Atlus has teamed up with indie developer Eden Industries to deliver a truly old-school RPG experience, inspired by the SNES classic EarthBound. While wrapped in a political shell, you don't have to appreciate or care about the political system to enjoy the game. From the charming visuals, the wide array of colorful characters to recruit, and solid combat,
Citizens of Earth provides a retro experience not seen for quite some time.
As the newly elected Vice President of Earth you awake in your hometown, but a political rival is holding town hostage with violent protests. Although the VP has a cheerful smile, not everyone was thrilled about the election. Throughout your journey you'll discover why many of the citizens have gone completely crazy, and recruit the remaining "sane" citizens to your cause. Of course being the vice president you'll keep your hands clean, allowing others to handle all of the combat situations. With 40 different citizens to recruit, you'll be managing the three available party slots frequently.
The amount of characters you are able to recruit is impressive, but the unique nature of each is where the game shines. With your mom and brother joining you from the onset of the game, the characters you encounter become more varied as the game progresses. In order to earn the trust of the citizens, you'll first have to complete tasks. These missions add a welcome change of pace to the constant grind, having you complete fetch quests and the occasional mini-game.
Extending their role outside of combat, characters will have unique abilities while traveling across the map. These abilities will help alleviate the amount of time you'll be spending walking, as well as open up previous unreachable locations. In order to take advantage, the character must be in one of the three party slots. The car salesman is the only character capable of using a car to travel, while your brother can place orders for necessary items. Come across a thorny bush that is blocking your path, and maybe you'll need assistance from the gardener. There are even citizens that can adjust the weather, adjust the difficulty, and even control the zoom of the camera.
Entering combat, the first thing you'll notice is every attack either produces or depletes energy for that respectful character. New skills are learned after leveling, and each character will play differently from each other. Experience is gained after enemies are defeated instead of waiting till the end of the battle. Managing energy effentially becomes a must, especially during boss battles or if you increase the difficulty of the game. I prefer to attack all enemies at once, so I relied on the police officer's area of effect attacks and the damage over time skills of the Exterminator.
After completing the first couple chapters, you'll gain access to the majority of areas on the map, however go the wrong way and your party will be wiped out instantly. As all enemies appear on the map (no random battles), you can try to avoid unwanted confrontations, but this proves to be difficult in the more densely populated areas. If enemies bunch up, you'll have to deal with multiple enemies instead of a single foe. In order to gain the advantage in battles, you can send your party to attack. In typical RPG fashion, you must attack enemies from behind to do so. The game does attempt to solve the issues of revisiting previous areas, by allowing you to skip battles altogether if you attack enemies far below your current party level.
Citizens of Earth is an enjoyable charming retro-inspired RPG with clear inspiration from the SNES classic EarthBound. There are occasional pacing issues, as certain areas seem to be padded with additional areas and enemies. The writing hits the mark throughout, making jokes about the political system and the occasional pop culture reference.
Note: The Citizens of Earth review is based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided for review. The digital PS4 version of the game was tested for comparison.