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Here are the top 10 Canadian-made games of 2022

Canadian developers sure are talented, eh?

Video games are a huge part of Canada.

Per data compiled for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 53 percent of Canadians play games, while the ever-growing industry as a whole contributes $5.5 billion annually to Canada’s GDP.

And every year, there are tons of new games hailing from studios across the country — so many, in fact, that you probably didn’t even know about most of them.

To that end, and in the spirit of end-of-year lists, we’ve rounded up 10 of the year’s most notable games that came from Canadian developers. Impressively, almost all of these were made by small studios, a testament to the dedication and talent of these artists. It’s quite a varied lineup, too, from Metroidvanias and platformers to visual novels and beat ’em ups.

Read on for the full list.


Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Image credit: Studio MDHR

Developer/publisher: Studio MDHR (Oakville, Ontario)
Genre: Run-and-gun, 2D platformer
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

Normally, we wouldn’t include a DLC on this list, but Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course deserves an exception. After all, it’s an expansion to the quintessential Canadian indie success story that adds a slew of content, including new playable character Ms. Chalice, several multi-stage bosses and fun weapons to try out. When you consider how much more work went into this DLC than most add-ons — years of painstakingly hand-drawn artwork and tens of thousands of new animations — then it’s easy to see why The Delicious Last Course deserves a seat at the table for end-of-year discussions.

For more, read our roundtable interview with Studio MDHR.

Disney Dreamlight Valley (early access)

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Image credit: Disney/Gameloft

Developer: Gameloft Montreal (Montreal, Quebec)
Publisher: Gameloft
Genre: Simulation
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

Simulation games like Animal Crossing have grown even more popular during the pandemic, so a Disney-themed one made so much sense. In the game, you’ll have to tend to the titular valley using magic, shovels, fishing rods, plants and other resources. Of course, you’ll also meet some iconic Disney and Pixar characters along the way, including, of course, Mickey Mouse, as well as Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Anna and Elsa (Frozen), Buzz and Woody (Toy Story) and Scar (The Lion King). It remains to be seen how the game will shape out when it launches full free-to-play release in 2023, but for now, it’s a charming and approachable experience for all ages.

Infernax

Developer: Berzerk Studio (Quebec City, Quebec)
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Genre: 2D Metroidvania
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC

Inspired by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, the small developer of Just Shapes & Beats sought out to make a badass and violent Metroidvania that a “sugar-powered kid” would dream of. As the knight Alcedor, you must save your village from deadly monsters using a shield, mace and various spells. Infernax‘s unabashed gore gives the solid Metroidvania mechanics a gleeful sense of brutality and adds even more flavour to the already unique boss encounters. At the same time, the team added welcome options like difficulty modes and cheats to ease in those who perhaps don’t like how punishingly difficult old-school games could be.

For more, read our interview with Berzerk’s Mike Ducarme.

A Little to the Left

A Little To The Left

Image credit: Secret Mode

Developer: Max Inferno (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Publisher:
Secret Mode
Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

Sometimes you just want a cozy, laidback experience, and that’s what A Little to the Left is all about. Reminiscent of last year’s Unpacking, A Little to the Left‘s 75-plus puzzles have you organizing household items that were displaced by a mischievous little cat. Most impressively, there are multiple solutions to them, so you can design whether you want to sort based on criteria like size or colour. There’s also a helpful and penalty-free hint system if you get stuck on some of the more abstract puzzles, and the ‘Daily Tidy Delivery’ gives you a new puzzle variation every day as a nice way to incentivize coming back to the game.

Nobody Saves the World

Developer/publisher: DrinkBox Studios (Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Action-RPG, dungeon crawling
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC

With Nobody Saves the World, Guacamelee! developer DrinkBox tried its hand at a new genre, action-RPGs, and found much success. As a “baby-thing” named Nobody, your job is to use a magic wand to fight against an ancient Calamity. It’s an endearingly quirky premise filled with fun writing, but the transformative Forms are the real highlight. These riffs on character classes range from the badass (knights and dragons) to hilariously weird (a literal egg), and the game encourages you to mix and match their abilities for the best results. Throw in optional co-op and music from acclaimed composer Jim Guthrie (Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP) and Nobody Saves the World! is a real gem.

For more, read our interview with DrinkBox co-founder Graham Smith.

Rogue Legacy 2

Rogue Legacy 2 combat

Image credit: Cellar Door Games

Developer/publisher: Cellar Door Games (Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Platformer, roguelite
Platform: Xbox consoles, Nintendo Switch, PC

Two years after Rogue Legacy 2 launched early access, Cellar Door is here with the full release. As with the beloved and influential first game, Rogue Legacy 2 has you controlling a knight who must explore procedurally generated dungeons to collect treasures and defeat enemies. The sequel doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does make smart improvements across the board, particularly in making each of the 13 classes feel distinctive. A more varied and interconnected world only further enhances the overall experience.

Scarlet Hollow

Scarlet Hollow Tabitha

Image credit: Black Tabby Games

Developer/publisher: Black Tabby Games (Toronto)
Genre: Visual novel, horror
Platform: PC

When your aunt dies, you’ll have to travel to the titular small North Carolina mining town for your aunt’s funeral, only to discover some sinister is afoot. Shaking up the visual novel genre’s traditional dialogue choices are selectable Scarlet Hollow‘s ‘Traits,’ which influence your character’s abilities. These include the attractiveness-boosting ‘Hot,’ which makes NPCs respond more favourably, and ‘Powerful Build’ to let you strong-arm your way out of sticky situations. The ways in which these affect the game’s growing list of chapters keeps things fresh and only add to the sharp writing, well-drawn comic book-esque illustrations and surprisingly tough choices.

For more, read our interview with Black Tabby’s Abby Howard and Tony Howard-Arias.

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

Image credit: Finji

Developer: Northway Games (Vancouver, B.C.)
Publisher: 
Finji
Genre: RPG
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC

As part of humanity’s first space colony, you have a bold new life ahead of you. As a result, you’ll have to make to decide how to balance your time between school, exploring the new world and forging bonds with your fellow colonists. Whichever events you experience will take the form of cards that will give you more options as you progress through the campaign. There’s a compelling intricacy in how these systems overlap, fuelling the deeply affecting coming-of-age story to create a truly memorable experience.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

Image credit: Dotemu

Developer: Tribute Games (Montreal, Quebec)
Publisher: 
Dotemu
Genre: Side-scrolling beat ’em up
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC

What do you get when you have ex-Ubisoft employees behind the well-regarded Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game who want to make a throwback TMNT arcade game? The thoroughly entertaining Shredder’s Revenge. You and up to three friends can play as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and April O’Neil as you fight the Foot Clan, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady and, of course, Shredder. The perfect co-op game.

Tunic

Tunic door

Image credit: Finji

Developer: Tunic Team (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Publisher: 
Finji
Genre: Action-adventure
Platform: Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

We mentioned “dedication” at the start of this piece, and nowhere is that more apparent than with Tunic, the culmination of Haligonian Andrew Shouldice’s seven-year journey to craft his own take on The Legend of Zelda. Inspired by the sense of adventure and discovery of the iconic Nintendo series, Shouldice and his small team created a mysterious, guidance-free experience encourages the player to explore and piece things together themselves. The adorable fox protagonist, colourful aesthetic and Dark Souls-lite combat and progression are just icing on the cake.

For more, read our interview with Shouldice and co-developer Kevin Ragamey.


Of course, there were many other Canadian games this year, including DC’s Gotham Knights (Quebec’s Warner Bros. Montreal), the relaxing rhythm title Melatonin (Vancouver’s Half Asleep), Mario soccer sim Mario Strikers (Vancouver’s Next Level) and kaiju beat ’em up Dawn of the Monsters (Toronto’s 13AM).

There are a bunch more to look forward to in 2023, as well, including the RPG Sea of Stars (Quebec City’s Sabotage) and the Dead Space remake (Montreal’s EA Motive). We’ll have more on those in the new year.

For now, though, what were your favourite games of 2022? Let us know in the comments.

Author

  • Bradly Shankar

    Graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism program. While I'm always fascinated by technology as a whole, I'm most interested in the art of video games. In particular, I'm passionate about covering Canada's world-class gaming industry and the many talented developers we have here.

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