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This series will never provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Ellen is remarkably great at escaping a number of assailants and captors!
  • Action Survivor: Finn. Not Made of Iron, not a Ridiculously Human Robot, and not a Vampire Refugee out of the four playable characters and has very little health to start with as a result (288, only slightly higher than Jack's 272 hit points), and isn't handy with any sort of weaponry to start with.
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  • Alternate Universe: Of PMC.
  • Apocalypse How: The worst endings. In Finn's scenario, killing Erin triggers the Crystal to recreate the planet...well knowing that it doesn't have enough power to actually pull off the recreation part, leaving Earth a ball of dust and water. In Alvin's scenario, Kyle reveals that it is too late, he's already activated the planet's ancient defense mechanisms, and Alvin goes back to the surface to witness everyone dying by fire courtesy of the doomsday devices.
  • Anti-Hero: Pretty much every protagonist with the exception of Finn and the unplayable Ellen and Wolf.
  • Arc Words: The title words pop in Jack's head before he figures out what it actually means. It's Erin's real name.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Wraiths. Kill you in one hit unless you're Alvin, and are extremely hard to hit.
  • Bullet Hell: A variant; the ridiculous amount of fire is due to the extremely high fire rate of the enemy, not the result of any intricate patterns.
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  • Character Level: Takes the form of skills, stat points, and perks instead of a discrete level. Regardless, completing a mission will raise maximum health and grant a new perk.
  • Children Are Innocent: The reasoning why they can become programmable Wraiths.
  • Child Soldiers: Where do military Wraiths come from? Scarlet-infected children being forced into sex slavery.
  • Crapsack World
  • Critical Hit: A perk allows Finn, Terry, and Jack to land these based on the amount of time they've been exposed to combat, and after a certain amount of time in combat (without extended periods of time out of it) they start dealing ridiculous amounts of damage. This gives the player incentive to play offensively. A perk for Alvin is the inverse of this, taking even less damage the longer he stays in combat.
  • Cuckoos Nest / Dark World: Jack starts out in one. All the demons who are attacking him in there are actually people not actually doing anything to him, and while killing them will get you out of it, you'll wake up in the real world with corpses around you.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Jack C. Denton is the third victim of the car crash that claimed Terry and her boyfriend and is actually dead. "Jack" is just taking up his name after stealing his wallet and set of pictures from the morgue because his real name, Kyle, drives him insane each time he remembers it. This poses problems later, when a group of the real Jack's friends meets him and has to claim to not remember who they are. This gets even more problematic when the mobs track him down.
    • This takes an even weirder turn when Erin becomes sealed into his crystal by the Big Bad, and as a result the real Jack manifests into reality. Though that isn't exactly the strangest thing to happen at that point.
  • Defector from Decadence: Wolf as well as Alvin and his F Company unit, should you choose to go for the better endings in his scenario.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight. Marijuana raises Jack's stability and increases Finn's health regeneration rate, but hamstrings their accuracy and agility for the next couple of hours. Alcohol, heroin, and ecstacy don't do anything good. Bluelit and Redac will heal, but at a heavy sanity cost for Jack (and if playing on Harder or higher as Finn, they don't work). Cocaine makes you move like a maniac, but good luck hitting anything. PCP has you take less damage against everything but high caliber magnum bullets and shotgun shells, but you hallucinate like crazy. It is also possible to OD on any of the "conventional" drugs except marijuana and die. The other two characters just refuse to take drugs.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Your Mission Score is directly proportional to how aggressively racists/feral wraiths/corporate goons/your own mind tries to kill you. If you're playing Ranked or Special, it is also directly proportional to how much damage you take as well. Jack taking more damage the longer he stays out of the Cuckoos Nest is also a mild example.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In spades. The game being Nintendo Hard when aiming for the Golden Ending also serves as a meta-example.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dreaming Drifter. It's Ellen's crystal and real name, created out of esper magic. Its purpose? Complete and utter annihilation of all organic life where it's activated. She and her twin brother actually ESCAPED from the Evil Empire long before the events of the story to prevent themselves from being used as weapons for planetary colonization again, and have been living a Fate Worse than Death on Earth, being recreated over and over again each time they die.
  • Engineered Public Confession: You can come across one of Senator Murdoch's snuff tapes. It is possible to hijack the airwaves and broadcast it for all areas within signal to see. The next day? News crew comes in, and as they do he performs a Hemingway.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Want the better endings as Alvin? You'll have to condemn the rest of your entire unit to be shot down mercilessly by the "alien" Evil Empire.
  • Fantastic Drug: Redac and Bluelit. The former is an incredibly potent stimulant, the latter leaves the user unable to act while being forced into enjoying everything that happens to them. Redac isn't used much for other things than recreational purposes, but Bluelit was used for extremely pleasant things such as date rape, torture, child prostitution, and creating obedient Wraiths out of children (some of whom were aforementioned child prostitutes.)
    • And the beneficial effects? Those are a result of them working completely differently to certain individuals. Those who have become Wraiths.
  • Ghost in the Machine
  • Golden Ending: Your reward for 100% Completion.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Erin and Ellen
  • Harder Than Hard: FUCK, indeed.
  • Harmful to Minors: Oh dear. Erin sells his body because he's been used to it for years as a child prostitute and being one in every past iteration of the world. That's not counting the sudden spike in (both involuntary and voluntary) child prostitution.
  • Hate Plague: Scarlet - the symptoms only appear after a subject's dopamine levels completely fail, though. Those infected are completely normal otherwise.
  • Heel Realization: Alvin finds out that the military has adopted the use of their own wraiths. When he finds out how they're made...
  • Hitbox Dissonance
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Subverted. Terry is actually a Ridiculously Human Robot controlled by her brain from miles away, and Wolf's cybernetic enhancements cause his muscles to undergo severe stress.
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted. All four characters need to rest or be maintained in Terry's case to restore any health, and it's only a small amount (fifteen percent, tops.) Jack doesn't even have this, which means what little health you have to start with has to last the whole game, and using certain drugs to heal yourself will reduce your Sanity Meter, and there's limited opportunities to raise it back up. This seems like it might make things Unwinnable if you sink below a critical amount of health, but every attack is designed to be avoidable and failing that you're given the option to refill your health at the cost of losing all your extra inventory when you restart a mission after failing.
  • 100% Completion: The criteria of which has a different definition; obtaining this is actually judged by your Mission Score, which also has a Karma Meter component. Doing (or not doing) specific things will lower the Karma Meter and thus will lower your Mission Score.
  • Hypocrite: Erotic media with fictional children are banned, but the very same legislators that passed such bills employ the services of child prostitutes.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Played with. In one of the worst endings, despite the Crystal telepathically telling Finn to kill Erin, the human Erin himself does not want to be killed because he knows it will kill off humanity, but the Crystal wanted it to happen because being part of the Evil Empire's army is a worse fate for humanity than extinction.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels:
    • Normal: Default game rules, difficulty is preset for each stage of the game.
    • Ranked: Default game rules, except that a Dynamic Difficulty system is present based on Mission Rank and the minimum is clamped to Normal difficulty presets.
    • Harder: You no longer obtain any stat points, all optional mission objectives become required to progress, and a specific unique plot based handicap is placed on the character of the scenario you're playing.
    • Harder++: On top of the Harder rule set, the Dynamic Difficulty system in Ranked also applies, where the minimum is clamped to the Harder difficulty presets.
    • Realistic: On top of the Harder rule set, the damage scale to the player and their allies is raised to the damage scale the Mooks take.
    • Special: Silliness Switch. Also has the Harder++ rule set.
    • FUCK: On top of the Special ruleset and game changes, every enemy is Made of Explodium and will explode upon death, causing damage to anyone in the vicinity, including you.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Jack gets hungry, sometimes. Because he sees real food as a blur and toxic. If you don't figure out how to fix this (and on your first playthrough you certainly won't), you'll be treated to a lovely sequence for the next person he kills: he munches on their corpse.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Found for each character on the way to the Golden Ending, except for Jack, who gets a Bag of Spilling for his troubles instead.
  • Interface Screw: A low Stability level for Jack will do this.
  • Kobayashi Mario: Arcade Mode. A selection of action-based missions from all four scenarios, and endlessly loops until the player dies. Ellen and Wolf are playable in this mode.
  • Last of Their Kind: Erin and Ellen
  • Lightning Bruiser: Terry.
  • Living Weapon: Those damned crystals.
  • Made of Iron: Unlike the other characters, Alvin does not take any permament damage until he is knocked down. Unfortunately, he cannot be helped back up by allies, but that's mitigated by being able to get back up by himself.
  • The Mafiya: You know things are pretty bad when they're the good guys.
  • Magikarp Power: Being able to take Redac and Bluelit. The former gives you a resistance to pain and a flat 10% health bonus, the latter clears all poisons, wounds, and injuries, but both drive you further into the Cuckoos Nest. Later in the game, this doesn't turn out to be as bad a thing because Jack later is able to see people that should be killed mercilessly as glowing white while in the Cuckoos Nest. Just don't make a habit out of it.
  • Meaningful Name: F Company, Alvin's unit. It doesn't stand for Foxtrot.
  • Mercy Kill: Wolf asks this of Jack, after a failed mission that left him and Terry mutilated. Not doing so just causes him to blow himself up with a grenade.
  • Mighty Glacier: Wolf.
  • More Dakka: Terry's approach to combat. Dual pistols -> dual SMGs -> dual assault rifles -> dual machine guns
    • And her partner, Wolf, one-ups her permanently with a minigun.
  • Multiple Endings (Four for each character. Finn and Alvin's endings run the whole gamut, but there's a limit to how bad things can get for Terry and Jack.)
  • Must Make Amends: Erin tries this over the entirety of the time period after stabbing Jack out of fear and creating something else entirely. It doesn't work.
  • Necessarily Evil: Jack. The real one, that is. He was keeping the various criminal organizations in check with regards to distribution of the virulently popular designer drugs as well as making their distribution more efficient. When Terry kills him in a car crash, after a very short while their greed goes unchecked and flares up wars between the crime syndicates.
  • New Game+: Completing a scenario with the Golden Ending will allow other characters to be played, inheriting 2/3 of the previous character's stat and skill points (if playing on Harder or Realistic, you will instead be given 3 more stat points to spend to start with), with certain global mission objectives completed and people already saved...but depending on which characters are played, this can be used against the player. Advice: Don't save Jack's scenario for last. (This option isn't available if you're playing on Ranked, Special, and FUCK modes, because of the difficulty mechanic.)
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Half of the game's plot would not have happened if it weren't for this trope.
    • Nice job getting into an argument with your boyfriend and killing yourself, your boyfriend, and the only guy keeping the crime syndicates from acting up for control over Bluelit production and distribution, Terry.
    • Nice job spreading Bluelit all across the country, Jack. No, not the guy posing as him, but you, Jack.
    • Nice job stabbing Jack, Erin. He was only trying to protect you the only way he thinks he could, and now half of him feels nothing but misery and hate. Maybe it's for the better, though, as that's the thing keeping him from becoming a full-blown Wraith, but it was the stabbing that drove Jack to become one in the first place. Hoo boy.
    • I don't know where I'm going to start with you, Alvin. All those children in the desert? You couldn't figure out exactly what happened to them until Wolf had to point it out to you, in which you went completely bonkers until he slapped some sense into you.
      • I don't think your brother wanted to come back to his family in the first place, else he wouldn't have shot himself in the mouth and driven a bullet-sized fissure through his brain.
    • Nice job saving the planet from the Scary Dogmatic Aliens, guys. They're so sore from getting their asses kicked that they called in so many of their friends that your planet can't handle them!
  • Nintendo Hard: Yes, an action RPG that is Nintendo Hard instead of laughably easy like the norm.
  • No-Gear Level: Finn and Jack are forced into this against their true final boss fights thanks to the Bag of Spilling. Not so bad for Finn, since his brand new machete kills everything (even Elite Mooks) in one swing, but Jack's shiv...not so much.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Have a mission score below 80 as Terry or have a mission score below 90 as Jack before the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Also attainable by dying in the Cuckoos Nest or taking too much Bluelit or Redac.
    • As Finn, let Ellen be sealed into her crystal. There's a good reason why you shouldn't let anyone wake the Dreaming Drifter...
  • Occidental Otaku: Partially responsible for the amount of Wrong Genre Savvy Ellen exhibits.
  • One Bullet Clips: Hilariously averted. Reloading will cause you to lose whatever ammo remains in the magazine.
  • Our Zombies Are Different
  • Overrated and Underleveled: Epic aversion in the case of the real Jack. He starts with a large amount of skill points (almost enough to level every weapon and misc. skill up to 4 out of 5) and near-perfect stats. To sweeten the deal, you can actually switch to him on the fly in "Jack"'s scenario, unlike other NPCs. You'll need to, given how Nintendo Hard it is.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Deliberately enforced on the enemies to avoid Fake Difficulty.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Multiple examples.
    • The Shining Revolution. The only people raising one finger against them? Street gangs.
    • Senator Murdoch's hard anti-gay stance ( and eventually, anti-interracial marriage stance) is only chump change for the rest of his horrible actions, such as filming personal snuff films with teenage girls as the stars. One of the (optional) objectives has you lead him to his well-deserved Karmic Death.
    • It looks as if the agents of the Evil Empire are about to be an aversion of this, but then the Big Bad of the story blurts out a crack at Erin being useless to his dead race by virtue of being homosexual in front of Jack. Guess what happens...
  • Preserve Your Gays: In the good-but-not-perfect ending, all significant heterosexual characters in a relationship have died or driven mad by the end of the story, and all of the homosexual characters are more or less intact in both body and mind (except for Jack or Erin, depending on how you handle things in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.)
  • Psycho Serum: The plant which Redac is made from. Which has a very familiar appearance...
  • Really 700 Years Old: Erin and Ellen. Their crystal forms, that is.
  • Reset Button: And it's out of charge.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Combine with Powder Keg Crowd for massive carnage]]!
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted, for game balance. They are more accurate and more powerful per shot than regular pistols, but they can only be loaded one bullet at a time slowly (slower than even a shotgun.)
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Partially averted. Erin and Ellen as crystals do remember everything, but when their human forms are rebuilt, they remember everything but not how they felt.
  • Sanity Meter: Jack has this. Keep it high, or else you're taking a trip to the Cuckoos Nest.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Taken to Anvilicious extremes in that the aliens are actually religious fanatic humans exiled from Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago and have created an intergalactic empire out of their terror in the time passing.
  • Shout-Out: Erin and Ellen are expies of the Vocaloid twins Len and Rin, respectively. Even have their voices in garblespeak!
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Erin and Ellen and Alvin and Jack/Kyle
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Ticker firmly rooted on the side of cynicism.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Not an FPS, though.
  • Stone Wall: Alvin. He may not be anywhere near as ruthless or fast as the other three characters, but he is nearly impossible to kill.
  • Take Your Time: Subverted. It looks like you can just loaf around in the Wide Open Sandbox in between missions, but you will fail them should the events said missions were supposed to prevent take place.
  • Timed Mission: You have two weeks before something terrible happens, and what it is exactly depends on your Mission Rank by the end of the game. (below 80, the world is doomed no matter what you do, at 80, the first condition is averted, but the humans in Earth are enslaved and/or recruited in the Scary Dogmatic Aliens' army, at 90, the "aliens" don't think the effort is worth it, but 100 opens a whole new can of worms in that the aliens commence an invasion because you've completely thwarted their plans to enslave humanity.)
  • True Companions: One that falls apart. Spectacularly.
  • True Final Boss: Two of them, one fought by getting a mission score of 90+, and the other fought by getting a perfect mission score, but in Terry's case she gets a completely different level.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: rocketman...
  • Vampire Refugee: Jack. He's been infected with the Scarlet virus and has gone beyond the Despair Event Horizon necessary by way of emotional abuse from peers and family members to succumb to the symptoms and has the strength and perception of a Wraith, but his separate personalities keep him from turning feral like the others.
  • Wham Episode: When Erin is sealed inside the crystal, he tries to use its powers in a vain attempt to escape. This involves (but is not limited to) sudden and destructive structure deformation of the planet, derangement of the populace (most of whom degenerate into feral Wraiths), and the real Jack materializing.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kyle calls this out on the real Jack due to his culpability for the widespread use of Bluelit. While Jack argues that it was Necessarily Evil to prevent a mob war from conflagrating, Kyle points out that what it ended up being used for wasn't much better.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Examples in the worst endings. The Crystal decides to use up its last remaining charge after Erin is captured to prevent the "aliens" from gathering more soldiers, and in the other ending, Kyle, after finding the forgotten defensive systems meant to eliminate all sentient life it wasn't coded to specifically protect (read: not espers), activates them for the same purpose (well, partially. The other reason is that the planet is a Crapsack World he's sick of seeing continuing to exist.)
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Ellen and Terry, much to Finn's displeasure.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In his descent into madness, Kyle gets this from a number of past friends (both dead (hallucinating) and alive) in the period of time he is unplayable in the better iterations of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. It doesn't work, so Alvin or the real Jack have to take the second approach.

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