From mountains to metropolises, Canada’s diverse landscape is ripe for storytelling. Although we’re still hoping for a GTA set in the GTA, there’s been an influx of video games in recent years that are set in the Great White North.
Be they AAA franchises or indie darlings, check out some of the best video games you (probably) didn’t know take place in Canada.
Death Road to Canada
This brilliantly named survival game tasks players with trekking through a pixelated, zombie infested United States in order to find a safe haven in Canada. When you beat the game, the characters are greeted by the Prime Minister at a log cabin border and watch in awe as robotic Mounties blast zombies with “EH-zer beams.” Genius.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Fans of the historical action series Assassin’s Creed will know players technically don’t control an ancient assassin, but rather a modern day individual with access to their assassin ancestors’ memories. In Black Flag, you assume control of a 21st century man working for Abstergo Entertainment in Montreal. The company revisits the memories of a pirate assassin, apparently to do research for a game they’re creating about assassins.
It gets weirder: Black Flag itself was created in Montreal, making the whole thing entirely too meta. But hey, at least your character gets a gorgeous office view of a vividly detailed Montreal!
Set atop the fictional Blackwood Mountain somewhere in Western Canada, Until Dawn sees eight vacationing teenagers hunted by someone or something outside their log cabin. The angsty teens have the naivety and sexual tension you’d expect from Degrassi High, and it’s your choices in game that dictate who gets killed and who will survive until dawn.
Soma not only holds the distinction of being one of the most frightening video games in recent memory, but also features the TTC prominently in one early scene. Protagonist Simon Jarrett is seen riding the TTC, although we’re not sure how he got phone reception at Osgood Station!
If mobile gaming is more your speed, Toronto studio Pop Sandbox’s ethical puzzle game Pipe Trouble is for you. The game blends classic arcade gameplay with a political twist: players construct pipelines across maps while conservative and liberal opinions create pressure from the right and left sides of the screen. The game maintains an impartial position, urging players to consider both perspectives surrounding oil pipeline debates and eco-politics.
Pop Sandbox also created LOUD on Planet X, a rhythm game that opens in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern and ends with July Talk, Shad, Lights, and more defeating alien invaders with the power of music.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
We planned to keep sports games off the list (it’s too easy to cite an NHL game featuring the Air Canada Centre, for example) but when two of the biggest video game characters unite to snowboard in Vancouver, it’s hard to dismiss that.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is an ongoing multiplayer sports series SEGA has worked on since the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, when Vancouver hosted the Winter games, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and all of their friends took up residency in a digital version of BC’s biggest city. How many other nations can say Mario and Luigi left the Mushroom Kingdom just to visit their country?
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
The third game in the Deus Ex series sees its augmented hero Adam Jensen fly to Montreal, Quebec, in search of Eliza Cassan at one point. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium plays a central role in the game as the fictional Picus Communications group houses its headquarters there.