Woken by his Mum after oversleeping, it’s an inconspicuous start for you as the proclaimed Vice President of the World in Citizens of Earth. Taking vacation after being in office for only one day, the long election campaign has certainly stirred up the voters but has led to angry protesters marauding the streets of his hometown.
Unable to start his day without a caffeine boost, you stroll into the nearby Moonbucks where the aptly named Conspiracy Guy speculates that a tainted brewed drink is having an adverse effect on the locals. Swayed from purchasing the Special Blend, you soon discover that it is the Opposition Leader behind the demonstration in his town, a quick scuffle seeing your defeated rival flee with the protestors in tow.
But the coffee itself is another matter, as you soon discover that the Moonbucks manager had been abducted and turned into a coffee robot. When the café takes to the skies after you unearth such secrets, you run home to catch some beauty sleep only to be summoned to the President’s Office. Checking out Capitol City’s Moonbucks for similarly strange occurrences after he asks you to grab him a triple-pump, non-fat, extra-foam soy latte with cinnamon, the secret service swarms you in suspicion of kidnapping the President. And so your quest continues, from one peculiarity to the next.
Citizens of Earth never takes itself too seriously, the parody-ridden script largely playing jokes at the Vice President’s expense as, despite his overwhelming naivety, he looks to uncover the truth behind whatever’s meddling with the planet. Never wanting to lay a finger himself, you’ll recruit friends, family and anyone else in town willing to help fight your battles for you. Those that you choose for your party will loyally wander behind you, faithfully trekking through the suburbs in a way that recalls Nintendo’s very own Earthbound.
It’s much in the same style, granting the freedom to wander your surroundings and into most buildings to see if they hide anything worthwhile. While progression’s largely story-driven, you must embark on side quests to earn the trust of the 40 or so citizens that can rally to your cause. Referred to by their chosen careers, gaining their support will see you taking photos to support the journalist’s articles, admiring a painter’s paintings, or beating a car salesman in a race. It’s quirky through and through, but they each lend different strengths to the battles that you will frequently face.
These are turn-based instances, your three-strong party rolling up their sleeves as they look to clobber their opponents into submission. They’ll do so through normal attacks, used to generate Energy that can then be expended to unleash far stronger ones. These again echo each character’s profession – the barista serving up hot drinks to help your party build Energy, the cop using a riot shield to protect herself from damage, and the teacher using multiplication to double the effectiveness of a party member’s next action. While wandering the world you can humorously charge your party into battle to receive an Energy boost, whereas being caught out by an enemy will reduce it.
Outside of battle, they also have a unique Talent to put to use. Whether that be your brother remote ordering items through the FedUPs system, the school mascot changing the game’s difficulty for increased reward, or taking motherly advice from your Mum to refresh your memory on any aspect. This purposefully spurs you to gather them all behind the Vice President’s banner, diversifying your approach.
Citizens of Earth knows where to draw worthy inspiration from and strikes success in numerous areas, but equally suffers in others. Relentless loading screens perpetuate every screen transition, frustration toward them only increased through the game’s entirety as you wait to continue the adventure. Whereas the narrative itself fails to stir any urgency in the player toward succeeding in their quest.
Canadian developer Eden Industries have created a wondrously bizarre world, where players can observe throwbacks to old-school RPGs with more modern design seeping in. It’s the technical issues, forgettable plot and battle heavy approach that detract from a game that otherwise nearly hammers its mark.