Citizens of Earth
Wii U, Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation Vita, PC, Nintendo 3DS
January 20, 2015
‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived.’
Blending the charm of a real life politician of a powerful country, his league of extraordinary and benevolent citizens, his flawed self reassurance and the joy of a classic JRPG model, comes Citizens of Earth, a personal favourite of mine from this year. Canadian developers Eden Industries and Atlus, the makers of Persona series and Megami Tensei, bring this wonderful tale of a person of power rising to more power through quests that are not only funny but entertaining like nothing before it. And the cast surrounding the protagonist is what makes Citizens of Earth even more special.
You wake up in the shoes of the most powerful person in the world, the unmissable, unbreakable, Vice President of the World, who thinks his regime has sparked off much glee amongst his citizens. Undeniably shorter than the Vice President’s vision is the actual reality, as you make way to meet some of the ruffled characters of the state, led by your opposition leader. Before stepping out, you as the Vice President meet two of the vital characters of the story, one is an Assault class and the other is a Medic class, in a different game/universe maybe. In this game, they are as hearty and close to be called Mother and little Brother. Your brother also educates you about a smart device he gave you as a gift for rising to power, which is nothing but a laptop to your great and prosperous vision. Your mother’s unprecedented and overflowing love tells you a thing or two about how the game is going to shape up in the near future. A Vice President of the World, backed by the greatest love ever, the family love, steps out into the world, only to find it completely opposite of what he otherwise expects it to be.
No other game lives up to its name as Citizens of Earth, as these NPCs become one of the most brilliant motivation for the plot and sub plots to come. The citizens range from the mirror breaking gym instructor, the crazy and loving cat, umm kitty person, the Conspiracy guy and of course the Photojournalist girl who looks just like a photojournalist according to the hero of our story. There are also NPCs that change the settings of the game, like the Weather Forecast woman who changes the weather and the School Cheer Mascot who changes the difficulty of the game. The game, that is based on a classic JRPG model, breaks the fourth wall over and over again, and ties every bit of activity and exploration through these random and cheerful characters, as each lends their part to help out the man of the hour – you. Above all, these characters never feel like NPCs from a game, they are people you would bump into, on a daily basis, especially the Conspiracy Guy.
Citizens of Earth is 33.33% exploration, 33.33% interaction and 33.33% combat, in the broader sense. You go visit a place of interest in the world, talk to one of the characters, unlock their quest, visit the quest location, complete the quest and earn the character in your inventory, like you are RECRUITing the person for your glorious task. Like a classic RPG, missions are level capped, meaning you will have to attain a certain EXP level for your primary characters before you turn in for a specific quest. As you become better in the game, you gain access to newer areas and higher quests. The quests are arranged anywhere on the map, and the game denies ushering you to the spot using any marker or kind. Given the amount of quests that you can unlock at one time in the game, Citizens of Earth want you to revisit dialogues, backtrack a lot, and then discover quest locations either by fluke or by brains. The map is short enough to be traversed without fret, so it does not hurt much if you backtrack or miss a secret door on the way. The jogging animation and the fact that citizens follow the Vice President wherever he goes make it fun to keep on walking.
The combat in Citizens of Earth is based loosely on the hit JRPG formula; remember the good ol’ Pokémon days? – Turn based team vs team fight. When you enter a new area, chances are that you will get pounced upon by some of the most random and notorious creatures guarding that area, be the Telefaun (a deer with horns of a dial up telephone) or the evil Decaffeinator that strikes you with hot blended coffee. As you recruit more citizens to your team, you get to choose whom to take along when discovering a new area, as each new citizen masters a certain special ability. During combat, you get to perform a list of moves that either damages the enemy or strengthens your team. These moves are not just named but conceived out of day to day insights. For example, the Mother can hug her younger son and replenish some of his lost health, the baker can quickly toss a baked bread to refill an ally’s health and so forth. When you are winning the fight by a margin, it is recommended that you land your scolding and punches on the enemies to deplete their strength.
Each move is assigned to a certain stamina depletion from your counter, that gets refilled after the move. If the enemy ambushes you before you can strike it, it takes off a little of that stamina and puts them at a battle advantage right from the strike. When you finish off a collection of enemies, you unlock more EXP for your characters, depending on how they performed, that includes their overall offense and defense, as well as boosting their stamina and health. There are quizzes, platformer puzzles and other skill challenges aplenty in Citizens of Earth, but combat is something that you will do repeatedly as a part of the core narrative.
The Sound and Animation
Citizens of Earth is humorous on all fronts, even when it tries to put you in a stalemate condition with a major enemy. Thanks to the soundtrack, you will love every bit of interaction and confrontation while playing. I loved the menu track, it refreshes me and reassures me that this game, unlike most booted on my PS4, isn’t out to outwardly kill me. Citizens of Earth has a soothing and charming overall soundtrack that complements its overall style.
The animation, unlike most of its competition, is never too pushy. In fact, it is so minimalistic that makes it so beautiful. The Vice President has a habit of dry humping each time he is winning a brawl, and it is the characters’ body language that precedes their name title or designation. It is very GIF-y and fun. The world is thick and radiating with all the bright colours, and leaves the simplistic campaign loving gamer in awe of the art style.
What puts Citizens of Earth higher up the ladder is its puns and humour. Like a solid tragic-comedy, Citizens control the domain of dark humour like a leaf off a Woody Allen movie. The Mother has a habit to ‘Uhuh’ when asked to heal the teammates, while the younger brother goes ‘Why meeee?!’ every time he gets the beating. There are contemporary slangs and a mix of internet lingo mixing in with the narrative and adding to the comic side of Citizens of Earth. The Vice President, whom I named Frank Underwood (House of Cards reference yo!), has the habit of praising the times by exclaiming “Capitalism at its finest” every time he discovers a freebie inside the game, be it a coffee bean or a hundred dollar note. You will frequently find him patting his own back for assembling a team that wins against matched foes.
From a kickstarter program that went amiss, to the fantastic game that it is today, Eden Industries has outdone whatever it set out to do with Citizens of Earth. It is a game with fun, solid humour, original script and simplistic JRPG gameplay. Not all Vice Presidents in the world need to be a ballsy Saint, the allies and in-game features in Citizens make the world and the story all the more believable. Go discover power.
+One of VG's finest NPCs
+Rich and vibrant game world
-Too much back tracking