Imagine a world where Hell is pink, poison seeps from its cracks and you’re tasked with wearing your finest suit and cleaning that it. Imagine if you will, you are Poison Control, well let’s take a look at NIS latest super stylish title.
Poison Control sends you directly to hell from the get go and of course everyone’s favourite cliche plot device amnesia has struck. You meet Poisonette who is a rather well endowed fan service character who can inhabit your body and seems to know the score in this hell.
Very quickly you’re thrown into exploring this pink “paradise” with Poisonette, guided by 2 mysterious and bipolar radio hosts and drawn in by mystery of the Bells’ Hell’s which seem to manifest in relation to several females who have died in questionable circumstances.
Should you “cleanse” the Hell from Poison and mysterious monsters called Klesha you’re awarded a sticker, 7 of these award you a trip into to heaven. Naturally you want this but Poisonette also has some motives of her own which unfold later on.
The main mystery while quite engaging is trumped by the sheer darkness and breadcrum narrative of the Bells’, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything about them but it gets real dark, real quick and kudos to the developers for approaching such delicate subjects as teenage suicide in the manner they did.
On the presentation side of things Poison Control, looks and sounds so quirky it’s endearing, from the character designs to the fact you take orders from what seems like the evil anime versions of the radio hosts from Splatoon, Poison Control nails intriguing art direction.
Graphically unfortunately Poison Control doesn’t look any better than many of the lower budget JRPG/Anime titles NIS were putting out in the PS3 era. The stages don’t have a whole lot of variety, enemies are rather drab looking and the character models are passable at their very best.
Performance wasn’t fantastic either, busy areas saw a lot of stuttering and enemies tend to pop in and out of reality in relation to how close you are to them. It is a little more forgivable in handheld over docked but regardless this one isn’t really winning any prizes.
How does Poison Control play? Well it’s a third person shooter with a quirky mechanic involving you covering an area to cleanse it of poison.
The core gameplay loop of the game is you head into the Bells Hell, wipe out Klesha and collect “memories” to figure out what brought them to their untimely demise. Klesha come from puddles of Poison and as luck would have it, Poisonette can clean such puddles by inhabiting your skin and walking through the poison.
You’re not defenceless in all of this, you have the ability to turn your arm into a gun and do your best John Wayne, the gameplay involves a ballet of shooting, dodging and cleansing poison, minimizing damage and maximizing areas cleared to get to the boss at the end of the Bells’ Hell and take them down, earning yourself another power in the process.
While on paper the gameplay seems quite fun the game is plagued by a lack of polish and puzzling decisions which leads to a particularly bad taste in the players mouth.
The levels are at times a little too basic and tend to bleed into each other with nothing in the way of stand out moments. The animations riddle this game is an almost low budget feel which coupled with the above gripe really have a knock on the otherwise stellar presentation.
The shooting mechanic feels like it was directly from KILLER IS DEAD, I love that game but the weak, flimsey third person shooting isn’t something I ever wanted to experience again in its floaty, impactless glory. There is a lock on feature to help you with this but consider it more of an essential mercy than a feature for people who can’t aim or aren’t familiar with shooters.
The combat pacing is also smashed from the get go until you get yourself a few new shot types. The reloading time scale is literally over 30 seconds AT LEAST and if a major part of your game involves shooting, limiting how much you do it and chastising your gamers for doing so with insane cool downs is a decision that never once settled with me.
While a negative to some and bonus to others I have to point out there is quite a level of fan service here which honestly just feels chucked in for the sake of “anime bouncy boobies = Sales” it’s never really addressed outside of some throwaway lines either.
I loved the story and the presentation of Poison Control and was more than willing to go on the quirky ride it advertised. Unfortunately the ride was plagued with bumps and misturns which soured me by the time I pulled up on the framerate hell known as the final level. While patches could smooth the animations and performance issues, the core combat system is too sour to touch sadly.
An inviting wrapper hiding some questionable and hard to swallow gameplay.
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