Playstation

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Nippon Ichi Software is known for the popular Disgaea series and a fair share of survival horror titles like Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, A Rose in the Twilight, and htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. Their latest game, Poison Control, features a pink haired gal and an unknown protagonist coupled with the developer’s unique take on the third person shooter.          

The game begins in the fiery afterlife as you awake in Hell without a clue as to who you are or how you ended up there. Wandering through the dark desolation, you cross paths with a mysterious being named Poisonette, who hijacks your body without warning. It turns out Poisonette was a former Klesha, toxic manifestations born out of humankind’s delusions wandering the depths of Hell. After this fateful encounter, you venture through Belles’ Hades to defeat enemies and purify the souls of the fallen to escape together in one piece. With no choice in the matter, Poisonette requests your aid to help her reach Heaven where any wish is said to be granted in exchange for the return of your flesh and blood. Through the perilous journey back to the Mortal realm, you seek to uncover the truth about who you are and the answers behind Poisonette’s existence.

 

As one would expect, Hell is far from a welcoming place as it is littered with poison mires that emerge from the toxic emotions of the tormented and fallen ladies. Saving their souls is accomplished by purging the poison with equipped weapons called Toxicants and Deliriants. The gameplay is essentially a third person shooter as you fire poison bullets to subdue enemies and purify the mires by relinquishing your body to Poisonette to do the job. While in Purge mode, you are reduced to a skeletal form as Poisonette has a limited time to maneuver around before returning back to you. Cleansing an area of poison mires will reveal hidden items and chests and serves to reload the weapons’ gauges. On top of this, the Higan radio is an intermittent broadcast with a Fan Mail segment revealing the despair behind the Belles’ Hades in the form of tattered letters. Bonding with Poisonette is done within Heart to Heart conversations with dialog options to raise stats like Empathy, Trust, Insight and Synergy. 

Poisonette can easily trap enemies and purify poison mires by encircling them with a dotted trail. This tactic helps you to cover more ground to unlock power-ups and weapon upgrades. If she is hit by an enemy attack in Purge mode, all progress is lost and she automatically returns to your body without any purification. Destroying your enemies is done through poison bullets with other weapons like the Spread and Rapid Shots being useful against multiple foes. Poisons reflect the traits of the fallen ladies that are divided into four categories: Toxicants, Deliriants, Antidotes and Catalysts. These categories range from offensive weaponry to supportive boosts for defensive stats. Poisonette offers her commentary as you search for hidden items and subdue powerful Kleshas called Nagas that guard the passages of Hell.

 

The successful purge of the Belles’ Hades awards a sticker from the Higan radio that ultimately grants a passage to heaven when a total of five are collected. These stickers are delivered by hand via a special delivery Klesha at the very end as a celebratory prize. Purging one area opens access to the next respective area with individual areas marked by symbols on the world map. Hell is full of surprises with a visible gift shop managed by the Oni, Dorami Mitogawa to acquire special items. You are free to revisit old areas to achieve full completion at any given time. 

Visually, the game boasts colorful backgrounds and vibrant character designs. Without a doubt, much attention to detail was given to Poisonette’s outfit and fashionable accessories. There is no shortage of pink and purple shades as you explore Belles’ Hades and uncover the stories behind the other female characters throughout the game. The menu and dialogue text colors often change and coupled with the special effects, there was a rarely a time the game doesn’t grab or hold the player’s attention. It’s not an exaggeration to say the game has its share of artistically appealing moments.

 

Customizing the weapons and layout provides alternatives on how players complete different stages with their chosen preferences. Thankfully, the option to use the standard weapons is sufficient enough to allow most players to advance through the game with few to no barriers. This is a welcome change of pace as players need not worry or stress over the optimal poisons or categories to succeed with Poisonette as your sole ally. 

Poison Control is a surprisingly enjoyable game that is more than just beautiful artwork. The blend of third person shooting and exploration is charming and filled to the brim with light RPG elements and adventure. Despite the lack of enemy variety and a feeling of déjà vu with respect to the stages, the game shines with its intuitive gameplay, interesting plot and catchy soundtrack. Everything is not what it seems to be with Poison Control delivering an overall quirky and fun experience.

 

PROS (+): Colorful Visuals, Intuitive Gameplay, Interesting Plot

CONS (-): Repetitive Stages, Lack of Enemy Variety    

 

SCORE – 8.0/10

This review is based on a digital copy of Poison Control on the PlayStation 4 provided by the publisher.

 

 

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