Another year draws to a close and another collection of fantastic games have been released. Reflecting on 2019, it has been a bit of a wild ride with some absolute highs and some crushing lows. Although some phenomenal games have of course been released and it’s about time we award our Game of the Year 2019. The following games have been nominated and voted on by the entire Checkpoint team.
Want to check out our Game of the Year 2018? You can find that here! And for those who want to hear us do a deep dive on our top games and why they are so important to our team you should absolutely have a listen to our podcast which you can find below. Without further ado, let’s kick off the top 10!
#10 The Division 2
It may follow a bit of a Ubisoft template for open worlds in some ways, but there’s no denying that The Division 2 is one of the most successful and well thought-out sequels in recent memory, and deserves to be recognised for its efforts. The 1:1 recreation of Washington D.C. is incredibly impressive, and the detailed world that truly feels like it was lived in and breathed in before the virus hit sets the scene perfectly for an addictive and exciting looter shooter experience that’s even more thrilling with a full squad of friends in co-op.
There is refinement everywhere you look, with more variety in enemy difficulty allowing for more of a flow within the story and a seriously enticing amount of loot that can be discovered, upgraded and modified. Impressively, The Division 2 is also not afraid of a little bit of darkness. I was caught off guard by some of the more adult and serious content, but this was balanced wonderfully by some brilliantly designed story missions set in museums, planetariums and other key destinations recreated with care. With a solid endgame, we’re still playing it many months after release – and you probably are too. – Luke
#9 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice could be used in a masterclass for good game design. The game is a testament to what can be achieved when a veteran developer has the freedom and resources to create their project unencumbered. It’s tough but fair, it’s brutal yet rewarding, and it handles with precision, elegance, and grace.
FromSoftware are masters at making hardcore action RPGs, so much so that they have basically invented their own genre. One might think this would encourage FromSoftware to rest on their laurels, but Sekiro is anything but a predictable rehash of old ideas. Sekiro is smart, inventive, and forward-thinking. It’s a game that advances upon a formula and pushes the boundaries on what you’d expect. The game stands proudly as yet another huge win for this development company and another phenomenal game release of 2019. – Elliot
#8 Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts was a game that took me totally by surprise. I’m not one for rhythm or endless runner games and yet, the game managed to enthrall me despite being both.
I played it in one sitting at an airport, waiting for my flight to Melbourne for PAX this year. Even in a busy place, with people all around, the world outside of this charming little game I was playing on my phone managed to sink away. Its charming art style and banging pop soundtrack was really unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard. The music still remains in my cycle, months after release. If you haven’t already, get Apple Arcade and play this game. It’s a music lover’s heaven. – Charlie
#7 Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium had been on my radar a little while after its initial trailer dropped. At first, its striking abstract art style and unique post-revolution setting of Revachol had me intrigued. Coming straight from finishing my prior favourite RPG experience of all-time with Divinity: Original Sin 2, this ambitious game from ZA/UM took me by surprised… and then I played it.
This CRPG truly represents the roleplaying experience. The tasks and objectives throughout the stumbling protagonist’s journey can be tackled from several interesting angles. Whether you put points into Intellect and create a narcissistic brainiac or focus on Physique and become the ultimate detective, the game changes how each scenario may pan out. Disco Elysium throws you deep into the mind of this bizarre investigator and lets you decide how deep you travel into the rabbit hole. Larian Studios have another competitor entering the ring with ZA/UM, if they don’t choose to drink themselves to amnesia again. – Omi
#6 Fire Emblem: Three Houses
5 months later and I still haven’t finished all of what Fire Emblem: Three Houses has to offer. Just one story path gives you heaps to sink your teeth into, but this fantastic sequel to the classic franchise offers three distinct emotional adventures. The monastery of Garrag Mach provided so many hours of unit-management heaven, you might be forgiven for forgetting there’s anything else to it. But then you get to the actual battlefield, and it feels like the best of both old and new Fire Emblem. The graphical upgrade brings the characters and world to life, with a lot of tweaks and improvements to the gameplay. You can focus on the fun of the battle, rather than having to worry so much about your favourite characters dying.
The element of community is what surprised me most, though. The bad-ass roster of characters can be customised to your exact playstyle, making for some great discussions with friends. Who did you recruit, and what did you train them in? Not only is it different for every player, but it’s different for every playthrough. – Edie
#5 Astral Chain
Astral Chain was a hotly anticipated game for me prior to launching, and certainly deserves its place on this GOTY list. The gameplay was immensely satisfying, addicting, and intricate and kept me glued to my screen for hours. The unique combat style tied to the chain mechanic and various equipable legions made for a fun time in the heat of battle, but also having it fundamental to your investigation segments to reach higher ledges, or eavesdrop on spectators is equally as satisfying outside of combat.
Presentation-wise this title holds up incredibly well, having some beautiful graphics and a killer art design that is gorgeously unique. The music and sound design of this game is second to none, and I often found myself listening to the soundtrack even when I wasn’t playing the game, it really is just that good. The anime approach to the cutscenes, characters and story can be a little by the numbers but do not let that sway you from checking out this title. If you own a Nintendo Switch then you have no shortage of superb exclusives to consider, just make sure you do not overlook this amazing title from Platinum Games. – Justin
Since its first trailer dropped at E3 2017, I was enamoured with simply the idea or Control. Its immediately striking visuals of an unconstrained and limitless paranormal world clashing against the reserved and restrictive Brutalist architecture was lodged into my memory and I’ll never forget the feeling it left with me for the next 2 years as I waited patiently. Remedy made a name for themselves in the space between scary and unnerving and Control neatly sits in this world. This stark world effortlessly creates a feeling of dread, only for it to be replaced with a rush of endorphins in gun play that rewards proactive aggression and experimentation instead of the now common and reactive cover based shooter.
The dichotomy at the heart of the uncontrollable running head long into the mundane resides outside of just visuals though. Thematically and narratively the game is about two worlds clashing up against each other and the maelstrom caught between. Beyond the surface level story of a paranormal world invading everyday bureaucracy is a story assessing the struggle for power between the old guard and the new, a story of cleaning up the mess of our predecessors—which is something I think plenty can relate to in recent times. – Cameron
#3 Untitled Goose Game
Beloved by everyone from hardcore gamers to Chrissy Teigen, Untitled Goose Game has been one of the biggest hits of 2019. Judging by how quickly it became a viral sensation, it’s clear the game’s non-violent premise has enormous appeal to a wide range of players.
Untitled Goose Game masterfully blends the perfect ingredients to capture players’ hearts. Developed by local Melbourne indie studio House House, the game cleverly pushes the envelope when it comes to endearing graphics and narrative game design. In Untitled Goose Game, the entire story is told with no words at all. Its use of a non-verbal narrative is very impressive, and certainly pushes the boundaries of the indie genre in unexpected ways. It’s also just really fun to be a goose running around wrecking people’s day. With its clever puzzle and stealth mechanics and hilarious gameplay to boot, this quirky goose game definitely deserves a spot in the yearly top ten. – Lise
#2 Resident Evil 2
Remakes often feel like a way of making money on the same existing game with a slight graphical upgrade, but Resident Evil 2 takes the 20 year old game and reinvents it entirely. Using modern technologies and advanced gameplay to bring a true classic into today’s generation of gamers, it’s both thrillingly fresh and also wonderfully nostalgic solving the puzzles of the Raccoon City Police Department. As a fan, it’s great to experience one of my favourite games in this way, but newcomers will also finally see why Resident Evil is one of the biggest video game franchises ever from the moment they kill their first zombie and unlock their first secret.
Then there’s Tyrant. Oh boy. This big hulking mass of a creature that stalks you throughout the police department on a relentless mission to find you and grab you keeps you on the edge of your seat like nothing else I’ve experienced. The AI used here and the way that zombies aren’t always as dead as you think they are means that you never feel safe, always cautious as you head around every corner; even in the hallways you’ve walked a hundred times before. Resident Evil 2 is not just an amazing remake, it’s an amazing game across the board and one of the absolute best horror experiences of this entire generation. – Luke
#1 The Outer Worlds
When it comes to narrative experiences this year, The Outer Worlds definitely stands out. To be honest, in a sea of live service nonsense that developers are pushing, having a solid single player experience this year was a breath of fresh air. And that’s what The Outer Worlds was, a solid breath of fresh air. There was a strong story, well-written characters, and a fresh take on a formula that Bethesda seemed intent to run into the ground.
The game is so uniquely Obsidian. From the sassy AI, the poor shopkeep stuck in the moon mask, to the fun quest givers – the world was full of a narrative richness that feels so rare these days. A more linear structure to the core quests meant that the open world isn’t bogged down with repetitive pointless side-quests. Decisions on which skills to upgrade feel meaningful and useful. Some of the environments on the different planets are breathtaking at first glance and rich with life when you go deeper. Not to mention the incredible dialogue, which gives you plenty of options when it comes to responses and felt intelligent, humorous and above all, human. Conversation in games is an art form, and The Outer Worlds nailed it across the board.
A particular highlight for me personally was the companions. They all felt so lively and fleshed out, all with their own genuinely interesting quest-lines. My favourite was Parvati. She’s such a good egg, and watching her discover life outside her colony and explore the stars was definitely a highlight. I cheered loudly when, not only did she confide in me that she was asexual, but I had the option to be like “oh yeah, me too.” It was an amazing moment of representation, and watching her light up at the knowledge that there were other people like her out there was amazing.
Overall, The Outer Worlds is an outstanding RPG experience, and is more than worthy of being Checkpoint’s Game of the Year for 2019. – Hailey & Luke
Well there you have it, Checkpoint’s Game of the Year 2019. How does our list stack up to yours? What game made your top spot? Let us know and get ready to celebrate yet another year in gaming in 2020!