It’s the time of year that children celebrate and parents dread. Yes, March Break is almost upon us here in Ontario. The week-long school holiday is a much-needed breather for kids and parents alike, but the extended time off often leaves families scrambling for activities to keep children entertained and occupied over the break.
Looking to fill that staycation with some video game fun for the whole family? Thankfully Ontario’s game developers have you and your fam covered with an array of fantastic cooperative games that can be played together.
Here are 10 made-in-Ontario couch co-op games that we’re definitely downloading for March Break:
Developer: Studio MDHR
Oakville, Ontario’s Studio MDHR is the developer behind one of the most beloved and original video games in recent memory: Cuphead. By now, you’ve likely heard of Cuphead, be it through The Cuphead Show on Netflix or the line of toys in stores, but if you haven’t then you should definitely play the video game that started it all.
Cuphead took the gaming world by storm when it launched in 2019 – and one of the biggest surprises the cutesy run-and-gun action game had in store for players was just how challenging it was. Of course, you have the option to play couch co-op with a friend (Mugman), which makes things a bit easier and a lot more fun. The game follows the story of Cuphead, an adorable animated character with a cup for a head, who makes a bet with the Devil but loses and must give up his soul. However, the Devil offers Cuphead a deal that will allow him to keep his soul. It’s obvious that Cuphead hasn’t heard the saying “Never make a deal with the Devil,” because he does. He must collect “soul contracts” from others that are in debt to the devil. From there, Cuphead (and Mugman) journey across different worlds to collect.
Nobody Saves the World
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
The latest and biggest project to date from Drinkbox Studios, Nobody Saves the World is one of the award-winning developer’s best adventures yet. Featuring the classic amnesiac protagonist, what sets the RPG dungeon crawler apart from its peers is the chance to play as over a dozen different characters and mix and match their powers. You play as Nobody, a blank slate character with the unique ability to transform into a myriad of characters, each with their own unique abilities to use and master.
And to make a great game even better, you can play with a friend or family member and have them drop in as a duplicate Nobody. The ability to work with a friend through some of the game’s incredible dungeons means you’ll have the support you need to ensure that you both make it out of there unscathed.
Developer: Mega Power Games
DepowerBall from Mega Power Games began as a prototype project at 2018’s Toronto Game Jam and has now made its way onto Steam as a playable demo. While the game may not be the traditional “co-op” experience, the idea behind DepowerBall is compelling enough that getting a couple of friends together to play it may just be the best way to experience this game!
Essentially a party platformer, DepowerBall tasks players with feeding the Dragon Queen each round. Every player begins with zero advantage over their competitors, but that quickly devolves as the player who gains favour with the Queen each round is gifted the power to take away abilities from the other players. We all know that super competitive friend who needs to be taken down a notch from time to time, and DepowerBall gives you a fantastical and extremely entertaining way to do just that.
Developer: Reptoid Games
A co-op action-adventure game for aspiring paleontologists and dinosaur fans, Fossil Hunters started off as a successful Kickstarter campaign from Toronto-based indie studio Reptoid Games and eventually earned Ubisoft Toronto’s Indie Series award before landing on Steam.
In Fossil Hunters, each new journey puts your characters on the hunt for fossilized treasures. Each treasure hunt begins with players hunting for clues that are required to complete a skeletal paleontological find. These adventures can be played solo or with friends, as Fossil Hunters supports four-player co-operative gameplay. Playing with friends or family results in a completely different and exciting creative experience and secondary objectives that include additional bonuses by completing them.
Toronto’s Cococumber has been hard at work over the last several years working on titles like Echo Generation and the upcoming Ravenlok, but their previous game Riverbond is an essential couch co-op title for up to four players.
A family-friendly shoot-and-slash dungeon crawler, Riverbond sees the player (and some friends!) embark on an adventure filled with enemies and items to collect. Voxel worlds are all the rage these days and kids can’t get enough of them which is why Riverbond – with its visually striking voxel art style and dungeon-crawling elements – is something well worth checking out if you have younger children who might be starting their journey with games. Time will fly by because you’re having so much fun together.
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Toronto’s Drinkbox Studios always find a way to smartly combine humour with incredible gameplay. The Guacamelee! series is proof that the developer is more than capable of deftly delivering a sequel well worth the player’s time, all while improving on almost every aspect of its predecessor. In the case of Guacamelee! 2, Juan is now a family man who is one day called back into the Luchador lifestyle as he heads out into the Mexiverse to stop Salvador, a new enemy out for revenge.
The best thing Drinkbox did for this highly anticipated sequel was add four player co-op to the already outlandish platform brawler gameplay Guacamelee! is known for. Whether it’s two or four players, and whether you’re brawling against enemies or chickens or platforming together, there’s a lot of fun to be had thanks to the silly humour and colourful world the team at Drinkbox Studios established with Guacamelee! and its sequel.
Rise and Fall
Developer: Post Boredom Games
Post Boredom Games is a small studio out of Toronto, Ontario that launched the free-to-play action sports game Rise and Fall on Steam in 2020. What happens when you combine soccer with the ability to shrink and grow? Well, in Rise and Fall, the whole idea is to shrink to become faster and grow to become stronger but ideally, stay medium-sized to be the most balanced player you can be. However, depending on who you’re facing at home, there’s a lot of opportunity to take advantage of each size to deliver some pretty incredible goals.
Developer: Fractal Phase
From Toronto’s Fractal Phase comes Sky Rogue, a rogue-lite flight simulator that takes players across land, sea, and air with an infinite number of procedurally-generated islands. If the stunning throwback graphics aren’t enough to entice, then grab a friend and come see why the co-op campaign is one of the highlights of Sky Rogue.
For starters, you can play the entire campaign with a friend and together can dogfight as if your callsigns are Maverick and Ice Man. Who doesn’t love an arcade shooter that allows you to fiddle with upgrades and ammo to make quick work of any fighter jets that try to take you on? Did we mention that there is a permadeath mode? It basically tells you that in the game’s title, so be sure to not get your wings clipped.
Developer: Ian Campbell
One look at Bleed 2 with its frenetic gameplay and unique art style and you might think that there is some shared DNA with games by Drinkbox Studios. In a sense, that is true as Bleed 2 developer Ian Campbell now works at Drinkbox.
While you don’t need to have played the original Bleed to dive into the sequel, the twin-stick action game retains some of the elements of its predecessor while tightening up the gameplay and adding multiplayer and co-op. Playing as Wryn, you’ll have your hands full as the world’s last hero who must now stop an invasion of villains out for world domination.
What makes Bleed 2 especially fun to play with a friend or family member is that the second player joins the original Wryn with a new hair colour. One Wryn can deflect or parry purple attacks while the other Wyrn deflects or parries yellow attacks. What better way for siblings to put aside their differences and learn to work together than by teaming up to save the world?
Dawn of the Monsters
Developer: 13AM Games
It’s 2065 and climate change is but one problem the Earth now faces. It also has to deal with the Nephilim, giant monsters who are destroying anything and everything in their wake. You play as a member of DAWN, a group that has learned to combat and stop these titans that have invaded Earth and made the planet a shell of its former self.
Dawn of the Monsters from Toronto’s 13AM Games (Runbow) puts players in the role of four giant characters – Megadon, Ganira, Aegis Prime, and Tempest Galahad – brawling across several 2.5D environments against forces out to destroy the Earth. This mega-sized beat ‘em up requires players to master their mech or monster’s movements while attempting to block, parry, and dodge incoming attacks. Naturally, since you work for Defense Alliance Worldwide Network, you can ask a friend to join you, and together can head out to battle the kaiju invading Earth. If you’ve seen a Godzilla movie before, then you’ll understand that even giant monsters need a hand sometimes, and really, when do you ever get to battle kaiju with a friend?
These are just a few of the great co-op games produced by Ontario-based studios and developers. Be sure to let us know if any of the games on this list become family favourites over March Break. And hang in there, parents. It’s only a week!