Citzens of the world, rejoice! Your Vice President is here to save the day, with a little help from civilians like you. Control the VP of Earth and save the world in the latest RPG from Atlus and Eden Industries: Citizens of Earth.
Citizens of Earth opens, much like most RPGs of the SNES era, with the main character waking up in his bed by his mother. Only this time the main character is the newly-elected Vice President of Earth on vacation after a few grueling months of campaigning on the road. His first task is to find a present his younger brother left him in the kitchen, and then find out why there are already a bunch of protestors outside his mother’s house. Everything about this game screams a throw-back to old-school RPGs, but that is a good thing. The developers have even taken some of these gameplay elements and streamlined them a bit, such as easily being able to switch between party members on the fly. Combine all of this with beautiful art designs, a fun and engaging battle system, and quirky humor and one has a really fun turn-based RPG.
The battle system and cast of characters are by far the best parts of Citizens of Earth, taking elements from both Earthbound and Pokemon. As the VP of Earth, the player can recruit his citizens to fight for him in battles, because, being such an important figure, he obviously cannot fight the battles himself. Some characters, such as the VP’s Mom or Brother, will join automatically, but most require the VP to perform some sort of task to join the party. Such as beating a Car Salesman in a race, which involves the VP’s car to battle against the other racers, or the Conspiracy Guy, who requires the VP to find “evidence” in the form of battling sentient coffee beans. Each of these characters adds a special ability to the party, such as the previously mentioned Car Salesman’s ability to drive the party around in a sports car or the VP’s Brother being able to order items from the fake delivery company he works for, known as “FedUPS.” These characters make up most of what would normally be the game’s NPCs standing around various parts of the towns. This adds an actual sense of connection to the areas the player explores, rather than the areas being just places to find the next item or weapon store. The characters will even move locations depending on the time of day or how far the player has progressed in the game. The player can meet a character in one chapter only to have them be recruited a few chapters later. Not only do these characters assist in the overworlds, but they also help in the battles.
Each of these characters fights for the VP against quirky enemies like the fawn with a telephone on its antlers named “Telefawn” and a beach-dwelling bird whose neck is shaped like an anchor known as “Anchroy Bird.” Each of the party characters uses a unique set of moves that is based off that specific character. The VP’s Brother has attacks based off the rough-housing that siblings usually do, like “Wrestle” and “Charley Horse.” The Baker can not only use his furnace to “Torch” and “Flambe” the opponents, but he can also bake health items for himself and the other characters. The game also forgoes the RPG standard of having a Mana or MP bar for special attacks, but it uses an “Energy” system. Each normal attack will not only hurt the enemy’s health, and may cause a status effect like blinding the enemy or causing confusion, but it will also gain the character an Energy Point. These points are used by the stronger attacks, with the strongest of these attacks using the most Energy Points. The points also carry over from battle to battle, allowing the player to plan his or her battles and prepare for a stronger fight by defeating the weaker opponents with normal attacks. This also helps pull the player into the battles more, by forcing them to actually pay attention to what attacks are being used and not just spamming the “Fight” option over and over again until the battle is over. Defeating an enemy gains each character who participated experience points, like most RPGs. However, this experience is not just gained as one big lump at the end of the fight, but it is gained after each enemy is defeated. This allows the characters the ability to level up mid-fight and have new moves to use on the remaining enemies. Unfortunately, with all this good, there is also some bad with this game.
While a majority of Citizens of Earth is incredibly well done, there are a few gameplay elements that could have been streamlined a bit more. The game has a quest tracker function, in the form of a tablet, but some of the quest descriptions are a bit vague as to what the player needs to do next. This is not an issue when the player has the main objective and a couple sidequests being tracked, but it gets confusing when the player starts adding all the characters he or she needs to recruit. Most of the descriptions about what the player needs to do to recruit these characters only gives a vague description, requiring the player to find the character in the game’s world for more information. This can be difficult to remember, as there are 40 characters the player can recruit in the game. While the game usually does a good job directing the player to the next main objective point, after the beginning prologue of the game there is nothing stopping the player from wandering into an area that he or she is not prepared for. This could cause the player to wander into what he or she thinks will just be a normal fight, only to have the party obliterated in the first round. However, both of these are very minor compared to how much fun the player will have with this game.
Citizens of Earth is a near-perfect blend of both new and old school turn-based RPGs. The art style is simple, yet detailed and fun, the battle system is engaging and fun, and the characters are all unique and fun. While most of the game’s mechanics have been streamlined there are a couple elements that could have been streamlined a bit more. However, as mentioned previously, the rest of the game is so good that these are easily forgiven. The game even has a character who will turn up or down the difficulty, how far that can be adjusted depends on that character’s level, if the player finds the game too easy or difficult. For anyone looking for a new RPG to play, this is a perfect choice.
Full disclosure: The reviewer was provided with a free Steam version of this game for review purposes.