Welcome To Your Boom
Developed by New York-based indie game developer DANG! and published by Modus Games, Boomerang X is a first-person arena shooter with an interesting twist. Rather than dispatching your enemies with an assortment of guns, you wield a…wait for it…boomerang. However, this isn’t just any boomerang. It’s a mystical boomerang, capable of giving whoever wields it some pretty amazing powers. In Boomerang X, you’ll use these abilities to defeat shadowy creatures and explore a strange and desolate world to uncover its secrets.
I recently had the chance to spend a few hours with the game. And I have to say, this early taste left me pretty impressed. With fast and frenetic combat and a unique gameplay hook, it’s easily one of my most anticipated indies on the horizon.
Have Boomerang, Will Travel
Boomerang X begins with the player shipwrecked on a strange, seemingly deserted island. After making your way through a village full of ruined thatch huts, you find yourself in a cave and come upon the game’s titular weapon. At first, using your boomerang is straightforward enough. Pressing the left mouse button sends your boomerang soaring through the air, while you can use the left button to recall the weapon. Holding the attack button down for a second will charge your attack. This helps when trying to throw the boomerang further or lob it through multiple enemies at once with its potent penetrating power.
All of this sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, it doesn’t take long before Boomerang X turns things upside down with its more inventive mechanics. As I said at the outset of this preview, this is a mystical boomerang that we’re talking about. And, as such, it does some nifty things that would make Crocidile Dundee green with envy.
The first, and most integral skill you’ll unlock, is Slingshot. This technique allows you to instantly teleport to wherever your boomerang is and ride its momentum to help clear gaps and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. What’s especially cool about this ability is that you can throw your boomerang again immediately after performing the move. This means you can effectively use it to fly and kill dozens of enemies before ever touching the ground. It’s just as awesome as it sounds, though I’d be lying if I said it isn’t a bit disorienting at first. Thankfully, you do get used to it after a little while.
What Comes Around Goes Around
While Slingshot is a great way to get around, most of the other skills you’ll unlock are designed with destruction in mind. What’s particularly interesting is the way these abilities play off of each other. For example, to use Scattershot, which peppers a wide area with shotgun-like carnage, you’ll need to first kill at least two enemies with a single charged throw. Kill at least 3 enemies with your Scattershot, and you’ll then be able to follow up with Needle, a precise, penetrating blast of energy that can pierce a half dozen baddies at once.
Having access to your abilities tied directly to your skill level sounds like a lot of work. But honestly, I believe it’s one of Boomerang X‘s most refreshing aspects. I found myself looking at each arena like a skatepark in a Tony Hawk game as I tried to maximize my kill chains to unlock my more devastating attacks. And you’ll need to strategize, too, as the enemies you’ll encounter are relentless. From giant frogs that spew torrents of caustic liquid to slender spirits that can quickly teleport out of your reach, these foes are relentless and will keep you on your toes.
Speaking of keeping you on your toes, I have to talk about the game’s sound design. Boomerang X features some superb sound direction that does a great job of pulling you into its strange, alien dreamscapes. From atmospheric environmental effects to the sound it makes as your boomerang cuts through the air, it’s all awe-inspiring stuff. The music is especially noteworthy. It’s just so tense and menacing and really complements the combat’s frenetic pacing.
Give It A Whirl
If I have one complaint about my time with the game, it’s that these enemies might be a little too aggressive. Each arena has several healing pads you can stand on to recover a bit of health. The problem is, at least in the game’s current state, they’re a bit unreliable. By the time I was able to use them, I’d usually take more damage than I had before I started the healing process. Enemies are relentless and will doggedly chase after you, so standing still really isn’t an option. I really feel that a few seconds of downtime between waves would go a long way towards addressing this minor gripe. But again, while it’s occasionally frustrating given just how long some of these arenas can be, I wouldn’t call it a game-breaking issue by any stretch.
With its highly kinetic action and surreal, cel-shaded visuals, Boomerang X certainly makes a strong first impression. If the full game manages to keep up the momentum founds in the game’s first few hours, I think fans of first-person arena shooters will be in for a treat when it soars to its full release on Steam later this year.
If you want to see what the game’s all about, you’re in luck. A free demo is now available on Steam.