Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release: April 13th, 2021
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Playstation 4
Poison Control is a third person run and gun RPG set in Hell. Your goal is to collect enough stickers to get to Heaven. To do so, you need to cleanse each level of Hell of the Poison Mires, created by the level’s Hell’s Belle, and free the Belle from their own personal Hell.
The game starts with you waking up in Hell, although you have no idea how you got there. The opening scene has a Klesha, a toxic creature brought to life by a Hell’s Belle’s delusions and desires, attack you causing your flesh and blood to be drained from your body. The Klesha is then transformed into Poisonette, your sidekick who helps you purify Hell of the Poison Mires and defeat the Hell’s Belle’s Kleshas.
After you meet Poisonette, you create your character. There isn’t much to the character creation, you can pick either a male or female character and choose between three different voices for your character.
You are then placed in the first level, where you learn more about the Belle of that Hell through a radio show. Each level opens with a short radio broadcast about the Belle and their own personal delusions and desires that create the Poison Mires in the level. Poison Mires look like slime and litter the ground of each area. To clean up the Poison Mires, you switch to control Poisonette by holding down one of the trigger buttons. Doing so leaves your character as a lump of bones and you move Poisonette around to collect the Poison Mires. As she glides away from your broken body, she creates a trail behind her, representing that she’s tethered to you and can only go so far. The best way to utilize Poisonette is to draw a circle around the Mires, as anything that is in the circle will then be collected.
Cleaning up the Mires will release Kleshas and this is where the shooting aspect of the game comes into play. Attached to your arm is a gun that you activate by holding down the left trigger button and fire with the right trigger button. As you progress through the game, you will gain new weapons that you can switch out with the upper right shoulder button. The other attack you have available to you is a special attack which will cause a shockwave to burst from your character that will do damage and knock enemies back. This attack has a cool down, so you have to use it sparingly.
You do have a health meter. If your health meter runs out, one of the butterflies in the lower right corner will disappear. The butterflies, in essence, represent your lives. You are given three lives and if all three lives are gone then you have to start the level over.
The game encourages exploration by hiding three poison gems within each level. To find these poison gems you’ll need to do things like clean up all the Poison Mires in the level, shoot boxes in each level, or defeat all the Kleshas that appear. The poison gems aren’t hard to find, as long as you explore the entire level. And you will want to collect all the poison gems as it’s one way to unlock new weapons and equipment. There are two different weapon types, Toxicants and Deliriants. Each weapon has a clip size and while some weapons will reload the clip over time, some weapons will require you to find ammo, which can be found by cleaning up Mires, drops from defeating Kleshas, or found in treasure chests scattered within the world. You are allowed to equip two different Toxicants and one Deliriant. You can unlock an additional Toxicant slot by leveling up your Insight ability with Poisonette (more on that in a moment).
The other type of equipment you can earn and equip are antidotes and catalysts. Antidotes protect you from things like poison from the Poison Mires (Poisonette can walk over the Poison Mires, but your character will get hurt if you do) or from certain attacks from Kleshas. Catalysts will increase your stats like health. You can only equip one Antidote and one Catalyst at a time. As mentioned earlier, you get new Toxicants, Antidotes, and Catalysts from finding all three poison gems in a level. You earn new Deliriants by defeating the final Klesha in the level and freeing the Belle from their Hell.
It wouldn’t be an RPG if there aren't some leveling aspects and there are several different leveling systems in the game. The first I’ll discuss is leveling your weapons. You can level your weapons by using coins found in each level. You can earn coins by clearing out large sections of Poison Mires, defeating Kleshas, or by opening treasure chests.
You also level up your relationship with Poisonette. After you cleanse the Belle of their Hell, Poisonette will have a conversation with you about what just occurred. Your response will build your relationship and raise stats such as Empathy, Synergy, Toxicity, Trust, and Insight. Each stat has different benefits. For instance, building up your Synergy will help with movement speed while leveling your Insight stats will allow you to add an extra Toxicant slot. You are shown which response options will affect each stat, so that takes the guessing out of which response to select.
The other way you level is the traditional way, through gaining experience by defeating Kleshas and clearing Poison Mires. Leveling your character will increase their health.
The game’s strong suit is the story telling. Each Belle has a story and uncovering the mystery around what happened to each Belle will keep you engaged. Unwrapping the mystery that surrounds you and Poisonette is also intriguing. The game’s combat does get repetitive, while each level looks different and has different Kleshas that represent the Belle, cleaning the Poison Mires and the run and gun aspect of the level is the same. But the story is so good that you’ll want to play through the game to learn more about the Belles, interact with some of the other comical and interesting characters in the game, and unravel the mystery behind your character and Poisonette and watch their relationship grow. There are quite a few twists in the story that I won’t spoil in my review. The other strong aspect of the game is the music. The music fits each level perfectly and if you are a fan of solid game soundtracks, this will be one that you’ll want to find for your collection.
Final Grade: B+
While the gameplay is a bit repetitive, the story behind Poison Control will keep you hooked. The story behind each Belle is unique and the mystery that surrounds both you and Poisonette is engaging. The leveling systems are simple enough to pick up on and the exploration aspects of the game and the weapon and equipment management are fairly deep. I highly recommend this game for people that enjoy visual novels but want a bit more combat and RPG aspects in their game.
Review code provided by NIS America