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S.EXE: Coming Out On Top (NSFW)

Hunkmas

Featured post Today I am enjoying screenshots

RPS, I have been having a good time. An extremely good time. I mean a good time in every way: A new gay dating sim has snuck into existence, it is called Coming Out On Top, and it is funny, sexy, nervewracking, tense, charming… and it has fully naked, good-looking dudes in it. Who kiss each other! And do other hot 18+ things. Also there is a goldfish who keeps talking to you. The goldfish is a little overbearing. But we can get past the goldfish.

Tune in after the jump to read about a full release of the gay dude dating sim Coming Out On Top.

I uh, customised the name of my character

It occurs to me, as my character is in the middle of a quite graphic fantasy about being ‘examined’ by a hot blonde anatomy professor, that this is the first time I’ve played a game where someone has touched someone else’s dick. I mean, not just touching a dick. Touching a dick with enthusiasm.

Lamentably, there aren’t many good dicks in games. You don’t even get to see a brutally hot guy like Geralt’s dick. You don’t get to see Sam Fisher’s dick. I’d be a lot into seeing Kyle Hyde from Hotel Dusk’s dick, rendered in grayscale silhouette, but no. Hotel Dusk is for ‘children’ or whatever. Fine.

I am really enjoying screenshots today wow

The last time I saw a decent dick in a game I think it was that Skyrim dick mod I wrote about, and those were just dicks for show. No one could touch those dicks. They were just museum dicks. And I guess there’s also Sepe’s Cumshot, the infamous and really quite charming masturbation browser game, which although it does require you to stroke Sepe to the proverbial, it’s via a disembodied hand that isn’t attached to anyone but your cursor. It’s a detached, absurd experience. And there’s also Anna Anthropy’s Sex Cops Of Tickle City, but the dick is in text, which though it’s a pretty powerful and fairly erotic experience to play through, sometimes you just want to look at a person touching a dick.

In Coming Out On Top: bam. A hot guy touching another hot guy’s dick. And they look like they’re having a good time. In fact there are five different dicks you can choose from.

Image editing has never been so fun

But Coming Out On Top has many virtues and it’s not just super hot dick illustrations (and they are, by the way, pretty magnificent, towering things of variety). The primary virtue of this Ren’Py based visual novel is that it managed on several occasions to make me nervous, make me feel awkward, shy, make me blush or feel even fairly turned on, and it is obvious at every turn that this was the intended effect on the player.

The very first thing you are asked to do is make a decision on how to come out to your flatmates. Given that the game is called ‘Coming Out On Top’ I should have expected it to be a ‘coming out’ story of a sort, but asked by dialogue options exactly how and when to do it filled me with fear and reticence (experiencing it virtually and not having to consider it in real life being a huge privilege of my heterosexuality of course). Once over that hurdle, the narrative strands deftly put the player in many moral quandaries, many of which I am familiar with: romantic feelings for a professor, a drunk friend kisses you, men with violent tendencies confront you in a club. The writing is so funny and so charming these situations often crept up on me, and with them came emotions that I am completely unused to exercising whilst playing a game.

Hurr

The source of these so-called player ’emotions’, (yo, what are they?) come from the way the narrative is structured and paced. Come on to a character too soon and you will ruin your chances of dating them. But let it play out, slowly, agonisingly, over a number of days, and over a number of platonic activities and chaste dates, the more you urge your character on the hotter the trysts seem when they arrive. The decisions are written so that it is very obvious when they matter. When one of the characters got drunk and tried to make out with me in my room, the options appear: Do you take advantage of him when he can’t consent? Do you let him sleep it off in your bed beside you? Do you try to send him away, risking breaking his heart – or worse, that he won’t remember it happened? You sit there, paralysed by how much you want these two hotties to do the bad thing with each other, but trying to surmise the absolute hottest way it could happen. It’s exciting to play.

The sex scenes are, at least to my eye, hot and extremely graphic. It’s very difficult to make anything about a game even approach erotic, especially concerning the kinds of characters you usually get in video games: Unrealistically proportioned people, doing unrealistically outlandish positions, in a sort of clumsy mechanical manner. Sex scenes in this game are usually one still that the camera pans over, whilst the text adds… flavour. This is probably the best way to do it, since using text to evoke the player’s idea of eroticism was always the best way to have them actively participate. In my current incarnation as heterosexual-inclined woman I accept I am no expert on what men want from a game like this, but I think it’s tasteful, has a diverse choice of men (although yeah the main character is some bland-yet-goofy-funny white guy) and it really has a charming sense of humour about itself.

It’s the sense of humour that really clinches it for me. I pretty much laughed all the way through at every Joss Whedonesque joke, of which there are many, and they’re excellently timed too. It’s one of the best written romcom scripts in a game that I’ve played, and that includes any 90s-era adventure game. I can imagine me and my university friends making these jokes, and it makes a lot of the romantic discourse very knowing and flirty. I have never played a game where I could have said, ‘yeah, he’s funny, I’d go home with him’ before, but this game has that guy. These guys have got game.

More guys should do press-ups around me, I have decided

There are two jokes that made me feel a little odd: once, when there’s a ‘surprise anal’ joke, which I probably would have made in my university years too but now I feel differently about, and there’s another joke about a kite in the shape of an aborted foetus which, again, I probably would have made before I ever had a pregnancy scare. But the narrative approaches its moral responsibilities thoughtfully on the whole – there’s careful talk and show of condom use, the narrative choices show concern for issues of consent (that make the player actively consider it), there are some difficult choices to be made as to how to deal with homophobes. There’s even an attempt to address racial issues, though mostly by revealing the main character to be a painfully awkward white goofball.

Above all it seems like a safe space in which to fantasise. And I think that’s what you’d want most from a game like this: a place where you feel empowered, a place where there is a noted absence of much of real world narrow-mindedness and bigotry. This is a space in which you can pursue a guy, focus just on him without distraction, feel enjoyable angst about the romantic tension. It’s a pretty charming world in which to exist for a few hours and to look at some abs or some dude put his lips on an appendage. If you so wish, you can choose to toggle each of the men’s beards and body hair on or off. You choose.

By far my favourite storyline involved the most angst, and if you are even familiar with my work you will not be surprised by this. There’s some very Dawson’s Creek material in there that might surprise you with how well it’s written, and it strummed some very familiar pain too. None of the narrative seems rushed or unnecessary.

Although, come to think of it. There is… There is something I’m forgetting.

Ah yes. You have a pet goldfish.

Sometimes goldfishes want to love hot men too

As you can see, the goldfish is somewhat keen.

I think Coming Out On Top is one of the best, if not the best game I’ve covered on S.EXE, simply because it’s so robustly made, so replayable, surprising and so full of wit and the art is so tastefully hot. Most of the times I replayed I didn’t even use the ‘skip’ button for the text, just because it’s so effervescently written.

You can get Coming Out On Top here, which is discounted with the code from Obscurasoft’s site until December 31st. It’s on both PC and Mac.

The previous S.EXE columns are here. I’ll be back after the hols. Have a very merry Christmas, and a super excellent Hogmanay, RPS. Oh, and merry hunkmas too.

P.S. If you were paying attention lately you might have noticed some rather harsh laws have come into effect with regard to UK porn regulation. To show that games are capable of satire, my friend Holly Gramazio has developed an interesting free puzzlescript game that’s about interrogating the absolute absurdity of the new UK porn laws. I laughed out loud at this part:

IT IS FORBIDDEN

You can play it here if you’re interested in learning more about these weird laws.

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Who am I?

Cara Ellison

Contributor

Senior Scottish Correspondent, often known as the Notorious C A E, though mostly by her mum

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