Last month, we looked at 10 standout indie and AAA games from 2021 that were made here in Canada.
Highlights included Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Inscryption and Moonglow Bay. All told, it was a pretty great year!
Now, narrowing these kinds of lists down is actually trickier than you might think since Canada is the third-largest producer of games in the world. There are also many gems from indie studios, in particular, that can, unfortunately, slip under the radar.
Given all of that, we’re taking the first few days of 2022 to look ahead to what’s coming from the gaming industry for the rest of the year. Note: we’re only counting games that have been confirmed to release at some point in 2022. We’ll also give some honourable mentions to undated Canadian games at the end.
And, of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to rage on, it’s important to remember that dates may shift and games end up getting delayed beyond 2022. In fact, a few titles on this list made the cut last year prior to getting pushed.
Anyway, without further ado, here are 10 Canadian games to keep on your radar this year:
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
Developer/Publisher: Studio MDHR (Oakville, Ontario, with other developers across Canada and elsewhere)
Genre: Run and gun, platformer
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release date: June 28th, 2022
After a reveal in 2018 for a 2019 release and multiple subsequent delays, we’re finally getting more Cuphead this summer. While this is an expansion rather than a brand-new game, it absolutely deserves a spot on this list given a) how beloved the original game is and b) how much painstaking work goes into the gorgeous hand-drawn, retro-inspired animation. It’s also shaping up to be a sizeable add-on in its own right thanks to a new playable character, Ms. Chalice, as well as new levels and bosses.
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal (Montreal, Quebec)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release date: TBA 2022
Originally set to launch in 2021, the Batman: Arkham Origins developer’s next DC Comics foray is now set to drop sometime this year. Completely unrelated to the Arkham series, Gotham Knights instead tells an original tale about the Bat Family — Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Red Hood — who must step up to protect the city following the apparent death of Bruce Wayne. Each hero has their own unique abilities and traits, which can be used to explore Gotham solo or via co-op. While much of the story has been kept under wraps, we do know that one of the central villains is the mysterious organization known as the Court of Owls, who comic fans will know from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s seminal “New 52” run.
Goodbye Volcano High
Developer/Publisher: KO_OP (Montreal, Quebec)
Genre: Narrative adventure
Platform: PlayStation 4/5 (timed console exclusive), PC
Release date: TBA 2022
Another 2021 carryover entry, Goodbye Volcano High aims to hit you in all of the feels with its story about teenagers going through their final year at high school. It’s poised to be a classic, sentimental coming-of-age with a twist: the world is populated by anthropomorphic dinosaurs. But beneath that fantastical premise is a push for rare representation: Fang, the main character, is non-binary and actually voiced by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s Lachlan Watson, one of Hollywood’s youngest non-binary actors.
Nightingale, the most recently revealed game on this list comes from a team of former BioWare Edmonton developers, including general manager Aaryn Flynn. We’re talking people who worked on the beloved Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, to give you an idea of the pedigree. That’s what makes Nightingale all the more interesting — in a marked departure from most BioWare games, it’s a shared world experience set in a collapsed Victorian gas lamp setting. Whether on your own or with other players, you’ll have to travel the mystical land, build out your character and face off against mystical dark creatures.
Nobody Saves the World
Developer/Publisher: Drinkbox Studios (Toronto, Ontario)
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows 10, Steam (also on Xbox Game Pass on all three platforms day one)
Release date: January 18th, 2022
Guacamelee! developer Drinkbox is back with its “biggest” game to date. Play as a featureless “Nobody” who must use a powerful magic wand to shapeshift and stop an invading alien threat. Altogether, the game has over 15 different Forms (including Knight, Slug, Dragon and Ghost) that each offer their own unique abilities, which can also be mixed and matched to further expand your arsenal. All the while, you’ll be able to explore an expansive world, take on various zany sidequests and traverse challenging dungeons.
For more on Nobody Saves the World, check out our interview with Drinkbox co-founder Graham Smith.
Rainbow Six Extraction*
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal (Montreal, Quebec)
Genre: First-person shooter, strategy, co-op
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC (also on Xbox Game Pass on all three platforms day one)
Release date: January 20th, 2022
(Note: Extraction was formerly known as Quarantine). Ubisoft Montreal’s Rainbow Six Siege has become one of the most popular multiplayer games in recent years due to its focus on tense, strategic matches. Now, the Canadian studio is back with a follow-up to Siege that sees Team Rainbow facing its greatest threat yet: a deadly alien parasite. Choose between 18 operators, 69 guns and 25 gadgets and wage war against your mutant foes across 12 dynamic maps.
Sea of Stars
Developer/Publisher: Sabotage Studio (Quebec City, Quebec)
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC (other platform announcements to come in spring 2022)
Release date: TBA Holiday 2022
A prequel story to Sabotage’s acclaimed 2018 action-platformer, The Messenger, Sea of Stars is a classic RPG in the vein of Chrono Trigger. To that point, Sea of Stars even features new music from Chrono Trigger composer Yasunori Mitsuda. It’s one of many ways the game lovingly pays tribute to the past, alongside gorgeous 2D pixel art, turn-based combat and a grand adventure focused on two children holding the power to save the world, plus modernized elements like no random encounters.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Developer: Tribute Games (Montreal, Quebec)
Genre: Side-scrolling beat ’em up
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC
Release date: TBA 2022
A team of former Ubisoft employees who worked on the well-regarded Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game are turning their beat ’em up talents to the world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Drawing inspiration from the classic TMNT arcade games, Shredder’s Revenge puts you in the butt-kicking shoes of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and April O’Neil as they fight the Foot Clan, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady and, of course, Shredder. Naturally, the game also has up to four-player co-op for some sweet team-based beat downs.
Developer: Andrew Shouldice (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Platform: Xbox consoles, PC
Release date: March 16th, 2022
Developed by a lone Haligonian developer, Tunic is a delightfully charming homage to The Legend of Zelda featuring an adorable fox. Played from an isometric viewpoint, Tunic has you exploring a mysterious world, gathering new items as you go which open up further areas. Notably, much of the game is abstract, as dialogue is presented via indecipherable language and waypoints are nary to be seen. Shouldice instead trusts players to rely on instincts and learnings from other games to progress, which should make for a decidedly unique experience.
For more on Tunic, read our preview of the game.
Developer/Publisher: Visai Games (Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Narrative, cooking
Release date: TBA 2022
The final game on this list also slipped out of 2022, but it’s looking to be worth the wait. So few games are bold enough to avoid including any type of combat at all, but Venba doubles down on a narrative-driven experience that’s all about cooking. Drawing from creator Abhi’s personal experiences of immigrating to Toronto, Venba follows an Indian mother, her husband and their child as they adjust to life in Canada. By preparing signature Indian dishes, the family is able to reconnect with their homeland’s culture. Come for the delicious food, stay for the family drama.
For more on Venba, read our interview with Abhi.
Taking a look at all of that, it’s a pretty diverse list spanning all kinds of different genres, platforms and developers. It’s a testament to the quality and diversity of the studios here in Canada. There are some other confirmed 2022 games that we didn’t get to, as well, like The Outlast Trials from Quebec City-based Red Barrels or the next Backbone from Vancouver-based Eggnut.
And that’s just for what we know definitively (COVID permitting) for 2022. Beyond these 10 games, here are some other previously revealed titles that are coming at some point in the future (some may hit 2022, but they’re likely farther out):
- Assassin’s Creed Infinity (Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Quebec)
- Dead Space remake (Montreal’s EA Motive)
- Unrevealed new PlayStation IP (Jade Raymond’s Haven team in Montreal)
- Unrevealed new multiplayer-focused IP (Amazon Games Montreal)
- Untitled new Mass Effect game (BioWare Edmonton)
- Untitled new Dragon Age game (BioWare Edmonton)
Of course, there will be other Canadian games coming in 2022 and/or beyond that will no doubt be announced in the coming months. For now, though, this is a fairly extensive roundup offering a lot to look forward to. With that in mind, which Canadian games are you most excited to play? Let us know in the comments.
*As with last year, we debated on including a Ubisoft game. In the summer of 2021, the French publishing giant faced a reckoning over alleged toxic work cultures at many of its studios, including the major Montreal location. Executives and other people in leadership roles were accused of sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse, particularly towards women. While some executives stepped down amid the controversy and Ubisoft says it’s enacted company-wide initiatives to address these concerns, some developers have since said that there has been little improvement.
Therefore, some may see covering Ubisoft’s games as part of the problem. We’ve definitely grappled with that moral quandary. Ultimately, we’ve included Extraction here because a) it’s nonetheless a noteworthy Canadian game and b) there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Ubisoft Canada developers working on it who are completely innocent and just want to make their art.
It’s undoubtedly a complicated situation for them, especially, and we absolutely sympathize with how they must feel. The goal, then, is to celebrate their work — not executives — with whatever coverage we provide. Ultimately, whether you support Ubisoft games is only a choice you can make.