Yes, you heard that correct, Citizens of Earth is a love letter to the wonderful Earthbound and it is clear where the influence comes from. It is at this point where I’d tell you to just go ahead and buy this if you were a fan of Earthbound, but it isn’t quite as simple as that.
Citizens of Earth isn’t a bad game, far from it in actual fact. It is possible to have a fantastic time building up your followers and progressing through the game, leveling your party up and making them stronger and stronger.
There is also a well written story arc that pokes fun at various aspects of the world of politics and does a decent job of calling out a lot of the crap within it, not only just from politicians, but also media and general public. All this without also taking itself too seriously of trying to ram home a message. It is not a satire, it is a fun story that uses its backdrop well.
This brings us to one of the biggest issues with Citizens of Earth though. As entertaining as the writing is, the characters themselves (bar yourself) lack enough personality for you to actually care about them and it ends up being a case of choosing the best party based on attributes alone.
Compare this to other games where you need to form a party, Persona 4 Golden for example, choosing the other characters to form a party for a particular run was difficult, because you grew to love and hate their many personalities, which had a bearing on who you wanted, it didn’t matter if Chie was possibly the wrong choice, you wanted her in your party.
But here, there is no extreme feeling, there is no love, no hate, there is only indifference, which is a crying shame really, because there was a lot of potential here to create a world and a set of characters to really bring it to life.
The battles that occur and occur way too often are a tad infuriating. It is not as sophisticated as a Final Fantasy, Demon Gaze or anything like that, but tries to take those formulas and simplify them in order to make the game more accessible to the casual user.
But that is where it falls down, there doesn’t seem to be any notion tactical nous and you can often beat most battles by spamming the same moves. Which then becomes monotonous after a while. You can increase and decrease the difficulty at will, by going to the school yard and changing it there, which is a nice touch, but it still doesn’t change the excitement levels.
What we can say though, is that the battle system does a great job of explaining how different things work in turn based battles and why you should be using a mix of defensive type move, buffs, attack down, etc. So it does make a good training exercise for anyone coming into the RPG format for the first time.
The battle system wouldn’t be so much of an issue, if it wasn’t for the sheer amount of enemies that litter the maps and force you into combat. That is the point of a game like this granted, but it feels in Citizens of Earth that this has been over done to the point where you want it to end, thus turning down the difficulty, not because it is hard, but because you want the battles over with quicker so you can move on.
You are given various tasks to help progress the game as well as for recruiting people, the people you recruit will help you in various ways, such as a car sales man who can help you get a car around town. Then there is a conspricy nut who can help you forge new elemental attack types and various others. This is a well thought out mechanic and makes taking on side quests worth the effort.
It is a shame that there are some real negative parts within Citizens of Earth, because despite all that, it is a game to have a good time with, one that you can play in nice short bursts and still make progression. However, despite the Earthbound influence, it never quite lives up to expectation and is one that is maybe better off waiting for a sale.