Ever since the late 90s and early 2000s, Canada’s video game industry has seen rapid growth and development. And although the industry now contributes a substantial 5.5 billion dollars to Canada’s GDP, many still fail to connect the Great White North to the renowned games it produces.
Perhaps, this reluctance is tied to Hollywood’s dominant presence in the entertainment world, leading us to unwittingly assume Canada’s video game industry also faces such high competition.
Regardless, Canada has undoubtedly grown to become a leader in video game production. To prove it, we’ve compiled a list of 10 top-notch games that you might not have realized were made on Canadian soil.
Let’s dive in!
Top 10 Canadian Video Games
Mass Effect 2 (2010) – Developed by BioWare (Edmonton, Alberta)
Developed by Canadian company BioWare, Mass Effect 2 raised the bar for character-driven storytelling while introducing players to a highly interactive sci-fi universe. The game masterfully blends deep narrative, action-packed gameplay, and immersive world-building.
One of the game’s most beloved features is its exceptional use of character choice. Throughout the game, players make key decisions that have lasting impacts on the game’s overall narrative arc, meaning no two players end up experiencing the same plotline.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011) – Developed by Eidos-Montréal (Montreal, Quebec)
Eidos-Montréal’s cyberpunk RPG Deus Ex: Human Revolution holds a special place in the hearts of countless gamers. It skillfully combined top-notch RPG elements with stealth-focused gameplay offering a truly unique take on the cyberpunk genre. Similar to Mass Effect 2, the game is also heralded for its impressive character choice dynamics and in-game augmentations.
Assassin’s Creed II (2009) – Developed by Ubisoft Montreal (Montreal, Quebec)
Many forget that the widely popular Assassin’s Creed II was a homegrown Canadian production. Set during the Italian Renaissance, the game follows the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Italian nobleman who, following the death of his family, becomes an Assassin seeking vengeance.
Thanks to its detailed recreation of cities like Rome, Venice, and Florence, and its amazing parkour-like gameplay mechanics, Assassin’s Creed II stood out by allowing players to explore history in an unbelievably fun and immersive way.
Dragon Age: Origins (2009) – Developed by BioWare (Edmonton, Alberta)
Alberta-based BioWare makes its second appearance on our list with Dragon Age: Origins, an immersive fantasy game that, at the time, saw the developer return to its RPG roots. The game takes place in the expansive world of Thedas, which is packed with rich environments and one-of-a-kind characters. However, what really won over fans was the game’s classic RPG-style combat and cinematic narrative.
Dead by Daylight (2016) – Developed by Behaviour Interactive (Montreal, Quebec)
Dead by Daylight is a one-of-a-kind horror game that implements a thrilling asymmetrical multiplayer format: one user plays a powerful killer who is responsible for hunting down a group of three survivors (the other players). The result? A tense and terrifying game of cat and mouse that requires true-to-life teamwork on behalf of the survivors.
Hollow Knight: Silksong (2024) – Developed by Team Cherry (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
We’re very excited for the upcoming sequel to Hollow Knight, which builds upon the foundations of its predecessor and offers players an all-new set of characters, amazing hand-drawn visuals, and even tougher platforming puzzles.
For many, what will likely make Hollow Knight: Silksong an immediate classic is Team Cherry’s obsessive attention to detail; the game features rich lore, incredible music, and hyper-refined gameplay mechanics. Expect the sequel sometime mid to late in 2024.
The Long Dark (2017) – Developed by Hinterland Studio (Cumberland, British Columbia)
Perhaps no game is as definitively Canadian as The Long Dark. Set in Canada’s harsh wilderness, the game throws players into a tense and atmospheric survival experience. Players must find resources, including water, food, and shelter while navigating the game’s highly stylized environments. One of the coolest features of The Long Dark is its complex weather and wildlife systems, which add to the game’s lifelike feel.
Cuphead (2017) – Developed by StudioMDHR (Oakville, Ontario)
Another smash-hit indie offering, Cuphead is known for its challenging gameplay and hand-drawn animation, the latter of which draws inspiration from 1930s-era cartoons. Part of what makes this sidescroller so loveable – in spite of its twisted visuals – is the clear amount of passion and effort poured into it by its creators at StudioMDHR.
Celeste (2018) – Developed by Maddy Makes Games (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Celeste is a perfectly executed side-scroller that, despite being independently developed, sold over 1 million copies in the first two years of its release. No doubt, the game’s success is due to its highly addictive gameplay, precise level design, and charming pixel-style visuals
Watch Dogs 2 (2016) – Developed by Ubisoft Montreal (Montreal, Quebec)
Ubisoft Montreal strikes again with the massively popular Watch Dogs 2. This open-world action game is built on the original’s hacking-focused gameplay while expanding its world-building elements. This time around, players were invited to explore the vibrant and dynamic city of San Francisco via sandbox-style gameplay. The game’s amazing open-world in combination with its moving storyline made it an instant Canadian classic.
Play More Canadian Video Games!
Based on our list, it’s pretty clear that there’s no shortage of great games coming out of Canada.
From the widely popular Assassin Creed II, to critically acclaimed indies like Cuphead and Celeste, Canada has proven time and time again that it is a hub for video game innovation and ingenuity.
And really, these 10 titles are just the tip of the iceberg!
Oh, and one more thing!
If you’re interested in breaking into the creative industries – as a video game developer, perhaps? – then sign up for Toronto Film School’s industry-focused newsletter, Insider Advantage.
Packed with exclusive content and useful industry insights, Insider Advantage is essential reading for anyone looking to make their mark in Canada’s creative industry.