The Game Development scene has exploded over the last few years and that’s in no small part to all the Ontario post-secondary education programs focusing on video game development. Just as these students are preparing for exams, Level Up 2018 showcases many of the team and solo projects built by Ontario’s newest game developers.
Level Up is a free event hosted on two floors at the Design Exchange in the heart of downtown Toronto. More than a dozen college and university programs send students to show off their hard work and compete for awards.
Additional sponsorship of the event comes from partners AMD, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Zynga and more; all are looking for the next generation of innovative game designers and artists. There’s no shortage of innovation as traditional game genres are mashed up, reinvented, and perfected.
There were four categories of completion; Best Tech, Best Art, People’s Choice, and Best Overall Game:
That Night (OCAD)
Stop Running (Brock U)
Super Random Heroes (Sheridan)
OddBird Studio created Super Random Heroes. The team is also known Arrow Heads, which is available on Steam and Xbox One, and soon on PS4. Super Random Heroes grants random (though not always enviable) superpowers to ordinary citizens. The twisted humour and creative gameplay make it an quick game to pick up. Still in early development, the game only has one level and three superpowers. The game is targeted for release in 2020 so there should be many more unique skills and scenes to play by then.
Super Random Heroes also received funding recently at the EGLX Pitch Competition. Several other games that were present at EGLX less than four weeks ago and showed considerable improvement at Level Up 2018. Skies of Iris, Head Rush and Critterbox were also refined following user feedback. Wanderfall, Kojiki54% and Godsend look a lot better after massive graphics and lighting work. Godsend also refined their gameplay and shows a lot of potential as your hero possesses different enemies in order to solve puzzles.
Zephyr didn’t win any awards but should also receive mention since it placed 2nd or 3rd in Best Art, Best Overall, and People’s Choice. At first it looks like a standard 3D platformer, but with the control to immediately switch seasons to Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter the gameplay and visuals make Zephyr unique and fun to play.
Since students are at the end of their school year, most of these games are as complete as they’ll ever be. Many will be posted to Itch.io, others will get a full release on Steam. Many will simply become portfolio pieces as their developers enter the gaming industry. Ontario’s Indie game industry is growing, and each year there are a lot of creative minds at Level Up Showcase to fuel it.