The Philippines has a great community of game studios and indie developers who are keen on taking the Southeast Asian gaming industry to the next level. While the region has been on fire with game releases, Filipino developers have been stepping up to the challenge, hard at work on their own games. Several studios have flexed their game design and development capabilities in demos, and it looks like we’ll see a new wave of indie games on the horizon of 2021 and beyond!
Combatron: Project Phoenix by Caotic Pixel Studios (PC, PS4, Switch, Android, iOS)
Caotic Pixel Studios, a multimedia production team based out of Batangas, releases NES and SNES inspired action-adventure games. Just earlier in 2020, they launched their latest Indiegogo campaign for Combatron: Project Phoenix. Based on the eponymous Filipino comic book icon from the 90s, Caotic Pixel wants to make history by developing the first official video game of a local IP.
Having reached their campaign goal and beyond, we’re excited to see how the popular character will get the video game treatment. True to nostalgic form, the gameplay is inspired by beat ‘em up hits like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage. With thousands of Filipino fans at the ready to play their childhood hero, Combatron lives on in a new digital age thanks to this upcoming game. The game will be released on PC (Steam) on February, 28 , with plans for ports to PS4, Switch, Android, and iOS.
Fighting Pride: The Manny Pacquiao Saga by OMG Inc. and Ranida Games (Mobile)
Fighting Pride isn’t your regular fighting game – it’s also a biography and a time machine, among others, set in a stylish 2.5D beat ‘em up style. Starring the Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, fans and gamers alike will have the chance to play through his life and career in the game’s Story Mode. The storyline, featuring Pacquiao’s rise from poverty onto the world stage, is a product of in-depth interviews with the international sports star.
Aside from the campaign, players can also engage in Historical Mode, which highlights the biggest fights of Pacquiao’s career, and Online PvP Mode, where players can challenge friends using various versions of Pacquiao in his boxing journey. The game is being co-developed by OMG Inc. and Ranida Games and is scheduled for an early 2021 free-to-download release on mobile platforms.
Good Knight by DoubleThink Games (PC)
Good Knight reimagines Dante’s Inferno blended with Philippine horror, a grim place where you find yourself among horrific demons and their swarms of bullets. The game marries the most iconic and beloved parts of favorites like the puzzle-action of Super Hexagon and the bullet hell antics of Touhou Project. It claims to be the first orbital-arena shooter, made even more unique with Filipino mythology and a heavy metal soundtrack to complete the aesthetic.
This ambitious, multi-hyphenate project has already garnered attention from various websites and platforms. Good Knight’s brand of butt-clenching action is coming soon after two years of development, and previously had a release date of Q4 2020. The team has consistently been updating its fans on the game’s progress via their Facebook page.
Himig by OnionBlaze (PC)
Arwyn Silva or Onionblaze creates “calm video games,” which feature cute characters and gentle mechanics, offering a different kind of gaming experience. The anticipated upcoming game in their portfolio is Himig, a slice-of-life simulator focusing on the good old days of childhood as a Filipino student. It’s part of the “slow gaming” movement, that features the mundane in life, rather than the frantic action of most titles. Himig offers respite in the calm moments in everyday life, packaged in digital form.
Current snapshots of the game already have a way of driving the nostalgia up to one hundred, with the 3D environments perfectly capturing the grade school experience and soft, saccharine sweet art style promises a wholesome trip down memory lane. The game was originally slated for a 2020 release; however, no news has come out for a final launch date. Onionblaze has updates on Patreon and Twitter.
Jack Axe by Keybol Games (PC, Switch)
Keybol Games has built up an impressive portfolio of games and is adding in the pixel open-world platformer Jack Axe. The story features a unique fusion of Norse and Filipino myth, featuring a female protagonist (Jack) and her mighty weapon (an axe). She’s out to prove that she can smash through that glass ceiling and take on a man’s job. Jack Axe also sports a multiplayer functionality the shares in the axe-throwing fun with your friends.
Pixel indie action games have been on the rise, and current demos promise vibrant art and smooth platforming movement and combat. There’s no announced release date as of yet, but it’ll be out on Switch as soon as it’s “shiny and polished” – Keybol shares updates on their Facebook page.
Project Xandata by Secret 6
Competitive multiplayer shooters were the lifeblood of Filipino internet cafés, so it’s great to see one developed by a Filipino studio. Secret 6 is one of the most renowned studios in the Philippines, and Project Xandata’s demos show off an exciting level of quality and polish. The 3v3 gameplay, plus a variety of weapons, classes, maps, and game modes hope to give FPS fans a breath of fresh air in this niche. Just this December 2020, the developers are hosting a beta test on G.Round, open to the international audience.
Inspired by first-person shooters like Doom, Quake, and Halo and character design influenced by the Mega Man series, this is a highly anticipated title that has been impressing audiences since 2016. In 2020, the entire game was re-evaluated and is tuned for a better launch. They update their progress on their dedicated website.
Until Then by Polychroma Games (PC, Switch)
Take a philosophical slice-of-life adventure in contemporary Manila in the shoes of a regular kid in Until Then. You’ll navigate the world with your handy smartphone, and see the world of social connections through the eyes of young Mark. Polychroma Games dropped a trailer featuring a vibrant and detailed pixel art landscape, made complete with a chill soundtrack and a pensive narrative.
The developers have flexed their narrative style and game-making capabilities in titles such as Seen and Let’s Go There and Wander Nowhere, so Until Then is looking to be a great addition to the world of reflective slow gaming. There’s no release date yet, but updates are available on their website and Twitter.
Edge of Time: Rise of the Aeus by GILATOR (PC)
GILATOR, the Filipino indie dev team behind the Pacifica Online MMORPG, is working on the 3D action-adventure game Edge of Time, with Episode 1: Rise of the Aeus in Early Access. You play through the missions of three individuals and defeat the immortals taking over the world. A dark suspenseful thriller with mythological elements, Edge of Time has combat and puzzle elements that will challenge your inner covert operative and detective.
The fully-voiced narrative, isometric layout, and stylish graphics come together in a great-looking game. Development is in steady progress and is at 40% completion as of June 2020. The game is slated to release by January 2021, with updates available on their Steam page.
Highway Blade by Digikatt Studios (Mobile)
Highway Blade is shaping up to be an interesting pixel action-racing game for mobile. Digikatt Studio’s pixel artists have been producing beautiful sprites and gameplay previews. The protagonist, Axel, is a sword-wielding biker who has been rendered in the pixel art program Aseprite wonderfully, giving us a taste of the style of the game.
Highway Blade has been in development since 2018. There’s no update on a release date, but they have been posting updates on their Facebook page.
Pollie Potts by Of Dragon Science (PC, Linux)
Pollie Potts is a 2D action-platformer game following the adventures of Pollie, an android sporting a potato cannon. The demo showed interesting shooter mechanics and puzzle beats throughout the maps. Development also revealed more mechanics to make it a fleshed-out Metroidvania-style game.
Knocked Down by Keybol Games (Mobile, Switch, PC)
Another entry from Keybol Games on the list, Knocked Down is an online multiplayer arena, where players called “bashers” throw arena items at each other for supremacy. Several gameplay clips have surfaced on the studio’s Twitter page. A variety of colorful characters and maps show a fun variety of things you’ll be able to throw at your friends for fun. And yes – it looks like you can throw fellow players on the map!
Their latest update was in August 2020, following some sneak peeks at development throughout the pandemic lockdown. There’s no announced release date yet, but the game is updated on its own Twitter page.
Perfect Gold by Yangyang Mobile (PC, Mobile)
Following the success of The Letter and Love Esquire, Yangyang Mobile delves into a new game and genre. Perfect gold is a coming-of-age yuri visual novel with a high fantasy setting and a choice-driven narrative. The game is set to run shorter than their previous offerings, but still features their signature vibrant anime art, a fleshed-out story, and a professional voice cast for their entire cast of characters.
Yangyang Mobile’s visual novel development has been tried and tested, and fans already look forward to the next installment in their portfolio. In fact, the game has been successfully funded in its Kickstarter campaign, earning double of their original goal. Perfect Gold is slated to come out in March 2021 on PC and will become available later on mobile.
Lawmage Academy by Verinius (PC, Mac)
What do you get when you put together the fantastical story of Harry Potter and the RPG favorites Mana Khemia and Octopath Traveler? Lawmage Academy aims to deliver a high fantasy RPG with character development and turn-based combat elements. You get to explore your school, Magusgaia, and delve into a number of activities within the campus with a focus on narrative choices and experience. This is Verinius’ first video game and is being developed with RPG Maker – where a number of hit independent games have come from.
The pixel sprites, backgrounds, and illustrated character portraits point to a high-quality product that is gaining excitement as the game is being developed. This game is a special mention on our list, given that the game got a new, refreshed demo in Halloween 2020, but has an expected release date in 2022.
In 2020, we’ve seen some of the studios above re-evaluate and improve their projects through the pandemic lockdown, and some development timelines have been affected. Despite this, the Philippine indie game scene continues to grow and there are more game designers, developers, visual and sound artists eager to work together to create their own titles. With the Philippines as a hotbed of creative and technical talent, we look forward to what the country can debut in 2021 and beyond!
Which Filipino game are you looking forward to next year? Are there any other games seeing a release soon? Share your favorites or leave a comment!