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Visual Novel / Coming Out On Top

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On the left (from left to right) are Penny, Ian, and Mark, with five of the main love interests on the right. In order from bottom to top: Amos, Alex, Phil, Brad, Jed.

A visual novel game by Obscura. The protagonist is Mark Matthews, an undergraduate student in Orlin, who is about to come out to his roommates and best friends. You get to play out the final semester of his senior year in college. There are five main guys that Mark can have a romance with. Each guy has their own route/story that the player can have Mark pursue, with a combined total of over 200 choices for the player to make.

It was released December 10th, 2014. The demo can be found here

Now has a Wiki, which is still a work in progress. And also on Steam.


This visual novel features examples of:

  • All Gays Are Promiscuous:
    • Every guy has an option for a sex scene early on in their route, and each of them is enthusiastic for it. However, with the exception of Jed, taking this early sex scene will actually ruin your chance to get their romantic ending, thus subverting the "all" in the title.
    • Deconstructed when Ian tries to play wingman for Mark at a gay bar and goes comically overboard in the name of finding just the right guy to the point where he and Mark are practically run out. When he justifies this by saying he knows Mark well enough to know he averts this trope, Mark becomes incredulous at the idea that there's absolutely no middle-ground between this and Can't Have Sex, Ever.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Averted if Mark wants the good endings in most of the routes.
    • Played straight with both Mark and Jed in Jed's route.
  • Art Shift: Typical of a visual novel/dating-sim. There are different artists for the sprite art and the CGs, which understandably causes this shift in art style.
  • Advertisement:
  • As You Know: Mark before his coming out, describing the close friendship between Ian, Penny and himself.
  • Author Filibuster: Your date with Jake will literally grind to a halt when the elevator you're on gets stuck. Jake will then go on a long, long speech about the virtues of polyamory and open relationships.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: At least with Alex and Graham.
  • Big Bad: Graham in Alex's route.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Beau is super protective of Brad.
  • Bland-Name Product: If Mark refuses to go to local gay bar after coming out to his roommates, Penny will ask him to watch a vampire action movie "Dusklight"...
  • Bookends: Mark told himself at the beginning of the game not to throw up before coming out to his roommates. If you get Ian's full ending, Mark will tell himself again not to throw up on his and Ian's wedding.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mark in the demo, whenever you are about to abort the story with a quick death bad ending.
    • Also in the game, when Mark tries to avoid coming out to Penny and Ian in the beginning.
    • The about part having Mark, Penny and Ian talk to the player and each other about the game.
  • Broken Pedestal: Edwina for Graham.
  • Catchphrase: Zoologists don't only clean cages!
  • Character Customization: A minor example. You can toggle beards and body hair for both Mark and his love interests. However, Phil, being in the military, will only grow his later in the story.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Campus Mapper was mentioned as Penny's earlier project that kept sending its beta tester into traffic. In Alex's route she used the app to locate where Edwina went.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Penny's cousins.
    • Penny and Ian also have their fair share of quirks.
    • Mark when you go to the weird route when dating Amos.
  • Coming-Out Story: Mark's. As well as Brad's and Ian's in their respective routes.
  • Condescending Compassion: Averted. The friends immediately act naturally around Mark. They start coddling him only when they think he is unhealthily obsessed with his professor or the secret romance partner.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Sort of. To reach the best ending of any route, you have to commit to one person and stop seeing any other guys.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mark is very sexually frustrated what with being in the closet for so long. Thus he has several options for this and even has a wet dream about his professor.
  • Deadpan Snarker: An option; Mark will also often snark in his scripted dialog.
  • Death by Irony: Despite being on his high school's water polo team, Mark can drown to death. See Non-Standard Game Over below.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Ian explaining how he means he didn't expect Mark being asked out so soon.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Poor Mark can get distracted in just about every route by all the hunks around him.
    • Some of those hunks will get distracted by Mark, too.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Alex strugglingly resists Mark for the sake of his career. Guess what will be about to ruin his career. Double twist: the charges aren't far from his feelings and desires.
    • Phil wants to swim-train with Mark because Mark is a strong, long-time swimmer. It's possible for Mark to drown.
  • Double Entendre:
    • The title.
    • "You can't imagine how hard it is to have you as my professor..."
    • Penny is good at these, when kidding with Mark.
  • Dream Sequence: A rather explicit one involving Alex, if Mark doesn't rebuff him.
    • Brad received one of these in a later update of his route.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Following Ian's seemingly-ridiculous advice on how to behave at the fundraising event is the only way to impress the wealthy donators, which is the only way to unlock Phil's route.
  • Embarrassing First Name:
    • If you introduce yourself as Philbert.
    • Penny's cousin/possible love interest is named Philbert, but he says that he goes by "Phil" now. At the end of his path, he lightens up and doesn't mind being called Philbert again.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Mark earned "the Spanish Armada" from his Water Polo days.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Graham's when he steps onto Mark's foot and berates him for standing in his way. Not to mention his raging in the phone, probably to Edwina.
    • The first time you meet Jed, he is stark naked.
    • The first time you meet Brad, he is passed out on his bedroom floor and surrounded by empty beer bottles.
    • The first time you meet Amos, he recites a Walt Whitman poem to scare a creep harassing Mark.
  • Fanservice: There are plenty of pics of hot shirtless guys here...
    • Sometimes these pics go far beyond shirtless...
  • Foreshadowing: The early conversation with Zoe about how much Ian likes toys, particularly dildos. Anyone who's missed the Word of God or Interface Spoiler about Ian being a potential love interest will probably be clued in by this.
  • Frameup
  • Freudian Trio: Can be with the conscientious Alex, the down-to-earth Ian, the dirty-minded Penny, and Mark struggling between them.
  • Gag Penis:
    • Brad is very well endowed, so much that Mark is both exited and panicked because of it during their intercourse, to the point of immediately showing Brad where his lube is, and telling him to use the whole bottle if he has to.
    • Your date with Tommy also has this.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Brad, the star quarterback for his college's top football team, is a romance interest for Mark, if you play your cards right.
  • Gayngst:
    • Two of the five routes involve homophobia.
    • Mark is hinted to have had plenty of it in the past, making the in-game acceptance even more heartwarming.
    • Averted by Ian, who initially freaks out about his feelings for Mark coming to light... but it turns out he's terrified of ruining their friendship, not of being with a man.
    • Averted by Brad. He's in the closet and lives in a typical frat environment, but he makes no attempt at denial and the challenge in romancing him centers around keeping his grades up while not angering his brother.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Can you code in assembly language? Have a seat, mister.
    • Just watch what happens when Mark wins the trivia contest in Phil's route.
  • The Generic Guy: The brown-haired, Straight Gay, average-named, Boy Next Door personality Mark, with typical problems given his situation, also the Only Sane Man in his crazy environment.
  • Good Is Not Nice: In Phil's route you have to make a young woman cry in order to stop her from running off with some guys at a club.
  • Good-Looking Privates: Phil is a Marine AND a love interest.
  • Group Hug: Mark, Ian and Penny when celebrating their graduation.
  • Gym Bunny: Working out is important to earn the crucial moments of Alex's route.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Mark, Ian and Penny are disturbed by a loud noise, of which Mark compares to a sonic boom and Penny and Ian to Godzilla being fisted by King Kong, which repeats a few times. You'll have the option to go deal with the issue yourself, starting your path with Jed, who'll be naked. Later on in the path the noise will appear again, twice, the first time leading to your friends sending you back to stop the noise and the second at Jed's concert where we learn it's his actually his keyboard making the noise. Still, that doesn't make the sudden, loud noise any less surprising when you first hear it.
  • Hidden Depths: Ian and Penny act crazy and flippant, but they prove to be deeply trustworthy and caring friends for Mark, even acting as his therapists when necessary.
  • Hunks: This IS a gay dating sim, after all! And what a variety you get!
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Alex showing his bruise shirtless in the locker room.
  • Incompatible Orientation: The game provides a few scenes of girls trying to hook up with men they can never have.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • Ian is ostensibly straight when first introduced, but he's also grouped in with the other love interests on the title screen during earlier versions. He's grouped with Mark and Penny when Amos is available.
    • The secret joke romance is also on the title screen.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Can happen in Phil's route if Mark wins the trivia contest and has sex with Phil on the couch.
  • Intimate Healing: Watch how fast Alex recovers from his crippling bruise after being touched by Mark.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Penny, Ian, and Mark all live together in the same apartment.
  • Jerkass: Graham and Phil's fellow marines.
  • Kick the Dog: At the first time we see Graham, he steps onto Mark's foot and scolds him for standing in his way.
  • Lemony Narrator: In a hilarious fashion. In Jed's route, during his competition, a fight between a rich elderly couple and Jed's bandmates escalates and breaks out among the crowd...
    Narrator: Everybody calms the fuck down.
  • Literal-Minded:
    How can I be on two places at one time? How do you mean I should research cloning techniques? How do you mean calm down, it's only a joke?!
  • Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: Jed lives in the apartment above Mark, so pursuing Jed could be considered this.
  • Lover and Beloved: Alex and Mark in Alex's route. Moreover, he is Mark's professor.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Graham behind Edwina.
  • Manly Gay: Alex, especially at sports. And he doesn't like camp cocktails.
  • The Matchmaker: Penny loves forcing her cousins (or online dating sites) onto Mark.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Mark... does not make a good first impression with Phil thanks to this.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: If you choose Mark to confesses to Amos —after Amos admits that he's into erotic wrestling— that he loves canned meat, Amos will immediately break up with Mark.
  • Modular Epilogue: You always get some, especially if you managed to get a Good Ending.
  • Multiple Endings: There are multiple endings for each of the five routes, with multiple variations within those endings. Hell, there are even multiple endings for the joke secret route.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Amos' route, which has four different endings depending on your behavior with him (romantic, sexual, weird, or mean).
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Edwina when Mark confronts her.
    • Alex has a my god, what am I doing moment.
  • Naked First Impression: Jed on both Penny and Mark.
  • No Fair Cheating: At least the game makes it complicated to derail the standard flow of the story.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Normally, if you trigger a death flag that ends a route or relationship, the game just continues on to the end of the semester, so that you will at least get some sort of ending. But there are several exceptions:
    • In Jed's route, if you say "fuck the police" after getting arrested, the police will kill you.
    • In Brad's route, attempting to intimidate Roman when he greets you gives a game over after he punches you.
    • Also in Brad's route, trying to expose the Daisy's "tutoring" operation leads someone dressed as the school mascot, Otto, to murder you.
    • In Phil's route, if you refuse to cooperate during a particular hallucination, you will drown.
    • On the Brofinder date with Jake, jumping up and down in the elevator leads to your death.
    • In the secret romance route, if you do things 'wrong,' the secret romance partner will show up at your door and shoot you dead.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Mark is not a piece of meat. Until hearing about Philbert's body tempts him as much as his personality can't.
    • Also this:
    Edwina: What have I become? Spying and taking picture of shirtless guys...
    You shot a glance at Penny.
  • Not What It Looks Like: The photo, as a proof of romantic student/professor relations. Though Graham's former attempt to accuse Alex was called off for insufficient evidence, this time a mere suggestion of the picture is treated as a proof.
  • Old Maid: Subverted. Alex is mentioned to be older than Mark several times, but it doesn't make him less attractive. You can turn him down saying he is too old for you, though.
  • Only Sane Man: Mark with his crazy roommates.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: With Jed, right during his introduction.
  • Peerless Love Interest: Ian and Penny deem Alex to be this for Mark.
  • Private Tutor: Mark is hired as one for Brad, who is failing his literature class. He also teaches ESL kids, and can do so during the weekends for extra cash.
  • Refusal of the Call: You HAVE to come out to your friends in the beginning, otherwise the game won't proceed. Mark will personally take the player off to the side and berate them for not letting him get on with his life.
  • Relationship Values:
    • Alex: Displaying maturity, kindness, confidence, keeping fit, keeping up with him at raquetball, even ordering the right kind of drink at the bar visibly raises Alex' sympathy and interest in you.
    • Brad: If you want his good ending, you cannot help him cheat.
    • Don't rush things with Phil or Ian in their routes.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Save Alex's career to have him.
    • Depending on your choices, Phil's path involves him saving Mark from drowning.
    • Convince Jed's band to keep together and not sell-out to win him over.
    • For Brad's happy ending, you have to help him pass his English class and finish his essays.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Ian and Zoe, until the beginning of the game.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Ian and Mark receive this in Ian's good ending.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Mark can play this straight when meeting Brad, refusing to write his papers for him. On the other hand, he can also say "Screw the rules, I want money!"
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mark can pull this at several occasions, possibly missing out on some love interests as he does so.
  • Second-Person Narration
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • You can do this to Alex by tempting him to a secret affair.
    • It is impossible to get the "good" endings for some of the character routes if you sleep with them too early on.
    • Whether or not Mark chooses to help Brad cheat in his English class will determine Brad's ending.
  • Shirtless Scene: All over the place.
  • Shown Their Work: Phil mentions that Recon selection starts with a brutal swim test many candidates flunk out of immediately, which is accurate. His path involves joining him on the swim-training he's doing to prepare for it.
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: Alex is on the world class level (looks like an underwear model).
  • Smug Snake: Graham. He can't even comprehend that Mark is able to ruin his career.
  • Stalker with a Crush: It feels a little uncomfortable to make Mark push Alex's boundaries, ignore his repeated, clearer than clear no, never, ever and still ask for some more closure, and sometimes being intrusively helpful to get a happy ending. Not to mention his pathetic obsession throughout the semester. Alex sneaking up behind Mark at the bar, while Mark was visibly avoiding eye contact with anyone, didn't come out well either.
    • Intrusiveness, which often makes a character antipathic even if done with the best intentions, is often rewarded with the good endings. Like harassing Jed's bandmates to take him back or showing up at Zoe's doorstep, or Mark showing up at Brad's doorstep to make sure Brad writes his essay.
  • Stalker Without a Crush:
    • Edwina.
    • Ian and Penny have a hobby stalking device.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Optional in Alex's route.
  • This Is Reality: After you try to hit Phil's bullies: ''Life is not a video game, kid.
  • Too Much Information: Mark's dream for Ian.
  • Transparent Closet: One of the homophobic Marines that Mark has to deal with in Phil's path is obviously gay. He can be called out on how vividly, erotically detailed his "you're such a sicko I bet you're imagining having sex with me right now" insults are.
  • True Companions: Penny and Ian, for Mark.
  • Token Minority: Phil is black, Jed is Asian.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: In almost every route.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Self-love.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Edwina.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Penny, Ian and Mark, mutually.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ian frequently has his shirt off at home.
    • Jed. Just... Jed.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Alex admits he is naive and unfit for political stratagems.
  • Wine Is Classy: You get a few extra Alex relationship points for ordering wine in the bar. And Alex likes maturity. Though he approves of whiskey more.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: You have the option to go to Charlie's, the only gay bar in Orlin, twice. First with Penny inviting you to celebrate on coming out and where you'll meet Alex, and second with Ian acting as your wingman and where you'll meet Amos.
  • Where in the World is Orlin?: Given with Mark's ringtone, the beach background in some routes, and the liberal climate, it could be somewhere in southern California.
  • You Are What You Hate: See Transparent Closet above. It's also implied the other homophobic Marine may be the same.
  • Your Mom: Mark's riposte to Ian's prying, corrected to "your dad".


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