Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Switch
Back in 2015, Eden Industries brought us a fun EarthBound-esque RPG titled Citizens of Earth. The game was fun, lighthearted, and comedic. It wasn't afraid to wear its EarthBound influence on its sleeve, and it provided an enjoyable adventure worthy of its own merit. Here we are four years later, and the folks at Eden Industries are back with Citizens of Space, a follow-up that's bigger than the original. But is it better?
To Infinity and... Well, You Get the Idea
In Citizens of Earth, you played as the dopey Vice President of the entire world. Though this charming character doesn't return in Citizens of Space, we do get the equally oblivious Ambassador of Earth. Things quickly go awry as you prepare to give a speech during a meeting with the Galactic Federation of Planets when the Earth goes missing. Yeah, just like that.
As Ambassador of Earth, it's your job to figure out what the heck happened to the not-so-tiny planet and reclaim it. That's easier said than done, though, because you'll have plenty of obstacles in your way. Thankfully, Citizens of Space is a joy to play.
Like Any True Leader, You'll Need a Posse
Citizens of Space follows the traditional RPG formula quite faithfully. You're given quests — many times you'll have a handful of quests going on simultaneously — and you clear these quests by either finding key items, tracking down certain characters, or exploring dungeons.
As the representative of an entire planet, you're going to need followers. You start out with your snarky, Milhouse look-alike assistant, but eventually, your party will grow into quite the formidable ragtag bunch. I'm talking alien pirates, baristas, pizza delivery duders, and chemists.
Enlisting the aid of the citizens isn't done with a snap of the fingers. Most of these characters require that you fulfill certain objectives before the sign up to help you. This opens up a whole subset of quests directly related to recruiting helpers. These quests never feel tedious, though, and building your gang actually makes for some of the most fun in Citizens of Space.
Turn-Based Intergalactic Warfare
Encounters are timed, with a meter at the bottom of the screen going from green to red the more you walk around the stages. Once the meter hits red, you'll likely encounter a group of baddies within seconds. You can actually customize the rate at which you encounter enemies, allowing you to have either a more casual experience or a slew of nonstop battles one after the other.
The battles themselves are fun turn-based affairs. Whether you're taking on lowly fodder or big bosses, the battles never get too difficult, but they do pose a fair challenge. Your teammates are the ones dealing out the big damage, but the Ambassador can still provide some much-needed support in the form of dropping heals and, well, attempting to get the whole gang to run away from battles. Yeah, not a good look for a politician, I suppose.
It's funny that this game's protagonist comes off as even more useless than the Vice President in Citizens of Earth, but it's definitely in keeping with the game's comedic tone. It's not like you really need the Ambassador as a support character anyway, because along the way, you'll encounter characters who can join your team and actually provide proper support such as buffing your attacks, increasing your defense, and so on.
The battles are made a tad more engaging thanks to the timing-based attack and defense system. When dishing out an offensive move, you'll be prompted to mash on a certain button or hold a specific directional button to power up your moves. Likewise, when it's your enemies' turn to attack, perfectly timing a button press will decrease the damage you receive. In this regard, Citizens of Space is more like Paper Mario than EarthBound.
The battle systems in place here are nothing new for the genre, but they're done quite well. You could make the argument that Citizens of Space maybe doesn't try to go above and beyond — because it certainly doesn't — but it still manages to provide fun gameplay from start to finish.
Delivering Speeches and Looking Good While Doing It
The writing in Citizens of Space is witty most of the time, though I did find the first game funnier. Some characters are hit-or-miss, but the Ambassador is a sheer joy to listen to on account of his idiotic nature. The majority of the game features decent voice acting, though some characters — specifically those with high-pitched voices — are likely to grate on your nerves.
The art style of Citizens of Space is clean and cartoon-like. At times, the screen can look a bit too cluttered with trees or buildings or weird creatures, but the colorful aesthetic is definitely solid.
Your quest to take back Earth will run you about 15 hours or so. In that time, you'll meet a funny cast of characters and engage in some cool little battles. Citizens of Space never really tries to shake up RPG genre conventions, but the game is clearly not out to do that. This is a game that, by all intents and purposes, is meant to provide a fun and laidback experience, and it does that very well.