20 Canadian made video games you must play during quarantine

Apr 24 2020, 11:24 am

As Canadian provinces continue to extend their stay-at-home orders, many are turning to  video games to find levity, entertainment, and detachment.

Canada is home to some of the most prolific video game developers the world over.

Whether you’re a console gamer, someone who prefers mobile games, a PC aficionado, or you have access to the recently released library on Apple Arcade, we’ve got a list of all the Canadian-made video games that are sure to quench your thirst for adventure.

Console

Gears 5

What once acted as Microsoft’s biggest internal studio now sits independently as The Coalition in Vancouver, BC. It’s a fierce developer continuing their legacy in the Gears of War series, exclusive to Xbox.

Gears 5 may have dropped the “of War” in the title, but this latest edition doesn’t shy away from tradition. It’s the largest world Gears has ever featured, and the most touching story ever penned by The Coalition.

Available on Xbox One.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Many gamers don’t know that the Luigi’s Mansion games have been made in Vancouver, and that’s because Next Level Games isn’t really brazen with their promotion. Having an in at major global publisher, Nintendo has become the soul of this quirky group on the west coast, so perhaps there’s little need to advertise your company when one of the largest brands on earth will prop up your game for you.

The third game in the Luigi’s Mansion series features one of the coolest locations ever to appear in a video game. The mansion itself is a multi-floored adventure, with meticulously designed themes for floors, puzzles, and of course Luigi’s signature ghost-busting vacuum cleaner.

Available on the Nintendo Switch.

Below

Capybara Games is one of the most fantastic indie game studios in the industry, and they call Toronto home. With amazing games like Clash of Heroes, Super Time Force, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery under their belts, it was their Souls-inspired rogue-like Below that put them on the map in a big way.

Possibly one of the best launch-exclusive games, the partnership between Xbox and Capybara shone a spotlight on this indie title and allowed it to flourish in all of it’s difficult, mysterious, and gorgeous glory. Now that the exclusivity deal is spent, you can play Below by Capybara games on many different platforms.

Available on Xbox One and Playstation 4.

The Messenger

Montreal-based Sabotage studios have made headlines lately with their wildly successful Sea of Stars Kickstarter fundraising campaign, but it was their throwback to a fond age of gaming with their beloved The Messenger that cemented this team as a formidable indie game maker.

Following in the footsteps of Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden, The Messenger brought a retro feel to the modern age, and transformed the space of gaming in 2018. This side-scrolling, time-travelling adventure in patience and practice is a must-play for gamers who want a bit of a challenge with a whole mountain of nostalgia.

Available on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4.

Celeste

Made by a remote collection of Canadians, mainly located in and around Vancouver, BC, the team that joined Matt Thorson at MattMakesGames helped make one of the best indie games of all time.

Celeste is a trial by fire. A true test of courage, Celeste takes off on a journey to overcome anxiety, self-doubt, panic attacks, and forgiveness, all disguised as the battle to climb a mountain. Celeste features one of the most fabulous soundtracks in gaming history, and will make a gigantic impact on anyone who braves the adventure.

Available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

PC

Darkest Dungeon

Vancouver-born Red Hook Studios made waves in the indie scene in 2015 when they released their brutally difficult turn-based squad-builder Darkest Dungeon. Since the official launch, the team has added multiple gigantic expansions.

In Darkest Dungeon, you take control of an old town, and are tasked with collecting, grooming, and managing inbound adventurers as you clear dungeons and traverse the story. Darkest Dungeon made a splash due to its nearly impenetrable level of difficulty and horrifying atmosphere.

Available on Steam.

The Long Dark

Another team from Western Canada, Hinterland first raised attention to itself by running an extremely successful and thought-provoking early-access period to their survival game The Long Dark.

Their flagship title, The Long Dark now includes a fully fleshed-out story delivered in chapters through gut-wrenching wilderness horror. An interesting art style, mixed with intense survival mechanics, prop up The Long Dark into near mythical status. Can you survive the wild world of the great white north?

Available on Steam.

Cuphead

Toronto’s Studio MDHR easily made a name for itself with its extremely popular breakout title, Cuphead. The small team put together one of the most memorable video game experiences to launch exclusively on the Microsoft Xbox One, and Windows PC.

Now, available on the Nintendo Switch as well, Cuphead has become a cult classic, posing a monstrously demanding side-scrolling shooter experience. While the gameplay is drenched with nostalgic vibes, it’s the art style (inspired by rubber hose animation) that vaulted this game into end-of-year award talks.

Available on Steam.

Industries of Titans

Brace Yourself Games is quickly becoming a front runner in Vancouver game development. After their wickedly wonderful Crypt of the Necrodancer and its genre-bending Zelda spin-off Cadence of Hyrule, BYG has all of the trust in the world as it approaches the launch of their latest indie darling.

Industries of Titans is the cyberpunk futuristic city builder (e.g., SimCity) game that no one asked for, but everyone is going to fall in love with it. The pedigree the team has earned means your bound to fall in love with the subtle polish of Titan’s mechanics, the atmosphere built by the art and soundtrack, and a new take on strategic ship combat.

Available on Steam and Epic Games.

Session

crea-ture Studios is an independent indie studio in Montreal, where skateboarding remains one of the most popular extreme sports. With their flagship game, crea-ture sought to bring tightly designed sports simulators back to the world of skateboarding.

Session is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Skateboarding enthusiasts have been clamouring for another simulation game since EA Games stopped making their Skate series. Now, with the full weight of a talented indie team, Session is lining up to grind its way into the history books as one of the most fleshed-out skateboarding games ever made.

Available on Steam.

Mobile

Alto’s Odyssey

Built by Snowman is one of the most successful mobile game developers to come out of Canada since the market truly took off less than a decade ago. Since the release of Alto games, Snowman has built on that legacy, by sticking with intriguing puzzle mechanics mixed with stunning and varied art styles.

It’s almost impossible to describe the vibes of the Alto games, but if you can picture the sound of a smooth snowboard sliding over freshly powdered snow, then you can find the whimsical experience of this game. Travel down mountains collecting pick-ups in a timed mode, or adventure into pure zen with Alto’s “zen mode” for pure relaxation.

Available on iOS and Android.

Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money

If you didn’t know of Vancouver’s East Side Games from their years of developing green-friendly farming fun in Pot Farm, you probably know them now. Since launching their first-ever IP-related mobile game in 2018, the West Coast wonders have gone on to cement themselves as a powerhouse for handling intellectual properties.

Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money is a mobile idle game where you can upgrade your trailer park with all of the best schemes from the wildly popular Canadian television show. With plenty of character cards to unlock, and installations to advance, TPB is a treasure trove of quirky nods to some of the most famous fake Canadians of all time.

Available on iOS and Android.

Severed

Drinkbox Studios first found the tips of gamer’s tongues with their hilariously character-driven luchador-themed side-scroller, Guacamelee. However, it’s the mobile port of their first-person ethereal puzzle game, Severed, that finds them on this list.

With a beautiful story of betrayal, family, loss, and love, mixing flawlessly with one of our favourite art styles of all time, Severed is a must-play for gamers of all ages. Intuitive touch controls and swiping mechanics bring this fabulous indie game to life on your smartphone.

Available on iOS.

The GO Trilogy

Square Enix is known for some of the biggest games to come to any platform (e.g., Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts), but it’s their feisty Montreal studio that turned their popular franchises into smash-hit mobile puzzle games.

The GO series features titles in the Deus Ex, Tomb Raider, and Hitman series as gamers use turn-based movements to solve puzzles and uncover some of the best storytelling adventures on the platform.

Available on iOS and Android.

Shop Titans

Kabam is another big name in the world of mobile video games. However, their purchase of Smoking Barrel, merging the studio into Kabam Vancouver, has led to some of their most profitable and exciting games.

Shop Titans bucks the common trend for Kabam titles — which usually revolve around humongous Hollywood properties — and takes the time to perfect a shop simulator in which you run the town shop for adventurers and fantasy characters. It’s a blast to grow your shop, upgrade your keeper, find new weapons to make, and meet the demands of travellers passing by.

Available on iOS and Android.

Apple Arcade

Hot Lava

There aren’t many studios in Canada that are taken as seriously as Klei Entertainment. They’ve become a household name with an interesting and weird take on classic gameplay elements in their titles like Don’t Starve, Mark of the Ninja, and more. One of the best indie studios the world over, Klei hasn’t yet lost their touch on all the things that make gaming and imagination fun.

Do you remember when you were a kid and used to play The Floor is Lava? Well, we’ve got a game for you. The brilliantly talented minds at Klei Entertainment wanted to bring that feeling to a newly launched platform. Play as an action figure, exploring and completing levels in which you must traverse atop obstacles without falling because the floor is lava!

Available on Apple Arcade.

Skate City

Built by Snowman makes another appearance on this list because they’ve managed to do what many developers struggle with: expand their fanbase with a breadth of variety.

Skate City is just as much a love-letter to the skateboarding world as it is a play on Snowman’s own Alto games. It’s a stunning achievement in control and expansiveness, and one of the crowning glories on the Apple Arcade market.

Available on Apple Arcade.

Pinball Wizard

Vancouver Island’s Frosty Pop has been at this for a very long time, but it’s their latest magical masterpiece that may truly put them on the map when it comes to iconic indie video game developers in Canada.

Pinball Wizard is the most adorable take on the game of pinball that you’ve ever seen. Adventure through dungeons by using your pinball paddles to shoot a tiny wizard into a collection of rooms.

Available on Apple Arcade.

The Enchanted World

Noodlecake is the pride of Saskatoon, and their Apple Arcade title The Enchanted World will do wonders to lift their name above the popularity reached by their earlier titles like Super Stickman Golf.

The Enchanted World is a stunningly beautiful game in which players use the sliding of tiles to traverse mysterious dungeons. It’s one of the best looking games on the Apple Arcade platform, and begs to be played for hours.

Available on Apple Arcade.

Sneaky Sasquatch

The team at RAC7 burst onto the scene a few years back when their innovative puzzle game Splitter Critters won the Big Indie Pitch contest at the Game Developers Conference in Vancouver. Now, as a spotlight on Apple Arcade, their latest title is an absolute blast from start to finish.

You play as a Sasquatch trying to gather food in a world infested with humans. Solve puzzles, remain undetected, and don’t get caught. Things take a turn when you have to dress up and interact with those very humans in order to get closer to that delicious meal.

“We’re very lucky to be surrounded with a great game development community here in Vancouver, and it’s definitely made an impact on our games. I’m not sure we’d be making the same games if we lived anywhere else,” RAC7 co-founder Jesse Ringrose told Daily Hive. “Our most recent game … is loosely based on our hometown of Squamish, so we’ve been able to pull a lot of inspiration from our small-town Canadian upbringing.”

Available on Apple Arcade.