I love quirky Japanese games and Poison Control is definitely one such title so let's take a trip to hell and get ready to purify some hearts.
Poison Control has you control a dude who merges with a strange woman named Poisonette which factors into both its story and its gameplay. Speaking of story, the premise is that earthly desires cause destructive creatures named Kleshas to emerge so it's your job to infiltrate dungeons which represent people's hearts in order to purify them of these hellish beings. It's surprisingly simple as each stage features a distinct story that's rather basic although it manages to be quite satisfying whenever you resolve each tale. I enjoyed reading these little narratives in between battling demons as Poisonette is a charming character who wears her emotions on her sleeve. Overall, between the often goofy side-stories and the driving force that is Poisonette, the game world is definitely unique and endearing.
Before getting to the gameplay, let me just say that Poison Control is an impressively stylish and appealing game with lovely bouncy character art and by that I mean that it's lively and there's plenty of boob bouncing. Meanwhile, the 3D character and enemy models are a little on the generic side and the dungeons themselves are disappointingly uninteresting to look at even though each one features its own colour scheme. Everything is just so squared-off and one-note; it's like you're merely running on wallpaper patterns suspended in the air. On the plus side, the soundtrack is energetic and will get you in the mood for some shooting and poison-purging action.
Poison Control's core gameplay is a formula with 2 parts. First, there's the shooting where you cycle through a couple of weapons as well as a bonus weapon if it's charged then you shoot at monsters in a third-person perspective. You can also deploy a Soulshock special move when its gauge is full that severely damages surrounding enemies. Anyway, the shooting is incredibly basic and not all that satisfying. What makes it even worse is that you'll sometimes aim perfectly and be close to an enemy but your shot will miss. It's also hard to tell what's around you while aiming so an enemy can spawn behind you and get a surprise hit in without you being the wiser.
In addition to shooting, you'll also send Poisonette out who can glide over pools of poison in order to purify it. This doubles as an attack because if any enemies are standing on poison when it gets purified, they'll take damage. However, this system isn't all that involving either but it is cool that combat has these 2 parts nonetheless. I also enjoyed the level-up system where you can earn boosts by choosing different options within heart-to-heart scenes with Poisonette and earning new gear is rewarding, too, especially because you can level up your weapons and doing so may eventually unlock useful skills and boosts as well so you'll be even more powerful.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that on top of the clunky shooting gameplay, the graphics sometimes stutter which is extremely disorienting. For whatever reason, I found that they came to a standstill most often whenever I dodged so I stopped dodging altogether because it was giving me a headache but that made combat even more frustrating. It's certainly a lose-lose situation.
If Poison Control smoothed out its combat and performance issues while adding more interesting complexity to its gameplay then it could be quite a fun quirky little game. As it is, it's certainly charming but definitely difficult to recommend.
- + Interesting blend of projectile-based combat and poison-clearing mechanics
- + Goofy and endearing game world
- + Lovely art and energetic soundtrack
- - Some severe issues with combat
- - Dungeons are very plain and one-note
- - Problematic performance issues