It’s been eight years since we’ve had a sequel to the main storyline of the Ratchet & Clank series. Being a long-time fan of the franchise, I was both super hyped and low-key sceptical when Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was first announced.
Mostly brimming with high expectations for the game, my initial reservations resided with the fact that so many “new” characters are being introduced. But looking back after roughly 14 hours of gameplay and having achieved 100% completion, I can honestly admit that I fretted over nothing because Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart exceeded my every expectation.
In fact, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is quite possibly the first PS5 game I’ve played that manages to harness the full power of the beast that is the Playstation 5.
Developed by Insomniac Games, the studio behind acclaimed games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Spyro the Dragon series and Sunset Overdrive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the 9th mainline instalment (17th Overall) of the long-running Ratchet & Clank franchise that began in 2002 on the Playstation 2.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart follows the titular heroes on a brand new, save-the-world adventure of epic proportions. When the device, aptly named the Dimensionator, causes Ratchet and Clank to travel to a parallel dimension, they end up going head-to-head with the more competent and terrifying dimensional counterpart of their arch-nemesis, Dr Nefarious. Cue multi-dimension saving shenanigans and wonderful cathartic destructive fun as the heroes race to save the day!
For the duration of Ratchet and Clanks’ journey, they meet other-dimensional counterparts of characters from their dimension. There are plenty of familiar faces that returning fans will recognise but the newest star to arrive is none other than Ratchet’s dimensional counterpart, a badass female Lombax named Rivet.
Rivet is a brand new playable main character and in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, players will be able to alternate playing both Ratchet and Rivet.
Rest assured, Insomiac Games hasn’t forgotten the core elements that make a Ratchet & Clank game so well-loved – humour, emotion and blowing shit up. And in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the elements are still very much present even if the developers have taken a huge leap by splitting the focus away from the titular heroes to introduce new ones for us to fall in love with.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has just the right amount of exposition, particularly at the start, that newcomers to the franchise will be able to follow and enjoy the story without needing to google for context.
That being said, veterans of the franchise will certainly get a bigger kick out of meeting dimensional counterparts of characters from previous games, having had prior context for certain conversations and being able to spot cosmetic and personality differences.
Either way, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is still a very good jumping point for those who want to get in on this wonderful series.
Where Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart truly shines, however, is its gameplay. Matched with the sheer power of the PS5, I caught myself marvelling at my first true next-gen console gaming experience. As an action platformer, the greatest feat that this game has achieved is how insanely smooth and seamless traversal works.
Classic moves like the Grind Rail, Magna Boots and Double Jump make a return, and yes, they’re fun – especially when used in various combinations on land and mid-air. But then Insomniac Games proceeds to blow us all away with the introduction of Rift Tethers.
Now that the worlds’ dimensions are falling apart, dimensional rifts can be found everywhere and players can take advantage of these rifts and increase their mobility by “teleporting” to a rift with a click of a button.
Whether you’re simply exploring the map or right in the chaotic midst of battle, the “teleporting” transition never fails to be smooth, seamless and gorgeous.
You will also unlock the Phantom Dash, which not only helps you extend the distance of your jumps significantly, it also acts as a “phasing” mechanic to help you dodge enemy attacks – completely changing up the conventional jump-to-dodge mechanic.
On top of that, you’ll unlock even more traversal items along the way, making movement one of the most exciting and fun aspects of the game.
Another gameplay mechanic that knocked it out of the park was how the developers have utilised the Dualsense Controller. Not only can you feel the haptic feedback when traversing around the worlds, but also during cutscenes.
It’s hard to put down the controller when cutscenes are filled with so many haptic touchpoints, such as when Ratchet is using a keyboard or when the steering wheel pops out of your ship – all of the distinct sensory feedback can be felt in the palm of your hands.
The developers have even customised distinct feedback for every weapon, giving each gun a unique feel when you fire it. The adaptive triggers provide added resistance that makes it feel like you’re actually pulling a different trigger on each gun.
The adaptive triggers were also used to give some weapons different “firing modes”, for example, you can pull the trigger halfway to shoot slower or pull the trigger all the way down to shoot both barrels of your shotgun instead of one.
It’s great to hear the interactions between characters during exploration and combat, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment. Some enemies will even bemoan the name of the weapon you’re using to obliterate them, which is an entertaining though small detail..
Puzzles also make a return, albeit not as many as some veterans might prefer. There’s even a skip function for those who can’t be bothered with them. Puzzles aren’t really my thing, so I appreciated the fact that they weren’t too difficult or lengthy.
My only issue with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is enemy diversity, specifically bosses. I felt like there weren’t enough enemy character models and I was probably demolishing the same (looks-wise) boss/mini-boss over and over again – which was probably the only disappointing part of the game.
Thanks to the PS5, the environments and visuals of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart are absolutely stunning. Each individual world has its own personality, filled with unique flora, fauna and creatures – even if it is meant to be a mere barren wasteland.
Characters’ facial expressions and emotions are all perfectly depicted in glorious 4K, making it an immersive joy to watch on the big screen.
I reviewed this while playing Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in Fidelity Mode (better graphics, lower FPS) and not once did I experience a significant framerate drop – not even during the most butt-clenching, frenzied moments of battle with a gazillion bullets, lasers, nuts and bolts soaring in all directions!
Without a doubt, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in a long time. The story is engaging, graphics are a true next-gen wonder and the gameplay is just so goddamn fun.
If 14 hours of content isn’t enough, there’s even a “New Game+” mode that allows you to carry over all of your existing weapons to a new game, where you can grind at higher difficulty levels and further upgrade your weapons.
It’s just tantalising enough that I’ve already started on a second playthrough.
Insomniac Games is on a one-way train to smash hits with their recent titles, and now with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, I don’t think anything can stop them.
If you own a PS5, I highly recommend that you get this game even if it’s for the simple reason of experiencing what the action platformer genre is able to accomplish on a next-gen console.
As for me, I’m gonna finish my second playthrough and maybe a third, followed by feverish praying that Insomniac Games has already started on plans for a sequel.