This is a hard game to quantify.
Is it an homage to Earthbound, a game that was groundbreaking in its zany humor and outlandish style? Or is Citizens of Earth merely piggy-backing off of a cultural giant with a bunch of simple nods and winks to similarities?
After playing through it, I've come to the conclusion that for all the love and care that's gone into the writing and the humor of the game, it doesn't quite make up for lackluster gameplay.
A bit of a lame-duck
The hero of our story is the Vice President of the World, a name as ornamental as his hairstyle. The purpose of the game is to find out the mystery behind the strange new coffee shop on the corner, and what it has to do with world politics.
The game is teeming with pop culture references, making this a veritable time capsule of tongue in cheek satire. For instance, the bodybuilder character, an obvious lift of Arnold Schwarzenegger, references Terminator and Kindergarten Cop in his banter with the VP.
And the humor continues for a long time. Always witty, but seldom scathing, the writers have a penchant for engaging dialogue and hilarious quips. But for all its humor it can't escape the simple fact that the game's plot is a mess.
A jumble of vague hints and prompts kept me fumbling through a story incapable of focus or motivation. Little reminders came up on the game's central hub, a tablet containing all the information you need, from item lists to maps and skill lists.
However, these reminders only showed me that I had no idea why I was running around the world looking for new party members and solving a mystery that had something vaguely to do with coffee.
Bogged down with paperwork
As a result, not only is the plot barely coherent, it really hampers the game's ability to pace itself. There's no drive or importance to the main plotline, which gave me little to no inclination to craft any particular bond with the characters. As amusing as the varied and creative party members were, I didn't feel any real motivation to continue playing the game other than to laugh a little more and see even more of the cast of colorful characters.
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself becomes less of a pleasure and more of a chore as time wears on. Aside from the jumbled plot, the random encounters in the game are relentless to the point of being unfair, with each battle making me wish for an auto battle option.
Party recruitment is also a pain. The VP himself doesn't fight, rather he gets his constituents to do the dirty work for him. But much in theme with the rest of the game, the tedious sidequests you must complete in order to recruit them make you wonder if it's even worth it to get that School Teacher or Pilot on your team.
Also, the presence of some glitches and bugs will leave the taste of an unfinished game in your mouth. When you're slogging away earning exp point after exp point, to suddenly lose it in a system crash is not a pleasant feeling.
If you like satire and zany humor, as well as throw backs to a nostalgic era of RPGs, then Citizens of Earth is a nice way to spend a rainy day, or your daily commute. But remember, you take the bad with the good when it comes to tributes to an older RPG.