Over the past couple of weeks, I have been binge watching old YouTube content from my teenage years. While some of it has aged better than others, it did allow me to rediscover games I hadn’t thought about in close to a decade. This included Boson X. A title which I remember many indie heads playing at the time, but one I never tried for myself. Aiming to correct this, I purchased the game on Steam for the ridiculously low price of £1.99.
At its core, Boson X is a minimalist endless runner created by Australian Duo Ian MacLarty and Jon Kerney, AKA Mu & Heyo. It was originally developed through Steam Greenlight in 2013, and eventually released in late 2014. It ended up being the pairs final project in their tenure together, and in my opinion, was a fantastic title to end on.
While Boson X doesn’t really have much of a story, there is a basic concept that ties the gameplay together. A team of scientist are attempting to navigate through a massive particle accelerator to generate high amounts of energy. They are doing this in the hopes that it will allow them to uncover new particles, and ultimately lead them to the elusive Boson X.
Admittedly, this is a pretty prosaic notion. But you really aren’t playing Boson X for its narrative, or lack thereof. What you are going to be playing it for is its stellar gameplay.
When broken down to its fundamentals, Boson X is an incredibly simple game. You must traverse through a number of different courses, all of which have their own unique array of obstacles, hazards and pit falls. Whilst doing this, you’ll fill up your energy meter by running on the light blue platforms as they appear. Once your energy reaches 100%, you’ll have successfully cleared the stage.
Controlling your character is also absurdly straightforward, with a total of 3 actions at your disposal. You have the option to jump forward, to the left or to the right. It’s also possible to alter the height of your jumps by either tapping, or holding the button down.
Boson X is similar to the likes of The Impossible Game and Geometry Dash in that the complexity lies within the level design. However, unlike those two, the stages in Boson X aren’t fully predetermined. Instead, each individual course has its own unique ruleset which it generates from. This effectively allows each level to be independent of one another, while also creating new experiences each time you revisit a stage.
In addition to this being great for replayability purposes, it also harbours an immensely challenging environment. As such, it’s the sort of game that you’re expected to die a lot in. Although this might be perceived as aggravating from the outset, in actuality, it makes the game incredibly more addictive. Despite its unforgiving nature, I still found myself saying “one more shot” more times than I can count.
Art and Audio
The art design, as previously mentioned, is minimalistic in its direction. That doesn’t mean that the developers haven’t put any thought into it though. On the contrary, each of the levels have been constructed with a certain thematic in mind. This is usually representative of the overall challenge the stage presents. In a way, they almost feels like conceptual art pieces, as the impressions they elicit co-exist exceedingly well with the hypnotic gameplay.
The soundtrack is equally abstract in its approach, with repetitive and droning synth loops accompanying each of the levels. While I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to listen to this on its own, it does work supremely well in the confines of the game. In regards to SFX, there really isn’t much to write about. Whats there is perfectly serviceable though, and truth be told, that’s all they’re trying to be.
If you are looking for a fun, fast-paced endless runner, then Boson X might be the game for you. Its simplistic control scheme, mixed with the challenging level design, make for an addictive and engaging arcade experience. The stripped-down graphics, along with the spacious audio and OST, enhance the mesmerising nature of the game. If you’re looking for something to play over the course of a weekend, then I recommend you spend £1.99 and blast through Boson X.