Citizens of Earth Preview

Eden Industries recently started a Kickstarter for a brand new RPG for the PC that shares a lot in common with the legendary Earthbound on the Super NES. Their funding goal is $100,00 Canadian, and as of writing this they have garnered around 10% of that total, with 26 days left in the campaign. The developer is made up of several people involved with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and seems to have a clear vision for where they want to take this game. One of the team contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in covering the title, and since I love all things Earthbound, I figured why the heck not.

The game begins with players taking on the role of the Vice Presents of the World. Right there that should give you an idea of just how wacky the sense of humor is in this game. 24 hours after being elected the new VP, you decide it’s time for a vacation and head back to your old home, where your mother and brother live. From there the adventure begins.

The funniest part is that you don’t actually do any of the fighting yourself. Like a true politician you get everyone else to do the work for you. That’s where Citizens of Earth really shines, in its recruitment system. Virtually every new character you meet can be recruited into your party, each having their own unique power set. Meet a baker, they’ll be your go-to for fire attacks, while the conspiracy guy is perfect for dealing high damage to mechanical creatures. Each character will require the completion of a side-quest before they’ll join you. Sometimes it’s locating a certain item or items, while others require you to defeat a certain enemy.

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Gameplay is broken down into your typical 16-bit era RPG formula. You do a lot of exploring around the local town before venturing off into the forest, fighting countless creatures along the way. The story has you originally trying to figure out why there are so many protesters in town, and then why everyone in the coffee shop is so out of it because of the new Special Blend. From there things escalate to the outrageous.

The game shares a lot in common with Earthbound, from the contemporary setting to the combat engine. Whenever you see enemies walking around, which is all the time as there are no random encounters, you have the ability to shout “Go!” and send up to three party members rushing towards the enemy. If they hit the enemy’s back, they’re given a power boost, but if the enemy strikes them first they lose a power boost. Power boosts work sort of like MP in other RPGs. Each character can store up to three power boosts, with some attacks consuming them, while others build them. This means you can’t just walk into a fight and go crazy, you actually have to plan your attacks accordingly and make sure you have enough power boosts in reserve for when needed.

CoE1Another feature carried over from Earthbound that I love is the auto-fight mechanic. If you send your group to attack an enemy and they’re a few levels higher, the fight will automatically end with you gaining the experience. Experience is handled much like the old-school RPGs of yesterday, whereby points are automatically allocated to your attributes.

While not available in the playable demo, additional party members are able to be stored in the town’s school so they can earn experience while they’re not in use. If you keep all your characters on you, you’ll have to switch them up in order to level them all out. That might sound bothersome, but we have no clue how the school system will work. Perhaps you’ll be able to transport members on the fly.

CoE4The demo, which is available from the game’s Kickstarter page takes about two to three hours to complete, and offers a nice tease of what the developer hopes to achieve with sufficient funding. After having played through the demo myself, there’s a lot of potential here. Eden Industries promises dozens of party members, a truly robust combat system, and a great storyline. I’m already convinced this is a game that deserves to be funded if nothing else because of the hilarious narrative. I’d really love to see the funding get pushed to $160,000 so a Wii U version could be made, but right now I’d be happy just to see the game released. If you’re looking for an old-school RPG that has many modern elements like detailed and creative graphics, a kick-ass soundtrack, and fun combat system, be sure to check out Citizens of Earth!

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