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Video Game / Punishing: Gray Raven

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The abyss looks into you
when you look long into an abyssnote 

Punishing Virus Catasrophe—Originating in our most prestigious laboratories. In a few short years the virus wiped out thousands of years of human civilization, forcing us to seek refuge off-world... The courageous choices you make today will light a new flame, a glittering star in the darkness. May every child of humanity be able to return home safely.
Hassen, Leader of Humanity, speaking at the start of the Reconquista Age

Punishing: Gray Raven (战双帕弥什) is an online, free-to-play 3D Chinese Action RPG for Android, iOS, and PC.

In the distant future, mankind's first zero-point energy nuclear reactor gives birth to a new type of virus in its vacuum chambers, known as "the Punishing". When it escapes and spreads along the wind currents of Earth's atmosphere following an explosion, the cybernetic pathogen proceeds to kill humans and infect machines, causing them to mindlessly seek to destroy anything with a human consciousness. Humanity thus sees no other option but to escape into space, where survivors live aboard the space colony Babylonia. To reclaim their lost planet, humans devise a way to modify their bodies into virus-resistant cyborg-like: the Reconstructed Soldiers, or in its short form, the constructs.

You are the commandant of a team of constructs: Gray Raven Squad. With them at your side, the counter-invasion of Earth will begin its next chapter.

At its core, Punishing is a high-speed action game in the vein of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, with the wrinkle of a Match-Three Game: As players land hits with default attacks, a queue begins randomly filling with one of three different types of special moves. If two or three prompts get joined together, the attack becomes much more powerful, and opens access to each character's unique passives.

Punishing is developed and published by Kuro Games using the Unity Engine and first released in December 2019. It was originally only available in Chinese through an official client, Bilibili and Taptap — the Taiwanese version was released in August 2020; the Japanese version was released in December 2020; and a Global version released in July 2021. In May 2023, a PC client version was launched, with English voicelines added two months later for the Global’s second anniversary.

In October 2020, a Super-Deformed The Anime of the Game, Panini: Gray Raven aired on BiliBili.

Warning: Since the Global release of PGR is roughly two years behind the Chinese release in terms of playable characters and story content, there will be spoilers, marked and unmarked.

This game provides examples of:

  • Accent Adaptation: When the English dub was implemented, several characters were given British accents, typically to emphasize social class or sophistication. This is understandable for Chrome and Selena (despite the latter being of German descent). Qu, the empress for the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of China, and Bianca who is a nun hailing from a slavic country having them too is... a choice.
  • Achievement System: Through playing the game, players can perform certain tasks or reach milestones, such as leveling up Constructs or completing missions, that award items like Serum, Memories, and more.
  • After the End: The Punishing virus has left the world devastated, leaving various robots and post-humans to battle to see who will inherit the Earth.
  • All for Nothing: Untold Naraka ends in an incredibly Yoko Taro-esque way. The machines of Naraka were created by the School of Sapiens, a group of humans who decided to form their own society away from the Punishing outbreak. The machines fight each other for 100 years, and wind up getting defeated by Gray Raven, a group of outsiders who stumbled upon the facility by accident. After fighting their way to the core of the facility and defeating Machiavelli, Naraka's "Final Arbiter", it's revealed the leader of Sapiens staged Naraka as a test to see whether machines could evolve to the point of abandoning war, supposedly unlike humans. Ultimately, the whole scheme was a fruitless endeavor, and in the end, the few surviving robots wind up being destroyed by the Corrupted in the outside world, proving absolutely everything the School of Sapiens believed in was invalid.
  • All Just a Dream: If the title Reveries With A Whale, or its CN version, Wandering Dream With Whale, wasn't obvious enough, the bizarre quest Pulao undertakes in that chapter turns out to be the events of a dream, with the cast cobbled from acquaintances she meets day to day.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During The Surviving Lucem, a boy named Stanley watched as Liv helps a boy, then turns his attention to said boy's parents and notices that the mother is clearly pregnant. After a moment, he promptly explodes at them for having another child when they can't even care for their existing one, and wonders if they are just doing so for personal benefit, since expecting parents get preferential access to Conservation Areas. He's visibly thrown for a loop when it turns out the pair adopted the boy after his parents died.
  • Attack Drone: Untold Naraka, being a Crossover with NieR: Automata, included Pods from the guest game that assisted during stages. Later, the Echo Aria update added "CUBs" ("Combat Unit Booster") that can be upgraded separately to give buffs to the characters equipping them, as well as attack on their own.
  • The Anime of the Game: Panini: Gray Raven, a Denser and Wackier series of short animations based on the game.
  • Animesque: The game's character art and models take visual cues from Anime, and some character archetypes and mannerisms invoke common anime ones. Despite that, and the presence and usage of Japanese voices, the game's parent company — Kuro Games — is Chinese.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The game's "hidden" chapters, which are unlocked as the player progresses through the chapter, explores events related to prior chapters from different perspectives, adding new context to each storyline.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Missions completed after the first attempt can be redone automatically without the need for battle as many times as your Stamina permits. This significantly eases farming for essential items like EXP material.
    • With characters having different ways to activate their passives, the game makes sure players have some way of learning them, with specialised tutorials, a practice room, and, at the very least, making sure the information is the first thing seen on the pause screen when a stage is active.
    • 9S's Limit Break takes the form of a Hacking Minigame, but there is also a menu option to remove the sequence so that 9S will automatically damage an enemy if the player doesn't want to put up with it.
    • The initial run of Untold Naraka was very generous for those who wanted to unlock all of the crossover characters - 9S was awarded for free via a 7-Day login streak, while A2 could have her data farmed from the event stages. Note that this only applied for the initial run of the event — these features will be scrubbed in a rerun.
    • Following the Echo Aria update, resonating a memory automatically locks it. This prevents players from accidentally auto-scrapping any while clearing out their inventory if they aren't in a character's memory slots — something very important to avoid, considering the amount of investment that would have gone into any.
  • Ascended Meme: invokedThe overlapping playerbase between P:GR and the Devil May Cry series has led to certain Vergil-related memes and nicknames being used on Alpha. This includes calling her "Vergil's Daughter" (which resulted from some meme trend within the anime/gacha game fans of the Devil May Cry community where any anime girl who fights using Iaijutsu and/or directly copies Vergil's moves and effects get labeled as his "Daughter"). Kuro Games has noticed the trend and when Crimson Weave Alpha was released, they implemented a game emote depicting her sitting in a plastic chair, referencing the "Vergil Chair" meme spawned from Devil May Cry 5.
    • Trailblazers furious punches have drawn him comparisons to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with an emote sticker being released of him shouting "Ora!Ora!Ora!".
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Parties can only have up to 3 characters at once. In story-related missions, sometimes, you'll be forced to deploy a lesser number of characters.
  • Automatic New Game: A fresh game account starts with an In Medias Res of the initial invasion of Earth, introducing the combat mechanics and a Hopeless Boss Fight before the game's tutorial guides you through the menus. It's only after the first two missions that the game begins to ease up and let players poke around on their own.
  • Bad Future: By Her Last Bow, the war has grown so dire that Gestalt predicts three potential conclusions, none of which are in humanity's favor — Babylonia wins, but depletes Earth's resources so badly they have to flee the planet, the Awakened Machines win and enslave humanity, or the Ascendants win and the Punishing Virus succeeds in terraforming all organic life off Earth.
    • During Part 18, in one simulation Nanami runs, every event that happened up to this point goes is a bad ending compared to the original. As Alternate!Murray explains, the Commandant becomes the leader of humanity, but despite their efforts they couldn't prevent a Dwindling Party from happening; Hassen, Nikola, and all other superiors are dead, so the reason why the Commandant is in charge is simply because they're the only one left, which in turn left Lee's younger brother, Murray, to become the replacement commandant of Gray Raven. The tragedy doesn't end there: Liv died after failing to convert into the Empyrea frame at the battle against the humanoid heteromer organisms; Wanshi was the Only Survivor from Strike Hawk of the battle at the underground fortress, becoming Liv's replacement in Gray Raven; Bianca became a "witch" when she was infected by the Punishing Virus; Vera falls in battle after saving Murray; Murray had to mechanize himself to contend with the constant fighting; Ayla died when Babylonia was lost along with the Association of Arts when they tried to save Golden Age relics but lagged behind, thus failing their landing on Earth and turning everyone to ash along with the relics; hell, everyone else from the Arctic, Akdilek, Kowlong, and the Forsaken aren't doing well either. The Commandant lost their hands when only they and Murray survived Bianca's infection, not even getting any prosthetics because resources are so lacking. In short, humanity is destroyed.
  • Bad Luck Mitigation Mechanic: In general, R&D, PGR's version of gacha banners, features a "Pity" mechanic that guarantees characters/weapons/CUBs of a certain rarity if you get too many low-rarity pulls without getting any high-rarity items. For example, character banners guarantee A-Rank characters (that can be outright selected in certain ones to increase your chance at getting them to 70%) for every 10 pulls, and S-Rank Constructs at 60 pulls note . Also, the Pity counter carries over between featured banners so players who did not get the featured item within the limited period will have a better chance at getting the next one. A similar system exists for 4★, 5★, and 6★ weapons.
  • Balance Buff:
    • The "Leap" mechanic serves as means of improving the mechanics and potential of select playable character. Typically, this results in greater utility, smoother gameplay, and higher damage to keep up with the current era.
    • Starting Alisa's patch and the Frederick memory set, older Memory were retooled to be better. This change breathed more life into A ranks and older S ranks without signature memory sets, while also making budget teams better for both old and newer players without all the new S ranks.
  • Beach Episode: 2020's Grand Blue event, preceded by the Summer Pockets short story, where Gray Raven squad explore an abandoned beach side resort and amusement park. (And of course, several characters got new swimsuits to commemorate the event.)
  • Brain Uploading: The M.I.N.D. system allows a Construct's mind to be digitized to go along with their mechanical body. What happens when a mind can be freely transferred around gets explored in a few different stories, as technicians can go on a Journey to the Center of the Mind by accessing a construct's memories, and Despite being a taboo, cloning occurs when a stored consciousness is uploaded from a backup after the original person is mistakenly presumed dead.
  • Breakout Character: Vera, and by extension, Cerberus Squad. Originally introduced to add a bit of moral ambiguity as Nikola's cruel and sadistic black ops squad, Vera was slowly clarified in later stories to be a cynic responding to a hellish world with bitchiness. Aiding her growing popularity is the fact both her frames — Rozen and Garnet — are valuable additions to the Dark and Lightning teams, giving players plenty of time to enjoy her attractive design and domineering personality. Her popularity then spread to her teammates, No.21 and Noctis, who both turned out to have likeable personalities of their own, turning Cerberus Squad into a hilarious Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits beloved by fans. Thus, it's no surprise that they keep making appearances in multiple stories, or that Noctis's arrival in Sands of Wrath gives Cerberus some fanservice with the game's first team-based Limit Break that functions when they're used together.
  • Breather Episode: The intensity of chapters like Kowloong Metropolis, and Evernight Beat and The Surviving Lucem are followed by relatively lighthearted side-stories like Grand Blue, and Wandering Dream with Whale, respectively.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Per usual for gacha games, you can spend real money for more Black Cards, giving you more chances to get the characters and weapons you want in R&D or allowing you to replenish your Stamina to claim more rewards.
  • Bullet Time: Similar to Bayonetta, a correctly timed dodges causes enemies to temporarily slow to a crawl, allowing players a chance to land some free hits. Furthermore, any special attacks performed at this time will be at their highest value, as if they were fully combined. The downside being that some of the enemy attacks can still damage you while slowed down if you jump back in the melee without thinking.
  • Busman's Holiday: How Grand Blue plays out, with an overworked Commandant ordered to take time off at a waterpark in the Caribbean, which quickly gets sidelined when the Ascendants arrive with their own goals. The Commandant winds up getting his vacation extended further, due to having to recover from the near-death experience.
  • Camera Abuse: Many character intros or victory outros involve them talking to or physically interacting with the camera. This includes hitting or grabbing. This is meant to show that the characters are interacting with the Commandant, aka you.
  • Cast Herd: Most characters are affiliated with a faction or categorized into groups such as Babylonia, the Ascendants, the Punishing. Sometimes, they're put into a group within a group, such as Gray Raven, Cerberus, etc. for Babylonia.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The Punishing Virus ravaged Earth, forcing humanity to board the Babylonia and create a system of Constructs and Commandants to fight back the resulting Corrupted and retake an Earth After the End.
  • Cinderella Plot: Liv's father remarried, and her new step-family promptly began neglecting her and treating her like a servant, until her fortunes turned around. Though in this case, Liv didn't meet a prince and marry into royalty: she enlisted in the army as a medic in lieu of her step-siblings, nearly died saving soldiers on the frontline, and was transformed into a Construct lauded as a war hero, who is still fighting when the game begins.
  • Combat Stilettos: Several female characters have either full-on high heels or raised-heel boots, including direct fighters like Vera, Bianca, and Nanami. That said, as Constructs, they aren't exactly beholden to the physical limitations these would imply.
  • Crapsack World: Punishing's world isn't forgiving, to say the least. Humanity is sequestered into bickering enclaves that all have their own agendas, people are often left at the mercy of authorities that rarely have any, and just about every character has a terrible past. Despite this, their determination, camaraderie and unyielding hope that the Punishing virus can be defeated keeps them moving forward, and their battles end in worthwhile victories often enough.
  • Critical Hit: Characters have stats that increase the chance and percent-based damage of their critical hits. A handful of weapons and Memories also give their users an increase in either critical hit rate or damage.
  • Choose a Handicap: In Babel Tower, you have to pick a number of handicaps that make your enemies tougher (by increasing their defense, attack or aggressiveness) or more annoying to deal with (such as them attracting you with a blackhole or planting small time-bombs on you when they hit you). The catch is that there are several levels and that the rewards depend on your combine score on all levels (but you can?t use the same characters on two levels), meaning you can smooth out the difficulty by making each level only mildly difficult instead of making a single one super hard.
  • Christmas Episode: The "Night on Christmas" event, which follows Gray Raven preparing to throw a surprise Christmas party for Liv. Completion of the event rewarded unique Christmas-themed skins and weapons.
  • Content Warnings: Whenever the app is launched, a disclaimer from Kuro Games warns the player about scenes with Epileptic Flashing Lights that may trigger those with photosensitive epilepsy.
  • Crossover:
    • January 2021's Untold Naraka event, which was a collaboration with NieR: Automata. For a limited time, players had a chance to recruit the main characters of that game — 2B, 9S, and A2 — to use as playable characters.
    • August 2023's Blazing Simulacrum event, which is similarly a collaboration with Black★Rock Shooter. While only having one recruitable playable character in Black★Rock Shooter herself, it also contains a new coating for Alpha's Crimson Weave frame, a new chess-themed gamemode, and a unique boss battle against Dead Master.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Construct technology actually puts in a great deal of effort to avert this. Babylonia Constructs are only allowed to field humanoid frames that mimic human bodies as closely as possible, and part of a Commandant's duty is to provide psychological support to ensure their M.I.N.Ds remain stable.
  • Darkest Hour: The Surviving Lucem is among the grimmest points of the story, as humanity is pushed to near total defeat. Hetero-Creatures and the Red Tide emerge across the world, destroying almost all progress made beforehand, and cut Babylonia off from the surface, trapping multiple characters off from escape. Worse, the seemingly unstoppable Unidentified Twins destroy one conservation area after another. Many story segments follow the despair of the survivors as they try to survive the onslaught.
  • Downer Beginning: To set tone of the game and its story, it starts with an injured Lucia struggling to fight against a hoard of Corrupted, forcing her and the player Commandant to resort to drastic measures, like lowering Lucia's pain threshold, to keep the mission and themselves alive.
  • Early Game Hell: There's an early-game curve, and it's a little slow to climb to get to the real fun. To wit:
    • The story takes time to develop, involving lots of setup, but it also requires — particularly on the Hidden side — using clunky boss machines just to get through content. There is a huge difference in writing quality starting in Chapter 9. They increase the stakes and the storytelling becomes more straightforward and self-contained.
    • Characters are really expensive to invest in and take dedication to get to know. You need millions of cogs and hundreds of thousands of XP to make characters good. Cogs are a real gatekeep to level your characters early on, but once you do, you'll find yourself with an abundance of them.
  • Easter Egg: The stages added during the Untold Naraka event have two hidden in out of the way routes. One leads to a field of "Lunar Tear" flowers, which appear in both Nier games, while another has posters showing Kuro Games's previous game, Twintails Battlefield (战场双马尾).
  • Elemental Powers: Certain attacks have properties besides physical damage. There is fire, ice, and lightning, as per usual, but other elements, like Dark damage, also exist. Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is also in play as a result, with different enemies being weak or resistant to certain damage types.
  • Equipment Upgrade: Both weapons and Memories can be leveled up by consuming either spare equipment or equipment EXP material. In addition, weapons have a level cap that can be raised with "Overclock" items.
  • Fanservice:
    • To be expected of a gacha game, although not as gratuitous as its ilk. There are plenty of characters with figure-hugging or figure-bearing configurations, outfits, etc. Pretty much all playable characters are also handsome or beautiful to go in-line with that. And that's among the default cast's appearances. Coatings tend to dress men and women in more appealing eye-candy.
    • The artwork of Memories tend to be more risque than the playable characters, particularly ones of females. Lots of skimpy clothing, suggestive poses, and Male Gaze.
  • Fictional Earth: The setting of PGR occurs on an Earth that's been irreversibly affected by the Punishing. Other deviations can be explained by the plot happening in the distant future or uncovering of new phenomena.
  • Freemium Timer: The game has a stamina system which regenerates one point of "serum" every five minutes, though it can also be refilled by using earnable serum items, when the account gains a level, or by spending Black Cards.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The digitized consciousness of a construct is known as a Memory Inductive Neural Depository; in other words, the M.I.N.D.
  • The Future: The future's future, even. Punishing is set around 2080-2100, twenty years after the initial Punishing virus outbreak. It's been long enough that history has even had time to assign two post-apocalyptic periods, the Post-Pandemic Age and the Reconquista Age.
  • Future Imperfect: The mass retreat of humanity into small struggling communities or Babylonia above has resulted tons of human culture and knowledge being abandoned. The Arts Association, in fact, runs "archeological" expeditions to try and recover such knowledge. One character, Selena, is credited as the author of an adaptation of The Tempest, but she herself admits she just based it off incomplete records.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: While the player can recruit all sorts of constructs via Gacha, the game's story assumes the only cast present in each situation is Gray Raven squad itself, consisting of Lucia, Liv and Lee, along with any construct who appears as a secondary character; not whoever you're running the game's stages as. The most egregious example is likely Alpha, who you can select for normal chapters, even though she is essentially one of the story's villains, as a member of the Ascendants.
  • Genre Mashup: It's a Stylish Action RPG in the form of a gacha game with its elements thrown in. Plus, the story is a post-apocalyptic Science Fantasy/Science Fiction. And it all works in tandem to bring you Punishing Gray Raven.
  • Guide Dang It!: The Interlude stories of each character all have a unique "hidden" story node that serve as a sort of epilogue to each tale. True to their name, the game never advertises their existence, nor their unlock conditions, which are intentionally obtuse and requires massive leaps in logic or combing the playable stages. For example, the hidden segment of Lee's Palefire Interlude requires the player to notice that the story's Arc Number, "421", translates into binary as 100, 010, and 001. Then, using that clue, fight three groups of three enemies, while sparing the leftmost, center, and rightmost enemy of each respective group, in that order.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Untold Naraka, the last sequence of the story has 2B fight a seemingly overpowered Machiavelli, but like in Ending E of NieR: Automata, players can refuse to give up, and eventually receive constant resurrections at the cost of other players' data. After agreeing to do the same, Untold Naraka's story nodes will be locked away.
  • Honor Before Reason: Many characters rightfully question why exactly Babylonia is fighting so hard to reclaim Earth when they're inhabiting a massive colony ship that can easily take them to another world to start over. The main justification is that Babylonia simply doesn't want admit defeat and wants to take back Earth to prove the point that Humanity can overcome the Punishing Virus.
  • Hope Spot: At the beginning of Evernight Beat, Humanity is slowly but steadily reclaiming the Earth, with numerous cities reclaimed and conservation sites set up to house survivors. However, Vonnegut's schemes and the appearance of the Hetero-Sapiens led by the Hetero Twins almost completely demolish all of the progress Babylonia has made, serving as a grim reminder that as long as the Punishing Virus exists, Humanity will know no peace.
  • Interface Screw: Recitativo di Fantasia's final boss, Hamlet, attacks the game's combat UI in several ways — first by stealing all the command prompts and then dropping them as collectable items in the stage that the player has to run around recollecting in order to even attack or dodge, then flipping the prompts across the horizontal or vertical axis, and finally, having its attacks fake draining the player's premium currency until it goes into the negatives as a distraction.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Punishing's dorm system allows for rooms to be decorated to resemble other places. Classy pub? Sure. Chinese restaurant? Of course. Austere funeral service? Well, why not?
  • Item Farming: Characters need a weapon, sets of Memories, and their passives maxed out to really be of use. Maybe a CUB too. That's going to require lots and lots of EXP, Overlock materials, and Cogs, and that requires lots and lots of farming the appropriate stage.
  • Lag Cancel: Encouraged by the gameplay. The "grid" function is typically accessible through a well-timed dodge, which allows one button to become a three-ping and trigger all sorts of goodies like assists or special abilities. As such, characters' normal attacks can be canceled into a dodge move in case there's an attack coming their way. Mastery of gameplay involves knowing when and where to dodge while comboing.
  • Limit Break: All constructs have a meter under their health that can be filled and then expended for one particular high-powered attack. They shouldn't be considered Finishing Moves, given the durability of enemies. Fire them off as quick as you can for free and safe damage. Other constructs use the meter to activate a Super Mode, rather than a single attack.
  • Loading Screen: The loading screen features artwork and information of various factions, characters, topics, etc. They're all worth a read.
  • Manual Leader, A.I. Party: In some stages, you will play as Constructs either given to you by the game or your own while the A.I. handles an on-field ally.
  • Marked Change: Signs of Punishing Virus corruption include red or black machinery taking over one's body.
  • Mass Monster-Slaughter Sidequest: Some challenges require you to kill certain amount of enemies, and sometimes within a certain time limit.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The common enemies throughout the game by default of the setting. You will see a lot of mechanical enemies while fighting those aligned with the Punishing, and you will kill a lot of them.
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • Kowloong Metropolis has Babylonia vs Kowloon vs the Ascendants, and winds up dragging every previously seen faction into the fight, each with their own agenda.
    • Her Last Bow has Gestalt predict that in a decade the war will turn into a three-way conflict between Babylonia, the Ascendants and the Awakened Machines that Nanami has been gathering.
  • Me's a Crowd: Each construct variation is considered separate characters, meaning there's nothing preventing a player from assembling a team with two, or even three of the same character.
  • Mobile City:
    • The "Eternal Engine" Asslam consists of several building-sized carriages. It runs through Eurasia in order to power the filters that protects its population from the Punishing virus and uses its mobility to position itself as a Merchant City that can buy and sell anything from anyone.
    • Later, the story introduces the Nighter, a ship that's been turned into a massive floating city. It has similar mercantile leanings, but it's quickly overshadowed by the numerous hidden agendas being pursued by rulers of the vessel. It also is ultimately subordinate to Kowloong, a stationary city-state in the middle of the ocean.
  • Money Sink: In total, maxing out the levels of skills, equipment, and characters cost thousands and thousands of Cogs. If you're planning to maximize the potential of a single character, never mind an entire team or multiple teams, be prepared to have a hefty sum of currency.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: In War Zone, the third part of each active stage has a simple objective: kill as many enemies as you can. The farther you go, the more points you gain, which determines whether you are demoted or promoted once the weekly War Zone period ends.
  • Multiple Endings: The main gimmick of Recitativo di Fantasia. In-Universe, the virtual play of the same name supposedly just has one ending, but as the Commandant repeats the story, they find clues and take actions that unlock more endings hidden away by Selena.
  • Multiple Life Bars: Having to deplete several lifebars isn’t particularly uncommon in modern action games, but PGR pushes it to the extreme with bosses that can have up to 999 lifebars.
  • Nintendo Hard: PGR has a pretty steep learning curve compared to other gacha games. Once the player has passed the relatively easy early chapters of story mode, the game will rapidly throw a plethora of bosses and challenges that will require them to be constantly on their toes to dodge the fast, deadly attacks that will come from every direction. Especially in challenge modes like Phantom Pain Cage and War Zone.
  • Non-Combat EXP: EXP material allows you to directly level up a Construct of your choosing.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Most of the game is Sci-Fi, if not Science Fantasy. Inscription of Labyrinth, meanwhile, while retaining the same gameplay, has a tone, setting, and plot that wouldn't be out of place in a horror game like Silent Hill.
  • Off the Rails: In Recitativo di Fantasia, the virtual play is supposed to have a tragic ending, where the Champion is forced to kill the Piper to save the day. However, after uncovering enough clues, the Commandant breaks the narrative by tricking the Dragon into attacking the Piper instead, causing a paradox that opens the play's Multiple Endings.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Daily stages reward you with EXP items to help you level-up Construct. In a variant, some other daily stages reward you with materials that upgrade or power up weapon and Memories.
  • Play as a Boss: Certain hidden chapters include an opportunity to play from the perspective of bosses like Camu and Roland, though both and other boss characters eventually become Promoted to Playable.
  • Play Every Day: Punishing encourages consistent play for those aiming to spend as little as possible. The daily and weekly quests are major sources of Black Cards that can be used for Gacha, and include playing the War Zone and Phantom Pain Cage modes that give rewards based on current player rankings, giving incentive to not fall behind. Not to mention log-in bonuses that encourage players to open the game daily.
  • Player Nudge: Many of the stages tell you what you need to do to complete them and/or the particular gimmick of the stage.
  • Plot Parallel: Untold Naraka tells a story that intentionally mirrors the premise of NieR: Automata: Gray Raven discover a mysterious underground facility created by the "School of Sapiens", which is inhabited by two armies of machines fighting each other so that their interpretation of humanity will succeed. To make the reference explicit, the machines at one point cry out "Glory to Homo Sapiens!", akin to the YoRHa's motto, "Glory to Mankind".
  • Power Creep: Like any gacha RPG title, many later-introduced Constructs are superior to the ones that came before, some of which are introduced for free. For example, Alpha Crimson Weave usurped Bianca Veritas as the go-to damage dealer for Lightining teams. Now, that said, the "Leap" function is a way for Kuro Games to empower or tweak certain characters to make them useful in the modern day, but those are sparing and cost a hefty amount of currency.
  • Power Equals Rarity: 5★ and 6★ Memories and weapons are often the most coveted upgrades for Constructs, boasting higher base stats and additional effects that boost the combat power of a Construct. For that reason, they are often only obtainable through Endgame content or the R&D weapon gacha.
  • Premium Currency: The most common example is Black Tickets, which are your main currency for investing in the game's gacha mechanics. While they can be earned in-game by completing quests and daily/weekly tasks, obtaining achievements, participating in limited-time events, etc., you can also buy them with real money with various Microtransactions, and like with many gacha games, you get more that way.
  • Production Throwback: Several early memories are actually recycled designs from Kuro Games's prior work, Twintails Battlefield. The Memory Rescue missions, in fact, contains multiple references to it, but given its obscurity, will likely just go over the players' heads.
  • Quick Time Event: The "QTE" system allows your playable characters to tag in with a powerful attack after you inflict the enemy(ies) with a certain condition, such as landing the right combo or dodging attacks.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission:
    • There are permanent missions that will give you various resources when completed, such as character EXP, Cogs, and Skill Chips essential to upgrading all aspects of playable characters.
    • After completing Chapter 3-8, you will include a mode called "Interludes" that will award chapters Shards for A- and B-Rank characters. These will gradually ensure you can promote these Constructs all the way up to the SSS.
  • Season Finale: Kowloong Metropolis functions as The Climax for all the plot threads set up in the first 12 chapters, and even brings in elements from side content like Golden Vortex. It also serves as a Wham Episode as Lucia undergoes a Death of Personality, finishing her character arc.
  • Science Fantasy: Punishing Gray Raven leans more on the "science" half because of its heavy usage of androids, technology, and machinery. Having that said, many of the enhanced and magic abilities of both enemies and allies will remind one of stylish Anime or Fantasy choreography. And one often explains the other.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Early to midway through Normal Chapter 4, the Gray Ravens and Kamui are forced to take a long detour through a desert because of Roland's interference in the previous chapter. They have to contend with grating sandstorms and Constructs like Vassago the Guardian, a Sand Worm, that have adapted to the treacherous sands. There's also the fact this is when Watanabe and the Forsaken, abandoned former Ground Forces of Babylonia, are introduced.
  • Shout-Out: The Wolf Pack Boss of Wandering Dream with Whale strike the poses of the Ginyu Force, though they stand in different positions and lack one member to make the reference merely blatant, rather than incredibly.
  • Socketed Equipment: Playable constructs can equip up to six "memories". When two or four of a set are put together, they provide varying buffs, ranging from flat damage boosts of differing elements to calling down lightning strikes or providing free Bullet Time on the next three-orb combo.
  • Sprint Meter: Punishing's dodges are fueled by a regenerating meter, to prevent players from trying to avoid attacks by just spamming evasive moves over and over.
  • Starter Mon: Lucia (Lotus), Liv (Eclipse) and Nanami (Storm) are the first three characters you acquire in game, and together form the first Attacker-Support-Armor team the game encourages players to use. They also happen to be the only B-Ranked characters in the game, signifying that they're intended to only last until the player can assemble teams of A or S-ranked characters attained from the Gacha.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Some missions strongly encourage you to avoid the line of sights of enemies. Typically, some technology puts an invisibility cloak on the character you're controlling, but the enemies will detect you if you're in the path of their sensors. To be fair, most of the time, you can just let yourself be detected, clear out the enemies, and prance ahead none the worse.
  • Step Servant: Liv's father remarried, and her new step-family promptly began neglecting her and treating like a servant, until her fortunes turned around. Though in this case, Liv didn't meet a prince and marry into royalty: she enlisted in the army as a medic in lieu of her step-siblings, nearly died saving soldiers on the frontline, and was transformed into a Construct lauded as a war hero, who is still fighting when the game begins.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment: Or rather, surprisingly creepy chapter. Inscription of Labyrinth takes the player away from the sci-fi locales and puts them, alongside the Cerberus squad, in an old abandoned town that is more than likely inspired by Silent Hill, given the fog and the general atmosphere. One major enemy in this chapter is "Blair", a Creepy Doll with no eyes and obviously broken limbs that, while mostly harmless, is still unnerving to even look at; there's little to no music aside from ambiance, and the combination of No.21's instability and the Commandant's Mind Beacon being corrupted back in Fake Ascension is causing them both to experience and relive Luna's memories of the day the Punishing Virus first hit her hometown from her perspective, including saying and doing what she said and did back then against their own wills, with 21 in particular obviously not enjoying the sensation of losing control of her own voice and body. The majority of the chapter is incredibly unnerving, feeling more like it should be in a horror game rather than a sci-fi ARPG, and nothing else in the game is quite like it, making it feel that much more bizarre.
  • Tag Team: Your party is organized this way: one active character and two background characters that you can swap with mid-battle. The core conceit of battle in the game is knowing when and where to use all three characters' strengths to win, so you'll often be swapping between characters mid-combat.
  • A Taste of Power: In the days before a new chapter or event, the game likes dropping a short preview story that lets players try out the upcoming unlockables, whether it is a new character that has to be acquired via gacha, or a new set of costumes that can be worn by them.
  • Technology Porn: In the game's codex, you can observe each constructs' weapon up close. Not only that, you can cycle through the appearances of their progressive upgrades, and watch as the weapons continually gains holograms and various other hinged, delightfully noisy mechanical additions.
  • Temporary Online Content: Events and gacha banners are only available for a limited time unless they have reruns.
  • Timed Mission: Many challenges and fights require you to accomplish the task within a given time, such as killing all enemies in an area or clearing multiple waves of enemies.
  • Unobtainium: One recurring object in the game's backstory is Tantalum-193 heteropolymer. Whatever it is, a person's compatability with it determines whether one can be converted into a construct.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Every so often the game's special events toss in wrinkles into the typical hack-and-slash fare. Eternal Engine had a short chapter involving a driving sequence, while Kowloong Metropolis had rudimentary stealth sequences, including activating distracting props, stealthy walking, and Back Stabs.
  • Weird West: The story Sands of Wrath takes a turn in genre, as the Commandant winds up in the very Wild West-styled community of New Auclair, leading to a Western tale where the local wheat harvest and festival has to contend with Constructs, monsters and the sci-fi apocalypse.
  • Wham Episode
    • Lucia's Interlude story, "Metamorphosis", reveals the identity of Unknown Construct Alpha and completely changes the player's knowledge of all the characters. Alpha is the original Lucia. The Lucia with Gray Raven squad is a clone made from her backed up memories. Furthermore, Luna of the Ascendants is Lucia' sister.
    • Kowloong Metropolis ends with Lucia undergoing a Death of Personality, fundamentally changing who she is as a person going forward.
    • Fake Ascension dramatically shifts the factions around going forward: The Punishing Virus is show to be undergoing evolution into life-like forms, and Gabriel betrays his Ascendant comrades, causing the others to become rogue free actors.
    • Her Last Bow answers one ongoing mystery and gives a dire prediction: Nanami is actually the Machine Sage whose art is giving machines sentience. Furthermore, Gestalt has predicted that however the war will end in 10 years, humanity will not reclaim Earth.
    • Spiral of Chronos reveals that a higher-dimension civilization is observing how Earth is adapting to the Virus, which is also from another reality, and the Observers are now appearing ahead of the schedule predicted by the Ascendants. Whatever happens, the story's scope is now larger than before.
  • A World Half Full: Compared to other post-apocalyptic stories, Punishing: Gray Raven is actually quite optimistic on human nature, at least in proximity of the Commandant. There are many dire, dark stories, but it is off-set by humanity's very real victories, often enabled by the moral fortitude and camaraderie held by humanity. This means an aversion of the status quo. While humanity's enemies are often growing and adapting, the same can be said of humanity itself, who tenaciously regain and protect what they can.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: "Coatings" are in-game rewards that modify the clothing or appearance of a Construct you own. They are often obtainable through events, log-in bonuses, in-game currency, etc. Many Coatings go the extra mile by also changing the special effects of the wearer's attacks and even their intros and outros.

I need not fear the dark
For I am a child of light

Alternative Title(s): Punishing Grey Raven