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Image: DANG!/Devolver Digital

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Boomerang X makes winning feel like a cheat

If you’re Boomerang X-ing correctly, you’ll never touch the ground

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Boomerang X made me feel like a genius, like I was getting something over on a hard game by circumventing its level design. It wasn’t until I reached the game’s truly difficult sections — the end of the whole thing — that I began to realize I was not a god-tier game-breaking genius, but that developer Dang! spent the entire game teaching me to fly.

What originally felt like an overpowered exploit of Boomerang X’s mechanics turns out to be mandatory if you want to succeed.

What is Boomerang X?

The Boomerang X mummy attacks some blobs mid-air
Touching the ground in Boomerang X is the easiest way to die
Image: DANG!/Devolver Digital

In Boomerang X, an arena-based first-person shooter, I play as a mummy with a golden boomerang that I spin like a fidget spinner. I jump around arenas, slinging my bladed boomerang at baddies, trying not to get hit. I upgrade it over time, but it starts with the basic properties you might expect: I click to throw it out and it returns to me once it reaches its apex. I can immediately recall it, as if it were Mjolnir. The boomerang damages enemies it passes through — either on its initial or return trip. One hit will kill most creatures, but there are those that I can only destroy by hitting their weak spot.

Combat in Boomerang X is frenetic. Enemies scurry along the ground or fly through the sky. I’m jumping over enemies, catching my boomerang mid-air, and slinging it out at a new target before I even hit the ground. I spend multiple rounds in a single arena, focusing on clearing out enemies. A new wave will only begin after I kill a handful of marked monsters.

Every couple of arenas I enter a kind of cosmic loom — a harp-in-the-round. Magical particles dance between the strings, and slinging my boomerang into them causes a low hum to resonate around the chamber. When the chime is complete, I escape with a new ability.

One of the first major abilities I pick up is called Slingshot. The idea is simple: Instead of recalling the boomerang back to me, I can pull myself toward the boomerang during its flight. With precision, I can use my new trick to climb up mountains or make my way to high-up platforms. And with practice, I never need to touch the ground again.

When success feels like cheating

The Boomerang X mummy snipes some enemies
Boomerang X offers a variety of skills, and you’ll need to use them all
Image: DANG!/Devolver Digital

Slingshot has no cooldown, which means that I can perpetually throw my boomerang, slingshot to it, and throw it again. Slingshotting feels like flying, even if I’m actually just resetting my position while constantly falling through the air. Where I used to run and jump over enemies, I’m now constantly dashing above their heads and behind their backs to hit weak points.

Boomerang X’s bullet-hell nature makes it difficult to navigate, with enemies launching themselves or projectiles everywhere. I have to develop split-second decision making so I can throw my boomerang, recall it as I’m falling, and aim elsewhere so I can fly again.

Still, flying through an arena feels like cheating; ground-bound enemies stare up at me, unable to do anything until my feet touch the ground. But Boomerang X’s biggest secret is that flight isn’t some kind of hidden mastery. In the game’s final arenas and boss battle, the floor is essentially non-existent — or it’s literally lava. Flying isn’t an option anymore, it’s a necessity.

Slingshot is that rare, transformative game mechanic that changes everything about a game once you master it. With just this one ability, Boomerang X goes from a twitchy arena-based shooter to a game that’s more about traversing the space around you without colliding with your enemies. It took me less than two hours to finish, but Boomerang X is a game I won’t ever stop thinking about.

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