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Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) artwork

Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) review

"Citizens of Earthbound."

Citizens of Earth isn't shy about its inspirations. This game would very much like to scratch the same itch as the cult classic, Earthbound. To the development team's credit, as obvious as the homage is, the end result never feels like it's simply aping the older game. Unfortunately, it also never approaches Earthbound's level of quality (or that of any other worthwhile RPG).

Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) image

The game's most noteworthy feature is the player character, a newly-elected Vice President, who can use his political charms to recruit 40 different citizens to serve as party members. Each comes with his or her own special “Talent” that can be used outside of battle. The Teacher, for example, can put your other party members in “school” for a set amount of time, earning them EXP without subjecting them to battle. One particularly useful character, the School Mascot, can adjust the game's difficulty level on a sliding scale, awarding you more or less EXP for battling stronger or weaker enemies.

Citizens of Earth is like Pokemon, except with tedious side quests and mini-games instead of Pokeballs. Most characters will insist that you fetch them an item, or go to a specific place in the world, or grind to a certain level, or do some other equally boring thing. Practically none of the chores are even the least bit fun or interesting, and you're likely to complete some of the easier ones more out of a sense of duty than an actual desire to expand your party. You may simply not bother with anyone who doesn't possess a Talent you actively want to use. Story quests are dull enough without throwing in a bunch of optional stuff.

Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) image

The battle system is a traditional turn-based JRPG-style affair. Trippy Earthbound-inspired backgrounds flicker as the most forgettable battle theme music of all time plays. Any turn-based system worth its salt introduces some interesting gimmick to differentiate it from its contemporaries. Citizens of Earth uses an uninteresting energy system that you may simply ignore for most random battles. Each character has a variety of moves. Some moves restore energy. Others deplete it. Characters have a list of several “categories” of abilities, each with its own subset of several individual abilities, and finding the correct ability to use can be more cumbersome than is ideal. Not that you'll need to really pay attention for most of the game. You can--and will--make it through most random battles by simply mashing the X button to perform standard attacks until your enemy dies. You might glance at the screen now and then to make sure your health isn't dropping too low, but that's about it. Bosses require a bit more concentration, but not a lot. You can increase the difficulty level to give yourself some incentive to use special abilities in regular combat, but the system isn't interesting enough to justify it. As repetitive as mashing X is, at least you can check Twitter or something while you do it.

Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) image

Battles are also quite frequent. Enemies are the good kind of weird, consisting of deer with phone receivers on their heads (Telefawn), bureaucratic eagles with neckties and bad hairpieces (Toupee Eagles), and other unnatural monstrosities. Text displayed in battle isn't as interesting, though not for lack of effort. “Teacher can figure out the length of things easily, and uses the knowledge to slam Honey Bear” is an amusing way to say “Teacher attacks Honey Bear” the first time, but an unnecessarily wordy way to convey a small amount of information the rest of the time. That's not even a special move! That's the Teacher's standard attack!

Not all of the writing is similarly intrusive. The game is no Portal, but there are some amusing lines of dialogue. Many of them are voiced, though they might sound funnier in your head. The voice acting isn't bad, exactly, but it's generally bland. That goes quintuple for the music. You'll forget most of it the moment you stop playing the game. It is the Ann Veal of video game soundtracks. One notable exception to that rule is the horrible corruption of "Hail to the Chief" that plays on the title screen, with its overpowering BWEER-ing that will remind you of the worst low-budget Sega Genesis game you ever rented by accident.

Citizens of Earth (PlayStation 4) image

The best parts of Citizens of Earth are inoffensive, but most of the time, the game is simply boring. Both the combat and the quest design feel like the basic foundations that so many RPG's are based upon, without anything built from there to make it stand out. It's Final Fantasy without the story. It's Earthbound without the charm. It's Dragon Quest without the depth. Citizens of Earth is just kind of nothing.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (February 17, 2015)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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