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Filipino-made game ‘Fallen Tear: The Ascension’ dazzles with beautiful hand-drawn animation

Jessica Bonifacio

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Filipino-made game ‘Fallen Tear: The Ascension’ dazzles with beautiful hand-drawn animation


Images from CMD Studios

The game is a winner of the Global Play Showcase Award at the Game Developers Conference 2024, beating out entrants coming from countries such as Australia, Finland, Ghana, and Brazil

Hand-drawn Metroidvania meets epic JRPG in Manila-based CMD Studios’ debut title, Fallen Tear: The Ascension.

The game is certainly quite one to put in your radar, having become the first Filipino-made video game to clinch the Global Play Showcase Award, an international accolade from the Game Developers Conference given to promising titles in development.

The team, which previously worked on AAA titles and with world-class animation studios, says that they are “thrilled at the incredible news,” as they hope to inspire gaming communities both in the Philippines and abroad.

“It’s such an incredible game, coming from the Philippines, that it can stand head and shoulders with any of the other major Metroidvanias that exist out there in the world,” says Jun Shen Chia of ID@Xbox’s Global Expansion team.

Seeing clips of the game in action, CMD Studios’ experience in animation shines through. Check out the game in action:

Filipino-made game ‘Fallen Tear: The Ascension’ dazzles with beautiful hand-drawn animation

Fallen Tear: The Ascension follows the adventures of Hira, a mysterious boy with a forgotten past. His magical world, Raoah, is packed with puzzles, combat, and secret treasures. He can unleash devastating attacks both in his human form, and as a fearsome monster called Overgrowth.

Dangerous beasts and corrupt gods lurk in the lands of Raoah – and it is up to Hira to confront 150 enemies with individualized attack styles. To survive, the player is pushed to unlock skill trees and create diverse strategies.

Stephen Manalastas, head of CMD Studios, says that they aim to differentiate from combat-centric Metroidvania by emphasizing character development and storytelling. 

Unlike classic games in the genre, the towns in Fallen Tear: The Ascension are brimming with interaction, from NPCs to discoverable locations. The game’s 26 biomes harbor environmental hazards and obstacles that require both skill and wit to surmount. 

Hira is not alone on his journey. 

Joining him are Fated Bonds, which are recruitable allies with distinct powers, quests, and storylines. Once they’re on Hira’s team, the player can blend their abilities to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.

With dynamically-changing gameplay, the player’s decisions ultimately shape Hira’s destiny.

Beacon of the PH gaming community

Fallen Tear: The Ascension has been in development since 2020, and is set to be released in 2025.

Aside from the Global Play Showcase Award, the team has also won the Audience Choice Award in the Level Up KL Sea Game Awards back in 2021. They were recently featured in the Xbox Indie Showcase, the console brand’s spotlight on promising independent games.

“We want to see and hear more stories from the Philippines, and so it was vitally important that we wanted to support developers like Stephen and his team at CMD Studios,” says Jun Shen Chia. 

“The other real reason is that Fallen Tear is such an exciting game. It’s a Metroidvania that has a lot of things promised – [from] the open world that you can explore, to all the monsters you can fight.”

With enthusiastic support coming from ID@Xbox, Manalastas says that they are the first to do “this big” of a PH-based indie game.

“We would like to be the beacon of the Philippine gaming community,” says Nexus Borjal, user experience and tech artist. He wants to see through the game’s success to provide a sense of “Pinoy pride” to local gamers, an acknowledgment of the vast talent present in the country.

For Manalastas, the game aims to be “what gamers [from everywhere] want.” Even then, the team sprinkled some culture-inspired easter eggs for attentive Filipino gamers to discover.

“Southeast Asia’s development scene as a whole is comprised of so many different countries, and so naturally we think that there’s such a complexity of nuances and culture,” says Jun Shen Chia.  

“I think the biggest challenge that most developers face actually has less to do with conveying culture or stories, more so than it is any of the challenges that developers around the world face, which are things like awareness and marketing.”

Following the success of Xbox-supported games like Coral Island from Indonesia, Chia says that Southeast Asia has the talent, drive, and ambition to tell global stories while supporting one another.

“My sort of aspiration for the region is that with our combined talents, we can be the next great game development hub for original games, just like Japan and Korea.”

For CMD Studio’s Gabriel Cruz, publishing Fallen Tear: The Ascension will not only inspire other local game devs to create original works but also prompt producers to invest in Philippine game development.

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“Because, [I’m] not going to lie,” he says, “from story to game design to art, to programming, I think we have a lot of that covered here.

A demo of Fallen Tear: The Ascension is available on Steam. You may also support the game via its kickstarter page here. –

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