Vice president of the world and his mother stills fights his battles for him? There’s no way he could possibly be the hero… unless he’s a politician. Citizens of Earth is a makeshift way to teach a ten year old about the political process using comedic violence and fantastically awful puns. With one of the most unique casts of characters in an RPG, and a charmingly similar atmosphere to Earthbound, Eden Industries has developed a game that’ll have players of any age enthralled and entertained.
Mr. Vice President, played by you, parallels closely to Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s a simpleton dressed in a suit who just wants the admiration of the adoring public, and will do whatever he can to get their vote. He gathers genre-original followers like a homeless man, a conspiracy theorist, a car salesman, and thirty-seven other seemingly average townsfolk, each with unique talents and abilities. The day after he wins the election he goes back to his hometown to discover some very strange activity. Using your followers as meat shields, you need to discover who’s behind all these shenanigans.
The key to Citizens of Earth is to recruit as many followers as you can and level them up through combat and missions. You gain followers by completing the tasks they request; some require you to mash a button as fast as you can, while others send you packing across the entire world map looking for an objective. What’s so charming about these followers is how unlikely of heroes they make. By making a girl in a wheelchair and a gambling addict (to name a few) your allies, Eden Industries has effectively crushed the stereotype of what makes a hero in video games.
Don’t take every last detail too seriously, or Citizens of Earth may set a poor example for the younger audiences. The transportation upgrade you get from the car salesman can be used to run over enemies in your way. This can get awkward when the streets are filled with police officers and girl scouts. It’s also a little strange for a game rated E-10 that people are telling the VP how his lifestyle is lonely and shallow, though true it may be.
Like most turn based combat games, encounters can be a little slow. You need to wait for every ally and enemy to act before you can choose your next actions. There’s no fast forward button and running away starts at an 11% chance, increasing with each round. The end of combat screen, showing what items dropped, takes way too long to close; you’ll be slamming your A button after each fight trying to continue the adventure. What makes up for the pacing is the amount of party customization. Different followers synergize incredibly well, so it’s important to have a strong composition of abilities. You’ll feel a wave of satisfaction when you find a great wombo-combo.
The art style is bubbly and inviting. Expect lots of rosy cheeks and cleft chins. Each enemy is a creative pun or a play on words. One of the first animals you fight is called a telefawn, a deer with a phone for antlers. Bosses just keep getting weirder right alongside the story. The environments are surprisingly diverse for all of it being in the same area. Each new zone has unique art, themes, and color palettes which keeps your adventure fresh. Sadly, there are no unique animations in combat. Despite the unique move sets, every character has the same animation for each of their abilities, which is a bit of a bummer.
Citizens of Earth has a solid soundtrack, with TONS of different songs for each situation. The music is nice at first, but when you’re walking about the same area listening to a loop for upwards of an hour it can get old. Just keep moving forward and finding new areas to tone down the repetition. Every last character in the game has a voice of their own, most of which have long dialogue with the player. To top it off, the quality of the voice acting is superb, especially the VP. He’s the perfect gentlemanly tool.
Every chapter makes the story that much weirder. You’ll start with mind controlling coffee, to murderous cookies, and it just gets better. Of course, there’s a boss behind each plot and a mysterious mastermind behind it all. A lot of the followers are woven into the story and play an important role within completing that chapter. Most importantly (but not really), you learn valuable life lessons and upright morals with each dialogue and scripted sequence. It’s a feel-good type of game. There’s even jokes sprinkled throughout the game that’ll make the adults laugh too.
Everything plays like a dream. Selecting targets and abilities in combat is simple and easy, especially since you can undo choices and restart encounters. While wandering the world your followers trail behind you, just like Earthbound. You can send them out to start encounters with an ambush bonus with the push of a button. It’s also a good way to skip combat, as you instant K.O enemies seemingly at random. The only problem is with the cursor movement; you can’t hold a direction down to move it faster, which can be very annoying. On the PC it isn’t bad because you can just reach for your mouse, but for consoles it’s going to be a hassle. That being said, a controller is the best option.
Childish atmosphere aside, Citizens of Earth is fun no matter who’s playing. Whether you’re in it for the nostalgia or you just like RPG’s, this is a well-rounded playthrough. Eden Industries has outdone themselves, and their partner Atlus also deserves praise for saving the project after a failed Kickstarter. You can own Citizens of Earth for $14.99 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PC.
Reviewed on PC. Review copy provided by Eden Industries.