When it comes to anime-style games, they tend to take genres to the extreme. From extreme action to extreme romance and on to extreme horror no one is taking their foot off the gas. There’s nothing wrong with this but after doing it for so long it ceases to be surprising. The upside of this is that it allows us to focus more on the gameplay rather than the spectacle. The recent game Poison Control has found a way to tone down Hell. It seems even the bowels of the underworld can’t stop the overpopulation of anime teenagers running around making messes. As one of these youthful troublemakers, you’re in for a hell of a ride as you blast problems away.
Why the Hell are We Here?
Anime may have slow pacing and tons of filler but can’t fault it for its commitment. It establishes worlds and characters who often just go about their day as anyone normally would. That’s why the main character is usually someone who is completely in the dark and spends most of their time freaking out or asking questions. Which makes it odd that Poison Control’s protagonist is a boy/girl with nothing much to say. They wake up in Hell and are immediately attacked by a creature who transforms into a boob-obsessive “Poisonette”. After introductions, the two decide to share the body as a teenager with an arm blaster.
They travel to the “personal” hells of exclusively young girls to help them find closure by clearing up the toxicity or “poison” in their lives. By doing this, they earn stickers from an omniscient radio station which will allow them to enter Heaven. Pretty straightforward for an anime plot.
Hell of a Time
Considering how often Hell appears in games, it’s getting more difficult to portray it in unique ways. It’s even harder to make it a place that players would want to linger for a long time. Poison Control finds ways to make it an enjoyable experience. The first is the overall look of the game. Despite the serious tone of the quest, there is a lot of color and life in the world. Each stage has strong bold colors and the hub area has a vibrant comic look to it. Even the characters have detailed palettes that make them distinct from each other.
The gameplay itself is pretty fast-paced and satisfying. You can pick up the controller and jump into a stage to immediately start blasting. Stages are easy to navigate and have a lot of room to run and gun while enemies freely run around. Collectables are frequent enough to feel gratifying but not enough to make things too easy. There are a variety of different poisons with different effects and behaviors to best suit how you play. Even cleaning up the poison as Poisonette is a quick and clean experience. It has the pick-up and play feel of classic Mega Man games, just with far more young adult drama.
Hell is Still Hell
Paint it in whatever color you like, Hell is still a place you don’t want to be. Considering it offers eternal torment, you’d think one variant of that would be excess boredom. Poison Control is quick, but there’s so little to do. The overworld is nice to look at, but surprisingly empty being just a glorified level select screen. The levels suffer from the same problem, having very little going on of activity. When you aren’t battling enemies and wrestling with the aiming, you’re exploring blank spaces with a chest here and there. Even cleaning up the poison becomes tedious when there’s nothing in your way.
On that note, Poisonette has very little to do. All she can do is run around poisonous areas like a humanoid buffer. She can’t fight or use abilities, but can still take damage. Her character is somewhat interesting but intrusive. She talks a lot and interrupts the action every time she does. Whenever there’s a story event, everything stops and plays out in clean, but unappealing dialogue boxes. Cutscenes aren’t the most welcome part of games, but at least there’s something to watch. With Poison Control all we can do is just speed-read through text to make them go away faster.
Oh, What the Hell…
Poison Control is a 3rd person shooting anime-style game by Nippon Ichi Software. It’s available on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Despite the reputation of anime pacing, it’s easy to pick up and play for short sessions when you’re not bogged down with dialogue scenes. The action is nice, but the exploration is lacking. Still, if this has piqued your interest, you could still have a hell of a time.
TechRaptor reviewed Poison Control on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Nintendo Switch.
- A Colorful World
- Fast to Play and Go
- Run and Gun Action
- Finicky Aiming in a Shooter Game
- Very Little Exploration
- Intruding Narrative