It was the original Mirror’s Edge that convinced me that first person games can be about movement as they are about combat—or even more so. There was a time when platforming in first person shooters was considered faux pas in terms of game design, but even beloved first person shooters like Doom Eternal require quite a bit of it. The blend of movement and fighting can be sublime in a first person game if executed properly, and Boomerang X is a great example of when action meets fast movement.
Boomerang X is a first person arena shooter that has an emphasis on fast paced action and freedom of movement. You play as a nameless protagonist, bandaged and shipwrecked. As you wander through the ruins of a dead civilization, you come across a bladed throwing weapon, much like the “glaive” from Krull which returns to you on call. This boomerang isn’t just a returnable weapon, however—it’s also your means of movement, as you’ll eventually get the ability to propel yourself to the location of your boomerang. In fact, soon after getting access to the boomerang, you won’t even need to touch the ground anymore. And that’s when the game starts to get really interesting.
Meanwhile, the setting and premise of Boomerang X is also interesting: something killed off this civilization, and that something is leaving behind black, goopy creatures that want to kill you. Most of the gameplay consists of moving from one arena to the next, and then fighting waves of monsters. At first, combat is almost too easy as Boomerang X eases you into its combat and movement systems. Then, things get really tough. Small, flat arenas evolve into sprawling battlefields, some requiring you to stay airborne or suffer damage. Certain enemies have weak spots, and can only be defeated if you destroy those weak spots. Some fire projectiles, others swarm at you—and others are huge, and create huge areas that will damage you if they aren’t avoided. Most arenas have about 5 waves of enemies, but you’re not required to kill every last creature to complete a wave. Instead, you’re required to kill all of the marked creatures, and that number ranges from a few to a few dozen.
Your boomerang is your main weapon in Boomerang X, but it’s not your only one. After progressing through the game, you will be granted power-ups that can be triggered in combat, usually by killing multiple enemies in a single hit. There is a shotgun-like scatter shot that can kill groups of enemies, and a precision shot that pierces and kills most enemies in a single shot. Eventually you can also slow down time to get precision shots on enemies, or maneuver out of danger. If you can’t dodge fast enough, you’ll take damage—with only a few hits before you die, and have to make another attempt. You can get more health as you progress, however—though you can also choose to ignore it for a greater challenge. It’s also possible to replenish health in the middle of combat, but it’s a risky proposition—one that’s likely to get you hurt unless timed properly. It’ll also slow you down if you’re going for a speed run.
Boomerang X has a ton of potential replayability, and that includes speed running—which it is built for. There’s a baked in speed run timer that lets you choose between timing a single arena or your whole playthrough. If you’re not into speedrunning, and still want potential replayability, Boomerang X challenges you by offering a new game plus mode with even greater challenges.
I can’t emphasize enough how fun Boomerang X is: Its mixture of movement and combat is done excellently, and it’s one of my favorite first person shooter arena games to come out this year. It’s not very long game, with a playthrough possible in a few hours—but it has a stylishly fun combat system that begs you to master it.
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