Citizens of Earth was one of those quirky games that tried to channel elements from series like Mother, with its battle system, and Suikoden, with its character recruiting. It was a generally pleasant sort of game, the sort where your mileage would vary depending on how tolerant you were of its cheesy jokes and general demeanor. Citizens of Space is a surprise follow up that attempts to improve on the formula. Maybe it would even attempt to be more memorable! While it definitely does make some strides in the right direction, it also feels lacking in heart and motivation.
Citizens of Space begins with the Earth finally being welcomed to the Galactic Federation. Players follow the official Ambassador as he goes to accept the honor and join the ranks of the other officials. Except, when he goes to make his speech, he learns the Earth has disappeared. It is up to you to visit different planets nearby, recruit assorted aliens and people, and find out what happened to the planet. Since this is a buffoonish politician, that means he is incredibly inept, constant sound bites are frequently reused as you traverse different planets, and very obvious humor is employed.
Like Citizens of Earth, Citizens of Space is not much for character development. Even the Ambassador comes across as a flat, one-note caricature. When you come across other people you may be able to rally to your cause, no backstory or substance is provided. The Captain is the person who ferried you to the Galactic Federation in the first place and joins after you beat the duck who wanted to have him illegally carry coffee across the galaxy. The robotic Sheriff is a robot on a wild west-themed moon. Time Cop is a time-traveling cop with very tight bike shorts who wants you to collect bounties before joining. While these characters may look bright and colorful, their personalities are, well, not.
Beyond their recruitment quests and some minor segments, the citizens are minions who only appear in battles. It’s not like you have a great sense of satisfaction from watching Ambassador interact with a battle citizen like Confectioner. Once you go to the trouble of actually recruiting someone and building them up, they’re just kind of… there. Citizens of Space is lacking that tug that makes you want to keep investing time in it and seeing things through, and I suspect a part of that is due the characters being lackluster and all sidequests involving basic fetch quests or menial tasks.
This isn’t to say there aren’t things that are pleasant about Citizens of Space. It is a very vibrant game, with distinct characters and each planet having its own personality. It tries to give you a rather full to-do list. There are time-saving elements enabled, such as your Assistant’s ability to alter the encounter rate and a button you can press to prompt an arrow telling you where to go. You can also visit one character to level grind against opponents you have already seen, to practice and improve yourself. Then, there’s the battle system.
Citizens of Space’s fights are one area where it really gets things right. It employs a Paper Mario-like battle system. Each of your three battle citizens in a party has a brief minigame attached to their attacks. This can mean performing actions like button mashing, holding an analog stick, and hitting buttons at the correct time to get that coveted “super” that deals additional damage to foes. While it would have been nice if, for characters who join after the Captain, you received a brief tutorial about their basic range and attacks, things are easy enough to figure out. You can swap party members as needed and perform different kinds of buffs or boosts as the Ambassador, who uses “policies” to improve the lives of his citizens.
You know how you sometimes find a game that is generally fine? It might be one you pick up because one element, like a battle system, appeals to you. It certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s pleasant enough for the time you’re playing it? That’s what Citizens of Space is. It may not have the most compelling quests or characters, but it has a battle system that works really well and provides an enjoyable enough experience for the 15 or so hours you’ll play it.
Citizens of Space is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.