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Punishing: Gray Raven Review

Punishing: Gray Raven Review

The global release of Punishing: Gray Raven has easily been one of the most anticipated mobile game launches of the year. First released in China back in 2019, developer and publisher Kuro Game have finally brought a localised version to the global audience. Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by killer cybernetic enemies, players take on the role of the Commandant to an elite squad of Constructs - this game's term for characters - to fight back and try to retake Earth. Promising over the top, real-time action, Punishing: Gray Raven has a lot of hype to live up to and after spending a few weeks with it I’m happy to say that it very well delivers.

First and foremost Punishing: Gray Raven is a gacha game, meaning you can expect several in-game currencies, gacha systems for obtaining Constructs and equipment, and optional purchases available as well. While this might sound off-putting, it is worth noting that compared to other titles, Punishing: Gray Raven is quite free-to-play friendly. Players will find that nearly all content in the game can be completed without spending a penny and while some grinding may be needed, the game is quite generous in how many in-game currencies it gives you.

On top of that, Constructs vary so that each and everyone of them feels unique and worthwhile. This means that even with the starting Constructs you can easily build a team capable of overcoming any challenge. There will always be ‘better’ Constructs and equipment, but there is next to no pressure to obtain these. If anything, Punishing: Gray Raven almost puts the gacha as a secondary focus and rather pushes players to complete daily and story missions over anything else. Throughout my time with the title I never once felt the need to pay real money nor did I feel like I was missing out on anything.

Screenshot 2021.10.03

The gameplay in Punishing: Gray Raven is just what you would expect from an action role-playing game, albeit one that has been tailor-made for mobile devices. Players take a team of up to three Constructs into a mission and control one at any given point in real-time, hack and slash combat. The standard movement is just what you would expect with the option to run, dash, and perform basic attacks all of which are visually pleasing. Where things get interesting is how the skills for each Construct work.

As you battle, you will start to build a stack of different coloured orbs which can be ‘pinged’ to consume said orb and perform the skill of matching colour. If you chain together up to three of the same colour then you can execute a more powerful version of that skill for massive damage. This system might sound a bit awkward at first, more so as it’s basically a match-three mini-game, but it flows surprisingly well into combat and is perfect for touch screens.

On top of this, you can also use a well timed dodge to enter bullet time where any single orb can be pinged for the effect of three, making for a devastating counter. Players can also swap between their team members at will which allows you to take advantage of the different classes to maximise damage. Finally, when performing a three ping you have the chance to summon one of your team members for a support skill that can make or break some of the more challenging fights.

Screenshot 2021.10.03

While it does take a while to adjust to this combat system, especially on a touch screen, it ends up being an incredibly engaging system that allows for fluid and compelling gameplay. There is a degree of skill involved which can make you feel a great sense of accomplishment when overcoming tough challenges, but it’s never so demanding that you feel discouraged. The game also encourages you to experiment with different combos, team loadouts, and much to find your preferred rules of engagement.

Punishing: Gray Raven also does a good job at finding a balance between being a mobile game in its design but managing to deliver on AAA quality gameplay. For example, while nearly all missions are quite short in length they are focused meaning there is little downtime. Even those that are not combat-focused keep things short but always get straight to the point regarding narrative. The game is designed so that you can easily progress and earn rewards even if you only have a short amount of time to do so.

Of course, being an action role-playing game Punishing: Gray Raven makes sure that each and every combat encounter is a visual spectacle. Animations are fluid and exaggerated, effects are bright and outlandish, and audio is always on point to really complete the experience. At times you almost forget that you are actually controlling the action as combat unfolds before you like a well choreographed anime fight scene. Both standard and boss encounters are visually stunning and the latter really pushes the boat out with impressive set pieces.

Screenshot 2021.10.03

This is made all the more impressive by the fact that it is running on a mobile device at a steady frame rate throughout all the action. There is an odd hitch in the loading times now and again but in motion, the game runs smoothly with options available to adjust the graphics if required. That said, the developers actually support emulation meaning you can comfortably play Punishing: Gray Raven on PC with full keyboard and mouse support with the game also having native controller support too. While the ping system is a bit tricky to adjust to without a touch screen, it’s totally possible but does take a bit of setup.

For the most part Punishing: Gray Raven stands tall with plenty of reasons to enjoy it. One area that might be a negative for some, and is something that the vocal part of the community regularly talks about, is the lackluster end game content. To keep it short, once you complete the story missions there isn’t really much reason to play outside of farming for items while you wait for the next update. Personally, this isn’t a problem but it’s understandable why some people would find it so.

The developers have already said they plan to update the global version of the game with pretty much the same roadmap as other versions, with a few changes as possible. At the time of writing, Punishing: Gray Raven has had two major events which brought new Constructs, equipment, challenges, modes, and more to the game. While these were welcome additions and quite fun it didn’t take long to complete everything on offer and earn all the rewards. Rather than look at this as a negative think of it more as a reminder to not feel compelled to rush through content and instead, take your time to enjoy the story.

com.kurogame.gplay.punishing.g Screenshot 2021.07.14 00.39.21

At the end of the day, Punishing: Gray Raven is a simply stunning mobile game that offers impressive visuals and extremely satisfying gameplay. With a great cast of characters, rewarding combat, engaging story, and a fairly relaxed gacha system, Punishing: Gray Raven is definitely one action role-playing game that people should check out, be it on mobile or on PC via emulation. Just take note that rushing content will result in a drought and the lack of real end game content might be off-putting for some. With a two plus year roadmap of content lined up, Punishing: Gray Raven is only going to get better from here on out.

8.00/10 8

Punishing: Gray Raven (Reviewed on Android)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Punishing: Gray Raven is easily one of the best action role-playing games currently available on mobile with plenty of content on the horizon.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Judgemental Waifu

Judgemental Waifu

Staff Writer

Married a light cruiser. No, really

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Robert Charles
Robert Charles - 08:30am, 6th October 2021

Gray Raven boasts some truly fun combat, with a slew of customization options available to further refine the experience to meet. Following a rocky launch, this game offers intense action gameplay, deep customization, great characters, and highly detailed designs wrapped.