Being VP of Earth is hard work!
Plenty of people dream of becoming the President of the United States, but how many people yearn to be the Vice President of the entire world? Well, Citizens of Earth allows players to do just that, but it's not all TV interviews and ritzy presidential dinners as the Vice President must recruit citizens and undertake countless mundane tasks in the interim. Fortunately the repetitive missions are masked under the guise of a turn-based RPG with interesting combat and stylish visuals.
As the newly-elected President of Earth, players begin their adventure on vacation after an apparently back-breaking first day at work. Since high-ranking people don't soil their hands with physical labor, the VP must recruit citizens to literally fight his battles for him. Dear old mom and the VP's brother are his first recruits, and additional party members can only be recruited by completing a special task for each one. With dozens of additional members to recruit, quite a bit of time can be spent simply bypassing the oddball storyline in favor of building up a citizen army.
It's worth the extra effort to recruit as many citizens as possible because all 40 of them have useful abilities. There aren't actual classes, per se, but mom can heal allies and drop the enemy's defense while the brother is more like a tank who can protect allies. Other citizens can perform unusual feats like changing the difficulty level on the fly, initiating fast travel, and even scavenging through dirty areas that are otherwise unsearchable. Using both citizen combat and world abilities help add variety that offsets the numerous fetch quests and citizen recruiting tasks.
Speaking of which, the sheer amount of quests is both impressive and intimidating! It reminds me of early World of Warcraft as most quests are extremely simplistic and only exist to help players gain XP. It's not particularly interesting to search for walking coffee beans and fight them only to take the loot back to the quest-giver, but most of the quests follow this boring format. Humor that pokes fun of everything from politics to coffee addiction eases the monotony of the seemingly endless quests, but it's not as clever as what's found in South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Combat follows the standard turn-based JRPG template where players input a command for each party member and then sit back and watch the turn play out. Most characters have weak attacks, buffs, or debuffs that build energy which is required to initiate stronger attacks. As a result, nearly every combat encounter is a slow back-and-forth where players build energy, then use said energy, and then repeat the process. This mechanic forces many battles to take longer than necessary, which quickly gets old. Bugs such as screen pauses where it seems like the text is trying to catch up with the combat only adds to the frustration.
It's a good thing the level design is solid or else there wouldn't be much incentive for me to keep playing. I love how players start in their own house that they share with mom (where else would the VP of Earth live?), and then branch out into their neighborhood, the forest, the beach, Capital City, and beyond. The varied terrain is a good excuse to throw a wide variety of nutty enemies at players that range from angry protesters to deer with telephone antlers to baristas with blenders for hands. You never know what new location and crazy character you'll encounter next.
Despite some poor design choices and a few bugs, Citizens of Earth is still an enjoyable game that will appeal to turn-based RPG fans who like quirky humor. It's just too bad that there's such a strong focus on keeping players busy rather than interested.
Code provided by publisher. Based on PC version. Also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.