By Jason Quinn / July 19th, 2019
|Title||Citizens of Space
|Release Date||June 18th, 2019|
|Platform||PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC|
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
Citizens of Space is a RPG made by Eden Industries. You are the new ambassador of Earth, eager to make a name for himself in the Galactic Federation. Unfortunately, as soon as you make your debut, the Earth has gone missing. Apparently, you are the only one capable of figuring out what happened to it. You team up with a rag-tag group of characters, and eventually discover parts of the Earth have been stolen. Thus begins your journey to piece the Earth back together. After starting your adventure, you travel to different planets and locations, meet some locals, and solve a few smaller mysteries, generally culminating in getting a piece of the Earth back.
Gameplay takes after Paper Mario. Random encounters with a turn based battle system. When you select an attack, you get a little mini-game where if you have solid timing, you’ll do additional damage. When an enemy attacks you, there’s also a mini-game to negate some damage. You get a pretty wide assortment of characters throughout the game, most of them being optional, though its generally worth it to go a bit out of your way to get more characters. All characters have unique attacks and gimmicks, so each character can make a difference. One character, a chef, has attacks that change every round based on the attacks he used prior. So getting his good attacks can involve careful planning. Another character has fire and ice spells, and using them changes his elemental affinities, allowing for stronger attacks in the next turn. Buffs and debuffs are important of course, though hitting elemental weaknesses is vital. Attacks either charge up or use up energy, with generally stronger attacks requiring more energy. Hitting elemental weaknesses not only does more damage, but will give you additional energy.
The battle system works pretty fine, I’d say I even had a bit of fun once I got a full party going. Once you figure things out, battles can be trivialized pretty easily. Random encounters just become sniffing out enemy weaknesses and taking them out in 1 or 2 turns. Bosses can be easily dispatched with summons. The protagonist takes a passive role in fights, doing things like using items on your party, or issuing “orders” that can effect the stats of both you and the enemy. Another thing he can do is summon certain characters he recruits for big attacks. The very first summon I found, a mole that chucks rocks at enemies, ended up being the strongest one by a wide margin. It would often take out 50-70% of a bosses health bar.
Combat just became very formulaic and easy. Even easier than most Mario RPGs, which it takes clear inspiration from with the mini-games that can make attacks hit harder. Unfortunately, none of these mini-games feel very involved or even mesh with the attacks you’re using. In Paper Mario, you’d have stuff like pressing a button right before jumping on an enemies head. Or when using the hammer, you pull back the control stick then release at just the right moment. In Citizens of Space, it feels totally arbitrary. Sometimes just mashing a certain button, or alternating mashing two buttons, filling up a gauge to a certain amount by holding a button. Defending against attacks also only comes in one variety as well. A circle will shrink, and you have to press a button at the right moment, and that’s the only defense mini-game. In Paper Mario, these button presses are more than mini-games, it’s to help draw you into the gameplay more and give you a greater sense of control. Citizens of Space doesn’t seem very concerned with that. Characters having their own gimmicks was interesting, but it really wasn’t enough to make me change my party frequently. Hitting for elemental weaknesses is just the best choice all the time. Characters that can’t do that just feel like dead weight.
I could forgive a lot of the gameplay if the story was strong, and unfortunately that isn’t the case. The writing seems primarily focused on having as much quirky dialogue as possible. There is no breathing room to develop any characters or have any nuance at all when seemingly every single line is some joke or more often than not, an attempt at a joke. Nothing serious or dramatic ever happens, everything gets played for laughs. If a game isn’t going to take itself seriously even a little bit, then I have a hard time taking it seriously. Suffice to say, this style of writing just isn’t for me at all, and I don’t think it lends itself to a 30+ hour RPG. One of the more baffling attempts at humor is when you stumble across a planet filled with plant like people. They apparently stole all of Earth’s plant life to take them as mates, mated with them, and then contracted a deadly fungus. Yes, the most memorable part of this story is dealing with STDs contracted by aliens be getting it on with Earth trees.
Visually, I don’t find this game very appealing. The character designs range from inoffensive to downright ugly. The protagonist in particular looks absolutely horrifying, with a smile that will only grow more unsettling the more you play it. I’m not against “cartoony” looks in games, but I can’t say I found any design in this game to be aesthetically pleasing on any level. The music isn’t quite so bad, though its also not very memorable. I struggle to recall any tune that might’ve stuck in my head. There’s also voice acting, and it certainly matches the quality of everything else. I ended up turning the volume slider for voices all the way done, as I found the random voice clips that would play in battle rather annoying.
I just have a hard time figuring out what the ambition or goal behind this game is. Who was this game for? I honestly don’t know of anyone that would find the writing style funny or would be willing to stick it out for the full length of the game. Personally, I think comedy is better when its balanced with drama. Having a focus on comedy doesn’t mean you have to constantly have an attempt at a joke in every single line of dialogue. It doesn’t help that none of the jokes landed for me. Maybe a small chuckle here and there, but more often than not, I found it annoying. I also don’t think it means you have to forego any sort of real character development. This feels like an episode of some bad “adult” cartoon sitcom but stretched to 30 hours. If you really like that sort of humor, I suppose I can recommend it. $15 is a pretty cheap price, so you might get your money’s worth. For everyone else though, I can’t recommend it.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Citizens of SpaceEden IndustriesRPGSega