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Made-in-Canada video games to watch for in 2015

01/26/2015 09:40 EST | Updated 03/28/2015 05:59 EDT
Link, Batman, Nathan Drake and Lara Croft are all scheduled to reprise their roles in 2015's high-profile games. With few exceptions, the most anticipated video games slated for release this year reveal few surprises.

But the games coming out of Canada's development scene show something different. Big budget sequels share the spotlight with independent studios showing off their creativity and pushing the boundaries of the medium.

Here's a look at some of the most promising video games which are in the works and made in Canada we hope to see released in 2015 (release dates for these games aren't yet finalized).

Below: Toronto-based independent studio Capy has earned accolades worldwide with their quirky humour, punctuated by last year's shooter Super Time Force which includes, among other oddities, the ability to play as Sony CEO Shuhei Yoshida blasting enemies with weaponized tweets.

Capy's next game, Below, takes a slower, more deliberate pace. You play an unnamed warrior exploring a giant, mysterious island with unknown horrors hidden in a randomly generated maze. Composer Jim Guthrie's ethereal soundtrack sets the tone for a grown-up, haunted-house take on The Legend of Zelda. (for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One)

The Long Dark: The debut game from Vancouver Island-based Hinterland Studios has already sold more than 250,000 copies and amassed rave reviews – and it isn't even finished yet.

Hinterland launched an 'early access' version of the game in September. It earned praise for its take on the survival horror genre, replacing supernatural threats like zombies with a more realistic enemy: nature.

The full version of The Long Dark will feature Edmonton's Mark Meer voicing a bush pilot named William McKenzie (a shout-out to Canada's 10th prime minister) who faces brutal Canadian conditions with only his wits and supplies scavenged from his surroundings. (for Microsoft Windows and Mac)

Assassin's Creed Victory: Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series is one of the giants of gaming today, but it's had a rough time of late. Last year's Assassin's Creed Unity, set in a meticulously recreated Revolutionary Era France, was panned for an uninspired storyline and game breaking technical glitches. Ubisoft's Quebec City studio is taking the lead in the next game, throwing the player in a conspiracy-ridden Victorian London setting.

We're not sure if Victory will satisfy where Unity disappointed, but the Creed games manage to do something new with its formula every instalment. So we’re interested in how this one will turn out, if only out of curiosity (for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows). 

Knight and Damsel: Let's say you're a gallant knight on his way to save a princess. But what if she doesn't want to be saved? That's the idea behind Knight and Damsel, "a two player feminist puzzle platformer." Each player takes half the screen, and can impede the progress of each other: the knight throws obstacles into the princess’s path slowing her down so that he can rescue her. The princess, meanwhile, does the same to keep him away allowing her to rescue herself.

The concept for Knight and Damsel was built in three days at the Toronto Game Jam in 2014 and a full release is expected this spring. (for Ouya)

Severed: DrinkBox Studio flexed its creative art-house style with 2012's Guacamelee, where you played a LuchaLibre wrestler-slash-superhero who battles against villains based on Mexican folklore. Their signature style—dipped in deep purple and green tones and full of angular, surreal imagery—is unmistakable in their next game,​ Severed.

In Severed, you play as a one-armed heroine who fights demons and monsters while trying to piece together her fractured memories. Sword slashes with the use of the PlayStation Vita's touch screen feature prominently in trailers. Severed could be the game to revitalize the lagging sales of Sony's portable system. (For PS Vita)

Cuphead: Studio MDHR, a tiny independent team headed by Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, two brothers from Regina, have been working on their debut game Cupheadsince 2010. Taking after the surrealistic, pre-Steamboat Willie cartoons of the 1930s, the team is hand-drawing every single frame of animation and background art that will appear in the game.

The titular Cuphead, a wide-eyed cross between Mickey Mouse and the Kool-Aid Man, is the product of a painstakingly hardcore approach to making a game with retro sensibilities. (for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows).

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