Coming out on Top comes from the developers at Obscurasoft, and in all honesty it seems a rather mixed bag. In essence, the game is a Western eroge, or visual novel, centered on the main characters sexual conquests and the NPCs they meet and interact with.
In the world of adult visual novels, coming out on top is nothing new, apart from the fact that it was made for a Western audience rather than a Japanese one. The game follows Mark Matthews, a college student who has recently come out to his friends/roommates. Further research outside of what the developers show us doesn’t provide much information about its fan base or otherwise. So this review will focus entirely on the presented story and gameplay mechanics.
“Coming out on Top is a game.”– Gamewise.co… (Thanks for that).
The story initially starts out with Mark coming out to his friends. Both friends seem to be totally okay with this, though the game instantly touches a little bit on real life with the character of Penny, the female friend who seems to use the characters sexuality as a way to further her own social circle, and to fill up time on her calendar for parties. This seems to be a recurring theme, once Mark introduces himself to another NPC, his parents for example, his sexuality is treated as a fashion statement or as more “progressive” brownie points. There are certain characters that also fall into the trap of “You are gay, so let me introduce you to my gay friend/family member” assuming that sexuality is the only thing two people need to form a bond. Though this can be easily taken as intentional writing to highlight this fact.
The writing is the games strong point, not so much in the story but in its humor. This can be hit and miss at times, and can come off as glib “Generation Y” attempts to be cool, though it hits more often than it misses. The sound effects in the game are just as funny, bad funny. On a personal note, there was a masturbation scene at the beginning where you didn’t get to see what was happening, but you got to hear something that sounded like someone fisting a tub of Vaseline which made me break down laughing.
If there is one problem Coming out on Top has, it’s that it’s been held too highly for what it is. The genre of Yaoi games is not lacking for this type of content, however this may be the first time anyone in the West has come across (no pun intended) this type of material. There are also some aspects of the game that do reflect SOME aspects of gay life, but the shortfall of that is that no two gay men are the same. Some gay men are going to be masculine, some feminine, some “straight acting” and seo forth so it’s hard to pin down and compare exact experiences.
Artistically, Coming out on top ranges from standard to good. However, there are points between the CG style and the sprite art where the quality differs, this can be put down to different artists working on different aspects of the artwork. Adding to the presentation and choices of the game, you are able to select whether a male character has or doesn’t have facial hair. At a guess, this is most likely incorporated to satisfy differing sexual tastes (Otters, bears, wolves etc.).
Like many other visual novel games, there is a lot here including different stories, branching path lines etc. and despite some nit-picks, Coming out on top is recommended, especially if it’s your jumping on point for gay visual novels. The majority of sex scene are optional and you aren’t always forced to do what you don’t want to do. The biggest failing of the game it’s the amount of hype it has received as it makes it unfair for the game to live up to it