the tutorial even though these tutorials are well-designed. The level design in Boomerang X helps get players comfortable with their newfound abilities gently.
A level playing field
For example, the player must learn how to maneuver in the air. The first couple of levels are plateaus where jumping can be used to evade enemy attacks. Slowly, players are “pushed out of the nest”, and levels begin to have higher platforms. Players must leave the ground to fight enemies above them. Towards the end of the game, the floor is nearly gone. This system teaches players to learn the core mechanics without making it seem like they are learning. The level design was excellent.
Not only does a game need well-crafted levels, but incorporating intuitive enemy designs is vital. The developers of Boomerang X do an excellent job at telegraphing where and when enemies will attack. Even more importantly, some enemies have weak spots or cast shields on other enemies. These were clearly shown with vibrant colours or lines displaying where the shield is coming from. The enemy designs are logical, but they are also interesting. These are not just black silhouettes. Each enemy has a personality. Both in design and in attack pattern, each enemy is different. I enjoyed the enemy designs.
Indication is key
Without clear win conditions, it is impossible to complete a game. The developers of Boomerang X also made their game slightly different from other titles with their objectives. This title features arena-style combat. The player is constantly threatened as waves of enemies rush the player. This is standard. However, Boomerang X is set apart from its competition because only specific enemies need to be slaughtered. Certain enemies have a glowing yellow ring around them. This can be seen through walls, other enemies, and across the entirety of the screen. It is extremely evident which enemies are to be targeted. This system further encourages elaborate movement because the player will weave their way through enemies to hunt for their targets. The gameplay system, level design, and telegraphing compliment enemy design and form an excellent gameplay experience.
Tailored to the player
To continue benefitting the player, the developers included accessibility options. There are toggleable UI features for those who are colour blind, options to make the game less challenging, and a new game plus for players wanting further challenges. These options ensure the game tailors to all audiences and makes the game significantly more enjoyable to play.
Despite all the excellent features, there is one major drawback. The game is incredibly short. I completed the main campaign in around three hours. The new game plus offers some reason to revisit the levels but the main change in this mode is how many enemies need to be slaughtered. I would have liked to see additional levels or an endless arena mode where players can compete against their friends. These features would have helped retain player interest. Moreover, there are no collectables or reasons to explore. Considering how enjoyable the character movement is, this is certainly a missed opportunity. Regardless, the regular campaign was a riveting adventure, albeit a short one.
Unique visual style
The art design featured in Boomerang X was one of the first things to catch my attention. It uses flashy colours but never detracts attention from the enemies at hand. There is a constant balance between the vibrant backgrounds and deep black enemies. Though many of the areas are gorgeous, there are some which were disappointing. For example, in one moment of the game, the developers replaced the vibrant surroundings I appreciated with barren monochrome colouring. Regardless, the art style was excellent. The sound design was also pleasant. From the background music to the simple thwack of damaging enemies, the developers included satisfying sounds. Boomerang X showcases excellent visual designs and music.
Boomerang X is an extremely polished first-person shooter. The intuitive level design and interesting enemies make this campaign one to participate in. Unfortunately, the short run time may deter some players from partaking, especially at the price point. Regardless, I really enjoyed my time with this title.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Boomerang X on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.