Citizens Of Earth Review
I grew up on the Japanese RPGs of the past. Games like Final Fantasy and Earthbound helped shaped my earlier years as I was engaged in these flights of fantasy. Citizens Of Earth takes me back to those days and feels like a love letter to Earthbound and old school turn-based RPGs. It’s full of charm, light-hearted humor, and the turn-based combat of yesteryear. That’s what kept me sucked in for hours upon hours as I played through this surprisingly robust game.
One of the first things you'll notice about Citizens Of Earth is the fantastic character design. It feels like a classic 2D RPG but modernized with its unique style. Each character looks great on its own and even better in motion. The enemies all feel unique and the world feels very interesting as well as lived in. The artists did a great job setting the tone for this humorous romp. You'll spend a lot of time exploring this world and each area looks and feels very different.
You begin Citizens Of Earth in bed after you’ve just been elected Vice President Of Earth. This is your main protagonist and he fits the stereotypical politician to a tee, always trying to gain a vote. You’re even given the option to name your characters and I had a lot of fun doing that based on what their role was. Good examples are Soda Popinski the soda vendor or Carlene Winslo the female cop. Doing this didn’t seem out of place as the game is filled with good natured comedy. The adventure begins at your mom’s house where you quickly recruit her and your brother as bodyguards before you go out into the world. The V.P. doesn’t actually participate in combat, but enlists the aforementioned Citizens Of Earth as his combatants. Your first enemy? Those pesky protesters, who aren’t happy about the election results.
Combat in Citizens Of Earth follows a familiar formula as you strategically choose commands from a list. You have attacks that cause damage or attacks that give status effects like blindness and confusion. There are also maneuvers that benefit the team, such as health and stat boosts. This is familiar for those that have played traditional Japanese-style RPGs before. Each citizen that you recruit is very unique in combat. For example, your mom will use verbal abuse against your enemies to take down their defenses while the School Mascot can boost your morale to give you extra experience points in battle. It provides a pretty robust line-up with 40 different party members to recruit, but that’s if you don’t get tired of it too quickly.
You see every battle coming as you journey from town to town and you can even gain a tactical advantage or disadvantage if you catch the enemy when they aren’t looking. It’s a simple mechanic but can help speed up the flow of battle. The overall problem is that you just get tired of doing battle after a few hours. It gets to the point where all battles feel the same. You get so used to your characters that you know exactly what commands you’re going to give them, which makes battles faster but none of them ever become more interesting. It doesn’t change the formula enough. However, Citizens Of Earth sucks you in as you become addicted to seeing what happens next.
This world is just interesting. From the moment you step out of your mom’s house, every place you go to gets more ridiculous as you go along. You start by taking on protesters, to flying Moonbucks shops (their version of Starbucks), and even to possessed hippies. The story is good at giving you a little bit at a time to keep your interest in the main story while keeping side content coming with citizen recruitment missions. Recruiting can be as easy as giving the Homeless Guy some money to join your team to battling an entire police station to have the Chief join your ranks. It keeps you invested in seeing what special “talent” each of these characters have. For example, your brother can have stuff shipped to the party since he works at FedUPS (yep, that kind of humor) or the Car Salesman can provide you with a car to make travelling faster. You can also open up new areas of the map by recruiting people, making it worth your time to back track to previous areas.
There is a lot of stuff to do in Citizens Of Earth, but the main thing that will keep you going is the way they tell the story. They provide you with just enough to keep you intrigued as you move on to the next area of the game trying to unravel why people and animals have become more hostile. Is there a takeover afoot? Is there something in the water? It’s something that doesn’t reveal itself early on, but builds to it. It makes it worth powering through the combat just to see how much more ridiculous this world gets. It’s just a lot of fun to see where things go (and how ridiculous the enemies get.) It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s enough to keep you engaged. The world is just fun to be a part of. The only downside to the big world is that the map system can sometimes lead to confusion on where to go next or what you have to do. It's basically a big map with different colored dots. This may leave you a little lost at times and I had a few "a-ha!" moments when I would figure some things out, but I would have liked a better way to navigate.
At the end of the day, Citizens of Earth is exactly the game you want it to be. It’s full of the fun, light-hearted humor that I was looking for in a game like this. It goes back to the turn-based days of old with its combat. I found myself just not caring about the combat, but others will be perfectly at home with the game and want to play something that harkens back to the heyday of Japanese RPGs. There is just a ton of content to keep you engaged for weeks and gives the game a ton of value. It’s very well worth the $14.99 price tag (possibly less if you grab it on sale.)
Citizens Of Earth was reviewed on both PC and PlayStation 4 with codes provided by the publisher, Atlus. The game is also available on PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.