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This is the story of your life

"So much has happened on your journey through life! You've discovered new places, learned and tried many different things."

Growing Up is a Life Simulation Game with a sprinkling of Visual Novel and Dating Sim for added fun.

Starting with your very own birth, the game follows your player character through the early parts of their life up until High School graduation. During this time period you'll have to balance school, work, family, and happiness. Preparing for exams, planning for the future, meeting friends, and maybe even finding love are all big parts of growing up, and the game's large cast of characters will have you covered for many playthroughs.

The game was developed and published by Vile Monarch on October 14, 2021 and is available on Steam for PC and Google Play and the App Store for Android and iOS.

Characterization tropes should go on the Character page if they apply to only one character.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Charles' father pressures him into campaigning for student council to make him follow in his footsteps as a politician and also forces Charles' sister Anne to go to boarding school to "fix" her behavior. He's also homophobic and kicks Charles out of the family after the latter comes out to him, even in his good ending.
    • Felicity's mother, Cathy, is out of the country hosting her talk show and doesn't bother taking care of Felicity, and she manipulates her into believing that she's lucky to have a "celebrity" mom. Cathy also exploits her son (Felicity's brother), Humphrey's illness for views. Cathy and her husband don't bother to visit Humphrey on his deathbed, leaving Felicity distressed.
  • Achievement Test of Destiny: Your SAT results determine how your whole life will go. Your grade combined with how many skills in a certain subject you've mastered determines the job you'll get in the end. There are 42 possible careers to take.
  • Area 51: If you train in the military and get an A in the SAT, you'll be deployed in Area 51, where you save the world several times by investigating and capturing aliens. Turns out Bunny and Quack from the eponymous cartoon are Real After All because they're shown being captured in the background.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: Averted in Nate's route, where he feeds the ducks with peas because bread is unhealthy for them. As an aspiring vet, he knows what is best for the animals.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: You can join Jake and his father to watch a law movie at the cinema as part of his father's effort to steer him away from his gangster life. Jake is less than appreciative at first, but he'll thank you at the end of his route for helping him realize that he's being reckless with "fighting crime" by being a gangster.
  • Babies Ever After: You and your high school romancenote  inevitably have a child or adopt one at the end of your journey, and they will be your character in your next run.
  • Bathroom Stall of Angst: A common occurrence in high school. Checking on your classmates crying in the bathroom helps you bond with them and also unlocks it as a location, where you can buy cheat sheets to gain Knowledge Points.
  • Black and Nerdy:
  • Bookends: Felicity's route begins and ends with her crying in the bathroom and the coach ordering the protagonist to look for her.
  • The Bully: Sam and Alicia both start off their respective routes by bullying you. You can choose to ignore their bullying, but you'll be locked out of the rest of their paths.
  • Bully Magnet: Several of the romanceable characters but Richard and Wendy especially. Richard is bullied often because of his shyness while Wendy gets picked on a lot because of her prosthetic arm.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • All the choices in the baby stage don't have much impact on the story, and neither do any of the choices in the adults' story arcs. For the latter, completing their routes always counts towards their achievements regardless of what you say.
    • Two in Alex's route:
      • She invites you to hang out at the mall with her. You can suggest hanging out at the movies instead, but she'll insist on going to the mall and take you there anyway, so the other option does not unlock the movie theater as the game would make you think. At least it unlocks the bowling alley as of the December 20, 2021 patch update.
      • She gets upset when "BTY" beats her high score in Space Sheep. She asks you what it stands for, but all of your possible answers are wrong because it actually stands for "Better Than You".
    • In Kato's route, he gets nervous when he invites his online friend and crush, SpellcasterRed, for a dinner date. You can tell him that "he's got this", or you can offer to wait nearby, but no matter your choice, he'll say that he can do it himself, so you wait for him outside instead. He clams up completely because of his social awkwardness in real life.
    • In Bobbie's route, she makes the protagonist guess whether the Science teacher will make them dissect frogs or fetal pigs. If the protagonist guesses "frogs", the teacher will remark that her students making fun of her froglike face is why she always makes them dissect fetal pigs.
  • Cerebus Retcon: If you talk about your expectations for high school with Alicia, she hopes that it'll be just like on TV, including the Very Special Episodes. You worry about that, not wanting a car crash in real life, but Alicia doesn't mind "soooome people" dying because she thinks they're lame. This Black Comedy moment turns bleak in high school when she's forced to volunteer at the hospital, and she starts feeling bad for the dying patients, realizing that not everyone is as well-to-do as her and her wealthy family.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: You can date your elementary or middle school friend and marry them in the epilogue if your sexual orientation is compatible and you developed your relationship with them well enough.
  • Coming-Out Story: Charles' route involves him coming to terms with his homosexuality and how it's affecting his political career in the student council. In high school, he comes out as gay to the protagonist when they catch him in crying in the bathroom after losing the elections. Then he comes over to their house to ask them for help in dealing with it because his sister caught him first and their father is homophobic. Thanks to the protagonist's support, Charles becomes brave enough to come out to his dad but still gets kicked out of the house, but he fights for LGBT+ rights in his good ending in the epilogue, looking to his sister for support (and also the protagonist if he marries him after years of on-again-off-again dating).
  • Company Cross References: One of the shops at North Pine Galleria's called "Oh...Sir", referencing one of Vile Monarch's other games. There's also an arcade cabinet named after that game in Starcade 80, and you even make another one if you become a game dev studio CEO in the end.
  • Curse Cut Short: When you notice Wendy walking home from school instead of taking the bus, she says that she doesn't want to sit next to "those bully mother..." just before you shush her.
  • Deal with the Devil: The "failure" animation for studying Contracts shows the protagonist's dealmaker turning into the Devil after they sign the contract.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: If you decide to go for a Gay Option with one of your classmates, the game will remind you that same-sex marriage was illegal in the US during the 90s since you're still stuck in that time period despite you and your partner becoming adults, but despite that, they'll still marry you. In fact, homophobia is a major plot point in Charles' route, where he struggles with his homosexuality because of his father's discrimination. In his good ending, Charles comes out to him but gets kicked out of the family, but he's actively fighting for LGBT+ rights with his sister (and you if you marry him as a boy).
  • Dialogue Tree: Part of game involves making the correct dialogue options to build your relationships with your classmates, with certain choices causing major impact on their lives in the epilogue.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: There are 42 possible careers you can get at the end of the game based on how many skills in a certain subject you've mastered, but some of them can only be achieved by getting C or lower in the SATs.
  • Double Unlock: In order to unlock a new skill, you first have to have enough of a certain stat, which is increased by collecting resources from the Brain Map, and then you have to buy the skill with Knowledge Points. You can reduce the cost of the skill by further increasing your stat that's associated with it.
  • Drama Club: Richard considers joining the drama club choir, but is extremely nervous about it because he's afraid of his voice cracking in public. Bobbie, on the other hand, is excited to take it up in middle and high school because she wants to be a Broadway actress. Wendy doesn't like it because she thinks it's boring, but if you take her to a Shakespeare play, she'll realize it's not so bad and thinks of joining the club in high school as an aspiring makeup and VFX artist.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Each of your classmates' introductory scenes establishes their personalities:
    • The tomboyish Alex is first seen playing with her boy classmate in elementary and inviting you to play superheroes or firefighters with them.
    • Alicia the Alpha Bitch is first seen bullying another girl for her loafers in middle school.
    • The boisterous Bobbie can be first seen singing loudly outside school in elementary.
    • Charles gets pompous on his first day of middle school by asking you to vote for him for class president, even if he's running unopposed.
    • When you're tasked in high school to find Felicity, you find her crying in the bathroom, dramatically complaining about how "fake" people are.
    • Jake's first scene in elementary has him trying to defend his friend Buddy from Mort's gang of bullies, hinting towards his stubborn desire to fight crime when he's older. This is further shown when he plays superheroes with you and Buddy.
    • The stoic and studious Kato prefers doing his first high school project by himself, needing a little prodding to convince him to work with you. He also leaves the computer on at the library, hinting towards his secret online life.
    • The aloof Nate begins his middle school years being dismissive towards you and burning the pages of his notebook, where he wrote his dark poem about his parents' breakup.
    • Richard starts out shyly playing the xylophone when you first meet him in elementary.
    • Sam the Jerk Jock establishes himself in high school by throwing an American football at you and laughing.
    • Wendy immediately gets conscious about her prosthetic arm in middle school, but gushes about her love for horror movies and hatred for schoolwork.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father:
    • Bobbie's father doesn't want her to take up acting because it's "girly" and people might make fun of her for being fat. He becomes accepting of her dream after her final act becomes a success with your support.
    • Wendy's parents try discouraging her from her dream to become a horror movie makeup and VFX artist in favor of pushing engineering like them. Depending on your choices, they'll either succeed in this, making Wendy work for the space agency, or wholeheartedly support her ambition after she successfully convinces them that she'd enjoy it more.
  • FBI Agent: One of the possible careers you can take is this, which you get if you get an A or B and specialize in police training.
  • Freshman Fears: Several characters tell you how nervous they are about starting high school, and you can agree with them or be more optimistic.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Regardless of the job you got in your previous run, your child in the next still lives in the same American suburb house.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Certain plot elements in your classmates' routes inexplicably become undone when you start a new generation.
      • Alex's good ending has her buying the Starcade and renaming it Alex's Arcade (or Space Sheep Arcade if you marry her), but it's still called Starcade the next time you unlock it.
      • In Alicia's good ending, the hospital she worked at gets shut down by her father, but it's still unlockable in your next run.
    • When Nate takes you to the animal sanctuary at the end of his route, it's described as an "unrecognizable" place, even if you unlocked it early by specializing in animal biology.
  • Gay Option: It's possible to date Vivica, Alicia, or Bobbie if you're a girl, and Richard, Nathan, or Charles if you're a boy, and if you don't end up with any of your classmates after graduating high school, your spouse can be the same gender as your character if you wish. Other love interests have romantic options open even if your character is the same gender as them, but they'll reject you because they don't feel that way towards you.
  • Golden Ending: Some of your classmates have more than one good ending in their routes, usually with one better than the rest:
    • Wendy's Golden Ending has her family wholeheartedly supporting her passion for makeup and special effects, even if they wanted her to take up engineering. She also gets the Red Carpet Movie Award for it.
    • Alicia's Golden Ending has her going to community college and becoming a registered nurse. Even if the hospital she worked at gets shut down by her fathernote , it doesn't stop her from helping patients because she fully realized that there are people less fortunate than her and her wealthy family.
  • Graduate from the Story: The main goal of the game is to graduate high school.
  • High School: A sizeable chunk of the game takes place during your character's high school years.
  • High-School Sweethearts: You can date your high school friend and marry them in the epilogue if your sexual orientation is compatible and you developed your relationship with them well enough.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In the description for the part-time coach assistant job, the protagonist says that they've always wanted to shout, "Drop and give me 20!"
  • I Let You Win: You can intentionally lose to Alex and Charles when playing at the arcade or bowling with them in their respective routes, but they'll dislike you for downplaying your skills and not giving them enough competition. The former will even ditch you and drop out of middle school if you deliberately lose to her too many times because she won't see you as a worthy rival.
  • In with the In Crowd: If you befriend Alicia, she'll invite you to her Girl Posse and go out shopping with you thanks to her dad's credit card. However, she starts drifting away from her clique in high school when she's forced to volunteer at the hospital after her parents' divorce.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Certain romance routes in are locked because the love interests have different sexual orientations that might not match up with yours. You can still try flirting with them or admit that you have a crush on them, which they'll turn down, but they'll be happy to remain best friends with you if you developed your relationship well enough. Sam, however, will straight-up reject you and not see you again if you try kissing him as a boy.
  • Insult Backfire: You can comment on how lewd Bobbie's final act was because she slapped her butt in front of the crowd, but she'll take it as a compliment. This can lead to a "no, you're cuter" match if you keep up with this flirting because you're smitten by her beauty.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: The protagonist describes being a part-time video game tester as the "BEST. GIG. EVER!"
  • Junior High: The middle school chapter of the game has you exploring more parts of the school and meeting new friends, and your elementary school friend will tag along if you successfully befriended them.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: If the protagonist confronts Sam for his bullying, he'll say that his victims can't take a joke, but they'll still call him out for it because according to them, it's just what bullies say when they mean to bully others.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Alicia and Felicity start off as Alpha Bitches, but if you make the right choices, they'll become nicer towards you and even become your friend/girlfriend.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Some locations are only unlocked in certain routes, such as the Sky Tower Observation Deck in Jake's route and the Alley Way in Charles' routenote . Since the classmates you'll meet are randomized with every playthrough and you can only meet three in one life cyclenote , you better hope you meet the one you want if you plan to learn the skills offered by these exclusive locations. Even then, you have to make the right dialogue choices to unlock them.
  • Missed Meal Aesop: In Felicity's route, the protagonist notices that she barely touches her food whenever she goes out to eat with them. She does this to maintain her slim figure for cheerleading, but the protagonist can call her out for it because she gets dizzy when she doesn't eat. They'll even bring up her ailing brother to warn her not to be in his position if she doesn't take care of herself.
  • Modern Stasis: Despite spanning 18 years, the setting is eternally stuck in The '90s since none of the characters get their hands on new technology.
  • Modular Epilogue: At the end of the 18-year cycle, the epilogue will reveal what happened to your classmates after your high school graduation based on the choices you made in their story paths. Your career will also be determined based on what kind of skills you learned and mastered along with your grade in the SATs. You will also marry one of your classmates if you reached their path's good ending by romancing them, or a generic NPC of either gender you choose or determine at random if you didn't.
  • New Game Plus: After completing one full life cycle from baby to high school graduation, you can play as the protagonist's child in the next run, keeping all the skills you unlocked in the previous generation. You still have to gather Attributes and Knowledge Points to learn and master them again, however.
  • New Year, Same Class: Several routes talk about the anxiety around being separated from your friends once you switch schools. You can agree with your classmates' worries about transferring or assure them that it won't be so scary, and if you befriended them, they'll stick with you in the same school.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Old:
    • One full play-through lasts 18 in-game years, where the protagonist grows up from a baby up until high school graduation, but the adults never age one bit. Since you play as the protagonist's child in the next run, it gets jarring when you encounter the same adults several generations down the line when they should've died many years ago. After all, the game is not called "Growing Old".
    • Zig-Zagged with the protagonist's classmates. The main character grows up with them and can marry one of them in the epilogue, but you'll inevitably meet the same classmates growing up with their child all over again in future generations, even Jake and Nathan since they die at the end of their routes (but only in the bad ending for Nate).
  • Passing Notes in Class: Bobbie loves to pass notes in class because she's forced to keep quiet, but you can call her out on this. You and Alex can also do this if you're dating/are best friends.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Some activities are only available in the early stages of the game and can't be accessed again when you move up a school level. You won't be able to add them to your schedule if you don't unlock them with Action Points first.
  • Present-Day Past: Despite the game being set in The '90s, there are a few anachronisms referencing contemporary history:
    • The school world map shows South Sudan, which didn't secede from Sudan until 2011.
    • The animation of the protagonist studying the Periodic Table shows elements 113-118 with their new symbolsnote , but they wouldn't be formally named until 2011 for elements 114 and 116 and 2016 for the rest.
  • Romance Sidequest: You can romance any of your classmates if you wish, as it's still possible to get their good endings by just remaining friends with them. Sam is an exception if you're a girl since you'll be locked into his bad ending if you reject his romantic advances at the park. However, you can still remain friends with him and get his good ending if you make the right dialogue choices after making out with him once.
  • School Is for Losers: Some of your classmates hate school and wish to drop out for their own dreams:
    • Alex lives in a carnival and wants to work there like her parents. In middle school, she lies to her mom that the field trip was one day earlier to get out of classes, and she wishes to drop out and become a carnie, which she does in her bad ending. Her mom reminds her that schooling can unlock new opportunities for her in the future, which she agrees if you've befriended her well enough. She ends up mysteriously disappearing in high school, but not to avoid doing homework, but because her rival Shane got into an accident from her dare and was hospitalized.
    • Wendy hates schoolwork and likes cutting classes to watch horror movies, and you can rebel with her if you wish. Doing so will further motivate her to continue studying. From there, you can help her with her homework and also invite her to a Shakespeare play to encourage her to study hard and follow her dreams of becoming a makeup and VFX artist.
  • School of No Studying: You can ignore school for the most part as long as you keep your parents reasonably proud of you.
  • School Play: Mentioned in a couple routes, particularly in Richard's, Bobbie's, and Wendy's routes. Richard considers joining the choir for it, Bobbie auditions for it as a step forward to her dream as a Broadway actress, while Wendy can be convinced to watch a Shakespeare play so she'll be more inspired to pursue makeup and VFX.
  • Senior Year Struggles: Most if not all routes hit their most dramatic points at around senior year of high school. With finals looming, this is your last chance to bond with your classmates before you inevitably part ways.
  • Shout-Out: Being a game that's set in The '90s, it's chock full of references to various works from that decade (and also from The '80s):
    • Some of the movie posters you see are reminiscent of Titanic (1997) (The Ship), The Lion King (1994) (The Lion Monarch), and The Little Mermaid (1989) (The Young Siren). The parody for Jurassic Park (Dino World) gets mentioned often in some routes: the protagonist sometimes watches it with their parents while Richard is a big fan of it.
    • Wendy often gets called "Captain Hook" by her bullies for her prosthetic arm, and the achievement you get for getting her good ending is called "Wendy Krueger".
    • One of the arcade machines in Starcade 80 is called Croakker.
    • The achievement for getting Vivica's good ending is called "Teen Spirit".
    • The protagonist's description for the activity "Reading Comics" is, "I wonder how arachnid-person will get out of this one!"
  • Sidequest: Once you enter elementary school, your parents will sometimes give you sidequests called Expectations, where you're given tasks such as performing a certain activity several times or raising a certain Attribute. You'll be rewarded Pride Points which you can spend on gifts, vacations, and special requests from your parents, but failing to complete Expectations within a certain number of turns will lower your parents' satisfaction.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: There are non-academic skills that you can learn, and going through their Skill Trees unlocks a side story for each of the adults that guide you in mastering those skills.
  • Skipping School: Done in several routes, particularly in Alex's and Wendy's routes. Wendy especially skips school frequently because she hates it, and you have to convince her to focus on her studies for her future.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Alicia and Felicity put on fake smiles due to the pressure they get from their parents and school, respectively. If you befriend them well enough, you'll realize that they have a lot more going on than just trying to be happy for happiness' sake.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • When the protagonist first meets his father, Charles remarks on how similar they look since they have the same hairstyle, which is his "least favorite" thing about himself.
    • When the protagonist first eats out with Felicity at the diner, her mother's talk show, Chatty Cathy, goes on air. They notice that Felicity looks just like her.
  • Take That!: The description for the subject "U.S. Government" says, "They take care of all of us... in theory."
  • The Talk: At one point, one of your parents sits down with you to discuss something important, but you can quickly assume that it's about that talk. However, they clarify that they'll remind you to pursue your passions and learn new skills.
  • Tech Tree: The skill system is like this, with some skills following a singular learning path and others branching out after learning the first few. You can only pick one path for skill trees that branch out, like choosing to specialize in fiction over journalism in the Creative Writing skill tree.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Whenever you perform a task in your schedule, a simplified version of your avatar is shown doing it. Female avatars will wear a ponytail regardless of their hairstyle.
  • Two-Teacher School: The only school personnel you see onscreen are the teacher and the coach, the latter who lets you take up sports as one of your careers.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The game is mostly a Visual Novel along with a resource-gathering/management game where you build your stats to unlock skills by collecting resources in the Brain Map, and then work on these skills by adding them to your schedule. But when it's time for exams, you work on your grade by playing a Match-Three Game where you remove groups of blocks of the same color.
  • Urine Trouble: If you master the "Playing With Animals" skill as a baby, your parents will get you a puppy. One of the ways to interact with it is letting it pee on you, to one of your parents' disappointment.
  • Video Game Delegation Penalty: You can skip the dialogue in conversations with your classmates, but unlike most games with skippable dialogue, doing so will randomize the choices instead of skipping straight to them. This risks a less-than-desirable outcome for your classmates in the long run.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • The only way to unlock the police station in Wendy's route is by cutting classes with her the second time she offers to take you to the movies. As the only other way to unlock it is in Vivica's route in high school, doing this in Wendy's lets you unlock it in middle school and thus give you more turns to pursue police or military training.
    • Reporting your classmate's bad behavior to the teacher locks you in their bad ending because they'll accuse you of ruining their "fun". You must resolve their issues yourself if you want to see their good ending.
  • Visual Pun: One of the subjects you can learn is "Birds and Bees", and the protagonist is shown trying to hook up a bird with a bee when studying it.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The mental health meter functions similarly to a hunger meter. It goes down every time you work or practice a skill, and if it drops below 20, you'll be overworked. You won't be able to learn new skills and two of your schedule slots will be removed. Your mental health can be replenished by eating in restaurants, passing exams, going on vacation for the rest of your turn, or entertaining yourself but at the cost of lowering your parents' satisfaction. Keeping your mental health above 70 will make you relaxed, which opens an additional schedule slot unless you have the maximum of eight.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In middle school, some of your classmates compare high school to how it's usually portrayed in TV shows, and you can agree or disagree with them. When they actually enter high school, however, they realize that it's nothing like on TV as they face the harshness of reality. This is true for Alicia and Jake, since the former's forced to volunteer for part-time hospital work while the latter develops a drug addiction and gets hurt in gang fights.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You have to spend Knowledge Points to learn basic skills such as crawling, walking, and talking and master them by putting them in your schedule in the baby stage, which serves as the tutorial for the game.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: The movie theater can be unlocked as early as in the elementary stage in Bobbie's route, but you can't learn cinematography skills or buy tickets until middle school.

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