I had a great strap line for this review. It'll come back to me.
I can’t remember the last time I was so instantly taken with how a game plays. From the instant you’re given the eponymous boomerang, it’s difficult to walk away from. Well, it is a boomerang. Part platformer, part first-person shooter, Boomerang X is challenging, rewarding, and brimming with visuals that are colourful and inventive, without distracting from the action.
After waking on a strange island, you’re tasked with exploring into the wilderness that lies in front of you. Equipped with only a boomerang, you’ll be dropped into several arenas, each of which with a certain number of enemies you need to kill in order to proceed. At the start, this is mostly spiders, flies and other wriggling horrors.
As the game progresses, you’ll unlock abilities like being able to zip towards the boomerang, which opens a whole new dimension to your mobility. A few hours in, if you’re touching the ground, you’re doing it wrong. There are few things more satisfying in recent games than clearing an entire arena in Boomerang X without even stopping for breath. The game very much encourages this. Later sentinel enemies will rotate on a dime, preventing you from hitting their weak spot. This leads to absolutely pelting round the rooms, which, while occasionally disorienting, is extremely fun.
Boomerang X has absolutely perfect pacing. No arena overstays its welcome, and new abilities are unlocked regularly. I think this contributed to the fact that I finished the game in one sitting. At just over five hours long, the only moment the game even began to drag was during the final boss, the difficulty of which was a fairly significant spike. It’s one of the few games I can remember that I finished and then instantly started New Game Plus, such was my appetite to continue using the incredible mechanics.
Boomerang X looks like the best PS1 game you’ve never heard of. There’s a brutal geometry to every angle, every sharp edge and every enemy that gives the game an incredibly clear, and memorable look. It combines this with wonderful lighting effects that’ll make you wish you had a second to notice them before you need to take to the air and perform your boomerang ballet.
While any plot is fairly sparse, the game creates a brilliant sense of atmosphere by interspersing quiet moments of reflection between the frantic action. These not only give the player a much deserved breather between the otherwise non-stop energy, but also serve to let you appreciate the brilliant art. You’ll also occasionally run into absolutely massive millipedes that just want to vibe and give you a bit of exposition. I love them and would like a spin-off where you play as them.
It’s just such an uncompromisingly cool game. There’s an almost Spider-Man-like flow when you piece all of the different mechanics together. As your confidence builds, you’ll see exactly how you’re going to take down each enemy in your head before you do it. Executing that remains challenging even after you’ve finished the game, but when it all works together, it’s difficult to remember a game feeling quite like it.
I can’t wait to see what this team does with another game in this series. I feel like I’m going to be talking about the movement in Boomerang X the way people talked about the swinging in Spider-Man 2 for the PS2. It’s a game I’ll keep installed for years, just to jump into a random arena or two and polish my skills. While I played through it on PC, I’m tempted to grab it on Switch too, making my way through it in an arena at a time before bed. Although, it gets me so hyped that I’d very likely be unable to sleep afterwards.
Boomerang X reminds me of Hotline Miami in many ways. Not only is it tremendously violent, utterly addictive and incredibly stylish, but it made me tell about five people that they need to play this game. The movement is flawless, the art style is unique and the pacing couldn’t be better. It’s a joyful experience from beginning to end and my best surprise of the year so far.