By Alex Orona
Bombastic but limited
New indie developer DANG! has brought the goods in their freshman outing Boomerang X. A fast paced combat arena game that uses cell shaded first person art style with breakneck speed combat. There’s a deeper story of dimensional hopping insects and a tribe of people worshipping an ancient evil but that acts as pure window dressing to the challenging battle arenas that await.
In Boomerang X, you’re a faceless protagonist that has washed up on shore to an island that has been destroyed by an elder god. Moving through the remains of their civilization gives hints at the society that once existed, but rarely spells out the entire tale leaving a lot of questions unanswered. Along with that, you frequently run into a universe hopping centipede who also gives insight into that world while also expressing his desires to return to his home universe. This also gives little resolution into what it means for you besides setting up a possible sequel. The story is inconsequential when really what the game excels at is fast paced combat.
With combat, you can throw the boomerang and double jump. The mechanics start out pretty basic but layer on as the game progresses. The boomerang comes back automatically and can be charged up to go even farther. Later additional shots are added like shotgun blasts and laser beams from your offhand that are triggered by certain actions such as killing multiple enemies with a single throw, etc etc.
The big additions that ‘change the game’ is the ability to dash towards your boomerang and a slow mo feature. These make the biggest difference as you can now throw your boomerang in the air, then dash to it, catch it slow mo, and finally throw it again. This gives the game a massive amount of movement, verticality, and speed. The slow mo lets you plan your next direction but the dash is bombastic enough that wildly throwing and dashing is an adventure of its own. With these in your toolbelt you will destroy entire rooms of enemies without even touching the ground (and are encouraged to.) This is the pure chaos that is Boomerang X.
These toolsets are used within decent sized combat arenas. Some with lava floors, or spiked ceilings to try to limit some of the chaos but for the most part it’s free range and it seems to just go. The combat arenas themselves have decent enemy variety with shadow spiders, evil giraffes, flying squids and laser eyeballs. Arena after arena adds more and varied monsters in waves, with dispatching the correctly highlighted monsters being the goal. Sure, you could kill every monster but with a limited life pool, or respawning enemies it’s best to focus down the ones needed to move on. Generally the ones needed to be killed have specific weak points that are only available to hit from specific angles so your movement is key.
Nearing the end I found that the ai plan was to overwhelm rather than invent new enemies, so variety endt up being roughly like 8 different enemies over my 3 hour completed playtime. The arena battles are perfect for the wild barely controllable moves but I was hoping for some fantastic platforming challenges or puzzles. These moves seem perfect to navigate obstacle courses laid with death traps or figuring out complex mechanisms to unlock doors. Instead we just got super fun arena battles that feels like there was more fun to be had that was left on the table.
Boomerang X is a fantastic indie arena combat game with a great cel shaded art style that made the visual pop. The mechanics are solid and amp up any combat encounter to new heights but falls short with it’s limited encounters. The steak is there, just needs a good side to compliment it. Some puzzles, platforming or something else to vary the forward facing combat. A great meal just missing a side.