Libra: Citizens of Space (Switch)
Libra is a series which provides first impressions of games before their full review. These are generally spoiler free, however, some base plot points – as well as some mechanic/system reveals – could lurk ahead.
I walked into Citizens of Space completely blind. I have heard of but never played the first game in the series, Citizens of Earth, and knew absolutely nothing about its story, gameplay, art style, or even its genre. I am too happy to say, then, that so far I’ve found Citizens of Space to be a delightful RPG full of little surprises, from the innovative combat system to little bits of humor peppered throughout the dialogue. Imagine my shock walking into what I thought would be a little 10-20 hour indie title, only to find a Sega-published, full-length RPG on the other side.
Citizens of Space picks up some years / decades after the original game, with Earth finally becoming an official member of the Galactic Federation. Our protagonist, the Ambassador, is every bit the squeaky clean politician, full of optimism, charm, bluster, stupidity, and an abundance of foolhardy self-confidence. Whether he is interacting with his more practical, beleaguered assistant, various alien or robotic citizens of the Federation, or the scourge of the underworld, the Ambassador can’t help but interpret every encounter in the best – and most self-aggrandizing – manner. So far, this trope has yet to get old, making each new conversation (which are plentiful) an amusing experience.
From the gameplay side, Citizens of Space gets off to a slow start, due in no small part to the extensive number of NPCs to speak with, subquests to pick up, and shops to explore. A large number of NPCs you meet will be able to be recruited into your party by completing some kind of quest, with a good number of these quests accessible within the first 15 minutes of the game. For someone like me, who can’t resist taking every side quest available – it meant spending well over an hour after starting the game just wandering around talking to NPCs and not progressing the story in any way, shape, or form. While this freedom can certainly be chalked up as a benefit, it also has a drawback of hurting the pacing of the opening act and making the player feel a little disconnected from the action.
Once you do get into the swing of things, the game quickly picks up pace and becomes a delight to play. The combat system iterates upon the timed button presses from games like Super Mario RPG, instead turning each attack into its own minigame, where you’ll be tested on your reflexes, timing, and button mashing skills. Each combat character who joins your party comes with their own attacks and associated minigames. Meanwhile, another group of partners can be recruited who open up various quality of life features, like changing the music, altering random encounter rates, etc. This makes for an added incentive to complete those recruitment quests and adds a good bit of story and gameplay integration, which I love.
All said, Citizens of Space has been an enjoyable experience so far, but it remains to be seen how the later stages of the game will progress and how the difficulty, complexity, and fun factor will scale as time goes on.
- Excellent quality of life features
- Gameplay and story integration
- Innovative combat mechanics
- Charming characters
- Variety of subquests
- High polish
- Slow start
- Sidequest pacing somewhat daunting
Be on the lookout for my complete Citizens of Space review soon!