Checkpoint’s Game of the Year 2019 runners-up

Posted on December 24, 2019

We’ve already crowned our top ten Game of the Year 2019, but deciding was far from easy. Because of this, we thought it necessary to highlight some of the team’s other favourites worth celebrating that didn’t quite make the GOTY cut. Let’s go!

Kingdom Hearts III

Let’s face it, part of the reason Kingdom Hearts III deserves a mention is because it came out at all. The 13 years since Kingdom Hearts II led many to believe they’d never get to see the conclusion of this painfully long saga.

But then the game released in January, and did a lot of things well. Every battle felt like a finely tuned fireworks display. The worlds of classic Disney/Pixar films like Toy Story and Tangled could be fully explored. Most notably, it manages to wrap up the plots and character arcs of the two previous games – as well as the 7(ish) spinoff titles – in a truly satisfying way. Read our review for more details.

It wasn’t all perfect though. The Disney worlds didn’t add much to the overarching story, one major character is cringe-inducingly underutilised during the finale, and the upcoming DLC could potentially upend everything we thought we knew about the series. But none of that matters. The most important thing is, after 13 years, it finally came out. – Pedro

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Do you ever just play a game over and over and over again? You could have beaten it five or six times over, but you still keep coming back. It becomes comfortable, like a warm coffee on a cold day. For me that game is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That game, coupled with Ocarina of Time, got me through so many rough patches over the years. I don’t know what it was that kept me coming back. Maybe it was the beautiful sprite work, the fun grindy gameplay, or the ridiculous voice acting and hilariously fun and terrible dialogue. Whatever it was, it still has a hold on me. Symphony is still one of my favourite games after all these years.

So when I say Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a huge improvement in every conceivable way, you better believe that sentence holds some weight. It’s made by Koji Igarashi, the same guy behind Symphony, and most of the Castlevania games if we’re being honest, and it shows. The entire game feels like a greatest hits album: a little of Aria, a little of Portrait, a little Order, and a dash of Dawn. But Igarashi has also taken the time to modernise and improve the formula. Overall the game is a nice big warm cup of nostalgia, and definitely one of my favourites from this year. – Hailey

Death Stranding

Death Stranding is a pretty special game, after a few years of bizarre hype and rumours of a massive budget (I saw a reddit post that claimed $100 Million which is just simply not possible), it was unclear what this game would be. In fact some of us thought it would be caught somewhere between development hell and a producer that just didn’t know where to stop.

It is a relatively simple game in theory, cross what was the United States of America, connecting people alive and dead, delivering cargo. But it is tied with a gripping story. There is a lot of distance to cover, but it gives you time to process events and think about what is happening. At times you might just want to find a pretty spot, sit down and think about things. Sure it’s critically divisive and that’s fine, play it and see for yourself – Kolby

You can check out our review here.


When Judgment was announced at the Kinda Funny Games Showcase last year, I was beyond excited. Some months later the game released and it’s just brilliant. As a Yakuza fan, I recognise and understand how daunting that franchise can be with its large amount of entries. Thankfully, this spin-off that’s set in the same universe is a perfect starting place. It even has plenty to reel in longtime fans.

You play a charming Private Investigator that doubles as a lawyer, set to help prove a Yakuza member’s innocence in a murder. The story takes many twists and turns, has some fun investigative gameplay and combat all set in the big concrete jungle Japanese city of Kamurocho. It’s a bombastic romp with a very appealing cast of characters to boot.

Simply put, Judgment is a little bit Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and a whole lot of Yakuza. This game won’t make many Game of the Year 2019 lists, but if you love JRPGs and some good crime drama, I can’t recommend this game enough. – Charlie

Slay the Spire

Originally released in 2017 in early access, Slay the Spire quickly gathered a large online following. The game was released in full in January this year to much acclaim. Centred around a single-player deck-building experience with rogue-like elements, the game will have you progress through dungeons, fight monsters, and acquire new cards and other powers to help you slay the spire and win the game.

What makes Slay the Spire truly shine in my eyes, is its replayability. Since every dungeon map is procedurally generated, you never know what cards you will end up with and what powers you will acquire throughout a run. Playing as one of three characters with different quirks and perks, you’ll have to form a strategy on the fly without ever knowing what might be lurking just around the corner, making your 500th playthrough just as exciting as the first.

The developers have also continued to release patches with new content since its first release, and are currently finalising a fourth character for the game. These addictive core mechanics and thriving community will make sure Slay the Spire has something for everyone, whether you’re a Slay the Spire veteran or a complete newbie. – Lise

Apex Legends

In an industry overrun by Battle Royale games, I never expected a new title within this genre to win my heart. But Apex Legends was an absolute surprise, launching as one of the most polished and well-made Battle Royale games I’ve ever seen. With incredibly tight shooting mechanics, new ideas, and a revolutionary ping system, Apex Legends was ready to make its mark.

With so much competition it seemed next to impossible for a new Battle Royale game to succeed, yet Apex Legends absolutely killed it. We fell in love with the game’s style and even more so with the game’s cast of characters. Developer Respawn Entertainment weren’t afraid to showcase some amazing diversity within their characters and the game was all the better for it. With continued support and new content being added to the game throughout the year, it was always so easy to jump back into Apex Legends to see what was new. Not many games had me returning as often as this one. – Elliot

Pokémon Sword & Shield

No matter how much controversy surrounded this game’s launch, it’s so damn hard to stay mad at a franchise as lovable as this one. From the opening moments of the game I was swept back into my childhood and my blood was pumping with pure nostalgia. I didn’t think it would be able to have this affect on me, but Pokémon Sword and Shield had me hooked and I was immediately enamoured with the world laid out before me.

Sword and Shield will be remembered for introducing firsts for the Pokémon franchise. It’s the first mainline game to be found on a home console, it allowed players to rotate their camera for the first time, and created an open world with the Wild Area for the first time. It’s a game that’s helping to push the franchise forward and opens up new possibilities in the future. Not to mention the world itself is incredibly charming and has a beauty that hasn’t yet been seen within a Pokémon game. – Elliot

Yuppie Psycho

There are some indie games that earn their stripes and enjoy the limelight as an indie darling. But some, despite their quality, fly under the radar. So I’m here to present Yuppie Psycho as the game of 2019 that deserved so much more love than it received.

Utilising a beautiful pixel art style, Yuppie Psycho brings you a tale of the most horrifying place in modern civilisation: the cubicle farm. As good a joke as it may seem, developer Baroque Decay have put so much love and attention into this concept, and it shows. It twists the symbols of the modern day workplace into distorted horrific mutations. The result is a glorious little horror game with a surprisingly deep well of lore. Shower this game with love – Sam

The official review by Edie can be found here

Devil May Cry 5

I’ll admit to being a bit fresh to the Devil May Cry franchise. Maybe DMC5 is far from a breach from any kind of formula. But one thing I can say is that DMC5 is gloriously dumb fun.

Beating up demons with swords and shapeshifting and panthers, Devil May Cry 5 is all about the crazy arcadey gameplay. The characters are arrogant dorks. And yet, there is enough good storytelling that these characters can pull some melodrama out of nowhere. Oh and you can beat up demons with two halves of a freaking motorcycle too.

Not to mention that title sequence is just like… so much. It’s utterly ludicrous on the most joyous, five-year-old level. – Sam

Check out Cam’s official review here.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi is back, baby! This exploration bonanza combines what was great about the first 2 games in the series into a near masterpiece. The hotel is alive not only with ghosts but personality, making each goofy interaction a delight. It’s a scavenger hunt of epic proportions, with loot and gems hidden in the most creative of places on each of the 15 uniquely themed floors. 

The inclusion of Gooigi doubled the fun, allowing you and a mate to lay waste to the hotel together, and the battles with each floor’s boss ghost ranged from brilliantly creative to classic hit-the-weak-spot fun. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make it to Checkpoint’s top 10 Game of the Year 2019 list, but we are pleased to announce that it’s the winner of an even better award: the Best Video Game Doggo of 2019 goes to you, Polterpup! 

There you have it, some other games worthy of Game of the Year 2019 status as according to Checkpoint. What do you think of the list? Do you have any other favourites worth recommending? Maybe you even have your own formulated GOTY list? Share your thoughts with us!