Throughout my playthrough of Citizens of Earth, I was continually enthralled by all the ideas that went into creating the title. I fell in love with the characters, dialogue, and world. The battle system, meanwhile, captivated me, as it was so perfectly orchestrated. In theory, Citizens of Earth should have been an amazing game, and to a certain extent the game accomplished everything it set out to complete. Unfortunately, however, a few technical errors, along with a few design errors, turned what could have been an amazing experience into one that did not live up to its full potential.
Players play as the Vice President of the Earth. Although the VP does not fight in battles himself, he travels around the world recruiting regular citizens that fight for him. With more than 40 characters, there is no “standard” party. A party could consist of a baker, a barista, and a pilot; or a party could include a homeless person, a gardener, and your mom. There are nearly limitless combinations.
Furthermore, since each character has their own side quest to recruit them, going about finding each and every citizen easily turns into a “gotta catch ‘em all” obsession. After seeing the weightlifter, for example, a player may traverse across the world to complete his quest for recruitment. There is so much content in Citizens of Earth that players will constantly find different tasks to complete and different characters to interact with.
Each and every one of these characters truly captures all the love that the development team put into the title. The dialogue of each character is not only humorous and expertly written, but it encapsulates the features and personality of a character. The voice acting that accompanies the writing is equally excellent. Even something as “insignificant” as the way a character walks fits their personality, and betters the atmosphere as a result.
The character diversity transcends into the combat system as well. Each character has its own unique and amusing moveset. Mom has moves like “lecture,” “spanking,” and “kiss boo-boo,” whereas the baker has moves like “donut,” “double-boil,” and “mixer.” This battle design encourages experimental gameplay, but only to an extent. At any point in time, swapping out citizens players have recruited is as simple as a click of a button.
Unfortunately, as citizens do not level-up if they are not in direct combat, changing up a party in the end-game is not feasible. My characters may all be level 40+, but it is not realistic for me to grab a newly-recruited citizen into my party as they are too low a level. The game does provide a system for auto-leveling, but it costs in-game currency. This can be convenient if players only need to auto-level one or two characters, but players will not have enough money to auto-level several characters at once. Therefore, a complete strategy-change in the end-game is not realistic.
These unique abilities also work in the overworld, and characters’ skills level up the more they are used. The homeless man, for example, can dumpster dive for items. The baker, on the other hand, can provide baked goods to restore HP to the character. The pilot can be utilized for quick-travel. This mechanic ensures that each and every character recruited is beneficial, even if you choose not to include them in your party.
Unfortunately, there are some glaring issues with the overworld itself which put a damper on the whole experience. First and foremost, the game does not do a good job of indicating where the player has to go next. There is an objective arrow that shows where the player has to go , but it is limited in the fact that it rarely shows the fastest way of reaching the destination. Instead, the game indicates every possible way to reach the goal, which is sometimes unrealistic. In fact, most of the time the game would just tell me to reach the current objective by sailing over a water body, which was quite challenging to do without a boat.
This directional system is very flawed when there is such a massive overworld to navigate. It was also common for the game to not make it very clear about what was and was not traversable. For a majority of the game, water travel was not possible. Yet, there was an instance in the end of the game where I got stuck due to the fact that this water body was shallow enough to walk across if accessed from a very specific spot, yet the game never informed me that this was even possible. As a result, I was left wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out how to get to my destination.
Since the game does not use random battles, it uses enemies placed on the overworld. These enemies are incredibly aggressive, though. No, they are not overly challenging to battle, but it is very hard to avoid the enemies if you are just trying to get across the overworld. These enemies will chase players to the ends of the Earth trying to put up a fight. This incessant battling gets quite annoying after a while, especially for those completionists re-visiting older areas to complete side objectives. In fact, due to the nature of the enemy AI, whenever I got to a boss I was usually grossly over-leveled because I decided to check out an extra corridor, yet all the previously-defeated enemies came back to life when I returned to the main path. Sure, I could easily raise the difficulty level to my liking, but the excessive battling just ended up becoming repetitive and boring.
The game has technical issues as well. At the forefront of the game are the never-fading loading screens. Whenever a player enters a house or a new area there is a loading screen. This does not sound too bad, but if you consider that every 2-4 minutes there is a 10-15 second loading screen, it can turn into quite the nuisance. Also, the game really likes to crash. No, these are not just minor bugs. I had to re-boot the game at least 5-7 times during my playthrough, including once at the final boss, because the game just froze up. Fortunately, there is a really handy auto-save system, so I never lost more than a few minutes of gameplay, but the need to reboot the game is annoying in itself.
Overall, the idea of Citizens of Earth is wonderful. The game is hilarious, huge, and chalk-full of personality. It is quite the shame that there are a few design and technical issues that limit the title from realizing its true greatness. Although anybody who picks up this 15+ hour adventure will enjoy themselves, I am personally much more interested to see what the future of the Citizens of Earth series will bring, as this first game is laying the foundation for something truly amazing in the future.