As we get closer to National Coming Out Day on October 11th, what better time to review the well-received gay-themed interactive novel video game, Coming Out on Top from Obscurasoft? The game was released in 2014 on Steam and has been played by thousands of gamers on Steam. The reviews from members of the Steam community have been overwhelmingly positive. So, let's take a close look at this game!
Available on Steam for macOS, Windows, and Linux.
Currently available for 34% off on Steam!
Reviewed on the latest Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch model.
Out of the closet
Coming Out on Top is a story about the player character, named Mark by default, coming out to his two roommates, Penny and Ian at the start of their last semester of college. The two roommates play a significant role in the story regardless of the story that unfolds around Mark. The goal of the game is to finish Mark's last semester of school and potentially find love (or lust) along the way. In order to do this, the player must make choices for Mark and watch the interactive novel come to life.
Coming Out on Top is a video game about choices. These choices have an impact on all of the potential routes that the player character can take throughout this story. Each route can end with potential romance or can leave the player character single. Choices are presented in the center of the screen and the game will not continue until one is selected. Each choice can alter the path of the entire game from that point, so players will need to decide carefully.
While choices do matter to the routes in the game, some lead to segments of the story that really go off the rails. One of the more ridiculous scenarios in the game finds Ian in the gay bar lying to bar patrons about Mark's package size. This results in a long line of men signing up to sleep with Mark. This would just never happen and it makes it sound like all gay men are just desperate and size queens. This was definitely a scenario that was dreamed up by someone that is not a gay man. Or at least, one that has never been in public. It really takes away from the fantasy when some of the less plausible events occur.
There are actually a lot of wacky events that occur during Ian's story... but he's still the best character!
Overall, there are numerous routes that Mark can take through this game. Many of which that lead to a happy ending for Mark and his selected partner. Though, I like to believe that the canon ending involves Ian. The game does feature three hidden endings as well. Two of which involve your new pet fish, Slurpy, that probably should have been omitted from the final product...
Be kind, rewind
The game has two features that make it easier to unlock all of the possible intimate scenes with the player's various partners. The save feature is what one would expect from any video game. It saves your state up until that point in the game. This is especially helpful for all romance options other than Ian and Alex as you can save just past the point where their routes would start and avoid the whole introductory days to the game. Players can just start the game from before the other four romance routes become available.
The other feature is the ability to rewind. Rewind allows players to undo choices that were previously made. Although it is limited, one can scroll back through a generous amount of content. This makes it possible to view and unlock certain scenes that would normally lock the player out from the remainder of the route. For example, if the Mark decides to make a move on his professor before helping him, he can end up in various sex scenes with him. However, following this route prevents Mark from starting a relationship with his professor. Players can choose to watch the sex scenes, unlock them, then rewind back to before Mark makes a move on his professor, and then make the correct choice to pursue a relationship with him.
And the extras...
In addition to the above features, the game includes various extras. All of the unlocked illustrations can be viewed again from the gallery by selecting the "Gallery" option. All of the illustrations are provided without any additional text on the screen. The gallery is separated in tabs for each of the datable men in the game. Players can also jump right into setting up bonus dates from the "Bonus Dates" option on the main menu.
The options menu gives the player the ability to customize many aspects of the game itself. Options allow you to censor the content in the game since it contains a lot of nudity. You can choose whether or not to have the characters use condoms which applies to all of the illustrations with penetration and some of the text. Players can disable the menu music, which can be annoying. It also gives players the ability to customize their suitors to their liking. At any time, all of the options can be altered.
Man, oh, man
Coming Out on Top features six men that the main character Mark can date and ultimately end up with a relationship: Ian, his close friend and roommate; Alex, his anatomy professor; Phil, a Marine Corps recruit and the cousin of his other roommate Penny; Jed, the lead singer of a punk rock band and lives above him; Brad, a football player that he tutors; or Amos, an older man that he meets at the bar. Though it appears many of these relationships can be started, only one at a time can be finished.
In addition, there are twelve additional bonus men that can be tackled in this game as well: Cesar, a narcotics officer; Donovan, a father that is recently divorced from his wife; Frank, who appears to be an investor; Jake, a self-proclaimed foodie; Luke, an Irish rugby player; Terry, a pop star; Theo, a video game developer; Tommy, a lawyer; Oz and Pete, a couple; and Jesse and Hugh; twin brother paramedics. Most of these men can be found via an application that Penny develops, with the exception of the twin paramedics.
Your dream man
All nineteen of the men featured in the game, including Mark, can be customized in a limited capacity. Most of the men can be have their facial hair or body hair changed. A few select options are that select characters can have other options altered: piercings, body hair color, and mustache. None of these options have any consequence in the game. However, if you are like me, you prefer to have your guys with a beard and some body hair. All of these customizations are applied to their in-game models and their illustrations.
Regardless of what route Mark takes during his final semester of college, he is bound to have a sexual encounter of some kind with the man that he is fancying. The encounters range from a kiss, to a dream about having sex, to actually having sex. Regardless, these encounters are a result of the choices the player has made up until that point. It is possible to see some scenes from multiple romance partners in one play through. However, a completionist may want to focus on unlocking all of the scenes from one character at a time.
All of the event scenes are highly detailed illustrations. Many of the illustrations are very explicit sexual material of two or three men having sex. Though none of the illustrations are truly animated, some of the transitions lay over so well that it almost appears as if the characters are moving. The accompanying text really fires it up with what the protagonist is thinking or what the participants are saying to one another. Unfortunately, nothing is voiced over here. However, it does not make it any less exciting.
Diversity, kind of
Although the game allows the player to change facial and body hair of their dates, one issue that remains in the game is that it has a lack of diversity among the characters the player can date, especially the main date options. Of the six, one is a person of color and one is sort of a bearish build. However, nearly all of the men are white and have super great physique. The bonus dates attempt to remedy this by adding five men of color, another man with a bearish type build, and a few more slender options. However, none of these men are truly capable of being romanced. It is pretty disappointing.
Grind... err... I mean Brofinder!
Imagine! It is 2014 and gay dating apps like Scruff and Grindr do not exist! (Although, they did exist then. I met my husband on these apps. 🙄) Fortunately, your (presumably) straight female roommate Penny is here to save the day! Penny develops, rather conveniently and super quickly, Brofinder, a gay dating app! This detail really bugs me as someone with a background in software engineering... However, she is ready for you to jump right into testing for it and allows you access to the application.
Brofinder is a hub for nearly all of the bonus dates in the game. Through the app you can meet ten different guys through nine different options. Fortunately, players can access all of these pretty easily by selecting the "Bonus Dates" option in the main menu, rather than playing through the whole story. Generally, these bonus dates are bit tougher to navigate and can easily end up with a game over. These dates typically can end in one of two sex scenes but since the paths vary so greatly, it usually requires more than one play through. Some of these bonus characters actually could have made excellent main date choices as there is certainly more diversity amongst them.
One of the potential dates in the Brofinder app is a couple named Oz and Pete. Pete is looking into watching his boyfriend get used by another man. Oz is not really aware that this is going on but if the player selects the correct dialog, Pete gets his wish. As a married gay man in an open relationship, I feel like there should have been a lot more of these options, as "couple seeking third" is a pretty common keyword on gay dating applications. Though it does seem the developer was trying to kill two birds with one stone by including both a threesome and cuckold option in the game.
Finally, it would seem unnatural for a gay-themed video game set in our world not to feature any women. From the get-go, you are introduced to the only female main character that is seen in every play through, Penny. Although Penny is quite annoying, her demeanor in the game is believable. However, many of the other women that Mark encounters depending on the route he takes, are not quite... right.
I want to take you to a gay bar!
After coming out at the start of the story, Penny, of course, chimes in stating that she has a gay cousin that she would love to set up with Mark. Because, of course, the only other gay person that she knows would love to be set up with her roommate. 🙄 She is also so excited that Mark has come out that she wants to take him to a gay bar right away. Some players may see this as kind gestures, however, I see it as quite the opposite. Penny is opportunistic and manages to make this huge moment in Mark's life all about her. However, one would be hard-pressed to find an individual in the LQBTQ+ that has not had an experience with someone like Penny. So, I actually see this as pretty realistic.
Tie me, tie me down!
Penny and Mark's other roommate, Ian has one of the better fleshed out stories in the game. Throughout your pursuit of him, Ian introduces Mark to numerous female side characters. None of them seem right and it actually feels like they detract from one of the stronger stories in the game. First, you are introduced to Zoe who brings you a box of Ian's sex toys after they "break up" early in his story. After kissing Ian and he confesses he has had feelings for Mark, Ian becomes reclusive and then plans to leave with Zoe to Las Vegas. Mark decides to confront them at Zoe's home where he finds out that they're not in a relationship, but Ian goes there because of his feelings for Mark. She is just there in like a latex bikini-thing? Weird.
Along the way to weird Zoe, Mark and Ian go out to a bar to help Ian pickup a woman. Ian spots two of them and Mark chats them up for him. Ian decides to kiss Mark again which gets them interested to go back with them... for some reason. One of the two is super eager to get into the bedroom with Ian and they leave Mark behind. Mark being gay is not interested so the other girl leaves to join them. Ian has a threesome with them and later tells Mark he was thinking about him the whole time. Weird. These ladies should have been left out.
Does it come out on top?
Despite a few weird hiccups in the story telling and lack of diversity amongst the main dates, this gay-themed interactive novel is a lot of fun to experience. I haven't played one of these prior to taking on this one, but this one has plenty of depth. Many of the characters are very likable. Ian became an immediate favorite. And admittedly, this game has some pretty intense moments.
- A lot of likable characters!
- Especially Ian...
- Illustrations are very detailed and graphic.
- Ability to customize beards, body hair, condoms, etc.
- It actually gets pretty hot!
- One of the first gay-themed dating sim interactive novels.
- Lots of replayability!
- Some scenarios are very unbelievable or go off the rails.
- Underrepresented body types and lack of diversity, especially for the main dates.
- Poor Slurpy.
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