Don’t let the cartoon art style fool you. Citizens of Earth is as deep as it is witty and intelligent. Our review;
Citizens of Earth is the story of the flawed, cock-sure, condescending, obtuse and newly appointed Vice-President of Earth – not your average video game hero, that’s for sure. We begin the game with the new “Veep” having a less-than-well-deserved rest in his home town on the morning after he narrowly won the election. Congratulated by his adoring Mum and overtly-normal brother, the VP and his family set out to grab a cup of coffee from Moonbucks – only to discover that everything is not as it seems. From here, events spiral from the ridiculous to the insane as the VP recruits anyone that will follow him around the land in order to foil a nefarious plot and save the world.
Following a traditional top-down RPG formula like that used in Pokemon and Earthbound, Citizens of Earth lays an open world at your feet and lets you bumble the incompetent VP down the streets of small towns, through forests, around a hedge maze, under the sea, through fields and even around the games version of the White House. There are very few restrictions on your movement and those that do exist are tied to your team of followers. This team of followers grows as you complete quests, satisfying their needs so that they are free to join your plight.
The characterised cast of Citizens of Earth are the real stars of the game. Playing as a deeply flawed VP is one thing, but to have a world full of caricatured stereotypes, each with their own unique conversation points and quests, is another. From the plumber who looks like an older, grumpier version of Mario to the burly Russian lifeguard, the overweight baker to the overly-caffeinated Barista, Citizens of Earth has more than 50 bizzare characters to recruit into your team. Each character has a unique talent that they add to your repertoire once they have joined you. For example, the gardener can chop down bushes which bar your path and the used car salesman allows you to drive around in his car. The talents of these citizens also extends as far as the combat in Citizens of Earth.
The combat of Citizens of Earth shares much with the likes of Pokemon. When you bump into an enemy in the world, combat is triggered and a squad of 3 of your followers spring into a turn based (although there is no indication of whose turn it is next) battle – the VP, of course, never gets his own hands dirty. Each of the VP’s disciples has their own set of attacks, buffs and special abilities that they can employ in a fight and often have an element attached to them. For example, the VP’s mum is a master of nagging – a verbal attack – and the body builder has many attacks that utilise his muscles. As a lot of the enemies in Citizens of Earth have strengths and weaknesses related to these elements, it is important to pick your team and your attacks wisely. Using an electricity attack on a rock-type enemy will do little damage opposed to a water attack. Thankfully, the VP is always on hand at the side of the screen to give you the low down on what is effective and what isn’t.
Being an RPG at heart, Citizens of Earth has a plethora of stats and customisation options to delve into – much more than the games appearance suggests. As a member of your flock partakes in more battles, their experience grows and as their experience grows, so do their levels and stats. A unique aspect of the leveling in Citizens of Earth is the bonus stats that are awarded depending on what other of your followers are fighting at the time. For example, levelling up at the end of a fight while the VP’s brother is on the field of battle will grant additional HP. There are also items hidden around the game world which can be equipped to effect a characters stats. Want to increase the difficulty to get more experience? Change the time of day? Even change the zoom of the camera? All of these customisation options are buried a little beneath Citizens of Earth’s light-hearted exterior.
While the art style, the game play and the general premise all blend to create a more than proficient RPG, it is the humour that really pulls Citizens of Earth together and makes it shine. The game is literally packed with wit, gags, pop culture references, innuendoes and laugh out loud moments. Right from the out set, when you attempt to pick up your own dirty socks from your bedroom floor and the VP remarks “uh-uh, That’s Mums job” to the almost constant ridicule of politicians, the game is genuinely funny. Citizens of Earth doesn’t take itself too seriously, with almost every conversation you have in the game laden with wit and intelligence and is all the better for it.
As Citizens of Earth is remarkably open and has very few restrictions which bar your path, it suffers a side effect with difficulty balancing. On my initial play through, I raced through the first chapter and was directed towards the second but instead of proceeding as instructed, decided to go on a wander around the world instead. On my travels, I recruited many more companions to TEAM VP and because I was doing a lot of farming for experience, they were leveled reasonably highly. So, when I returned to continue the main story missions, I was drastically over powered. As gratifying as it was to dispatch the boss battles with only a hand full of attacks, these clashes felt like an anti-climax and I had to crank up the difficulty level in order for the game to feel like a challenge again.
It would be easy to dismiss Citizens of Earth because of its cartoon-like graphics but it is a game worth voting for. This RPG almost entirely regards the destination to which it is headed and focuses on the journey, filling it with dry, light-hearted humour and accessible but deceptively deep mechanics. Put Citizens of Earth on a ballot right now and I will vote it in for another term of vice presidency.
Developer: Eden Industries
Citizens of Earth is available now for PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), PSVita, PC, Wii U and 3DS.
Full Disclosure: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of Citizens of Earth from the PSN.
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