Recently elected to office as the Vice President of the world, you’ve got a lot of work to do in the opening days of your first term, namely saving the planet from a number of oddball villains and nefarious schemes. Thankfully, Citizens of Earth offers all the help you could need in the form of average folks who put their array of talents to good use in activities like, um, pummeling a bear made out of honey or overthrowing a group of deranged girl scouts.
If you couldn’t tell from the game’s premise, Citizens of Earth is a lighthearted comedy that crams cultural references and in jokes into every square inch of its large and colorful world. A top-down RPG with a heavy focus on gathering allies, CoE owes a lot of its inspiration to games like Earthbound or Secret of Mana, but it manages to go above and beyond the realm of simple parody by adding some interesting new tricks and twists to the familiar formula.
The world of Citizens of Earth is packed with NPCs, 40 of whom you can actually recruit to join your party. Similar to Pokemon, each of these characters offers their own array of abilities that become more diverse as they gain experience and level up.
From a gardener to a police officer, your own family members, a teacher, a psychologist…the list goes on and, more importantly, each character offers their own strengths and special talents. This allows you to mix and match your team members to create a party that’s best suited to any one of the game’s many regions, as well as take advantage of their unique skills that let you order special deliveries, learn more about your enemies, fly around the map and even investigate your own dreams.
The world of Citizens of Earth is equally varied, ranging from deserts to beaches to cityscapes, all the way up to the top of a mountain or all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. You even have a chance to visit cyber space in a way that’s reminiscent of Tron or some of those clever missions for Saints Row: The Third.
That’s one of the biggest strengths Citizens of Earth has working in its favor: You never know where you’re going to go or who you’re going to talk to next. While there’s plenty to explore and loads of on-screen enemies to tackle throughout the game, you’ll spend just as much time admiring the bright and vivid environments, chatting up the oddball cast of characters or perusing bookshelves for pun-tastic discoveries.
Citizens of Earth goes the extra mile to reward that exploration, too, plugging in experience bonuses for simply investigating the world, adding stat boosts depending on who you have on your party, and even giving you the chance to specialize your crew further with stat adjustments and items you’ll find peppered throughout the game.
When you’re not taking on one of the game’s utterly insane main missions, you’ll find plenty of ways to distract yourself courtesy of side quests and citizen abilities that task you with hunting down certain enemies or clearing out particular regions of riff-raff.
Another fun feature of those all-important citizens is the act of actually recruiting them to your team. Some are as simple as meeting them in specific regions while others will require you to collect certain items, take part in various activities or perhaps face them in battle.
Along the way, you’re going to be taking part in lots and lots of old-school RPG combat. When you’re just starting out and only have a few party members, or when a particular area is more packed with enemies than usual, the grind can get a bit repetitive. Thankfully, Citizens of Earth once again tries to put some fresh spins on the classic combat, including a battle system that requires you to balance moves that gain power and moves that use it up, as well as abilities that turn those encounters into something of a quick math problem in fisticuffs.
Thankfully, enemies are visible on the map and are usually avoidable if you just want to get from Point A to Point B with a quickness. You can also “charge” your foes on the map to start battle with a bonus or, if you hit them from behind, possibly beat them and collect the rewards right out.
While Citizens of Earth positively drips with nostalgia, the team at Eden Industries was wise enough to not simply bank on clever jokes and loads of references to carry the game. It’s a well-crafted engine with lots of bits and baubles to explore and, more importantly, that exploration is a heck of a lot of fun.
Platforms:PC, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Vita