After two challenging games in the Demon Souls Remake and Returnal, the PlayStation 5 receives an exclusive that is much more friendly to players with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
The series has a storied history with the PlayStation consoles, having made its debut all the way back on the PS2, but has somewhat stagnated a little in recent years. In fact, the PS4 only saw one game from the franchise released throughout its run—a remake of the first game in 2016. Thankfully, the positive reception from that game has paved the way for another entry into the franchise for the PS5.
And Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart represents another solid entry to add to that list; featuring stunning visuals, fun gameplay and an interesting story that many will be able to get into and thoroughly enjoy.
This time, the duo have a new situation to deal with. Celebrations are underway as Ratchet and Clank are celebrated as galactic heroes, but the party is interrupted by familiar adversary Dr. Nefarious, who manages to grab ahold of a device called the Dimensionator, and the ensuing scuffle inadvertently transports all three to a different dimension. Clank gets separated from his partner in the chaos, but meets Rivet—another Lombax like Ratchet—who finds and picks him up.
Players will split their time between Ratchet and Rivet, as they attempt to fix the mess the Dimensionator has caused, which has opened dimensional rifts into the world. As a new character, Rivet is an excellent addition to the series. Wonderfully voiced by Jennifer Hale, the Lombax brings spunkiness, and as you play through the story, there is a lot to learn about her story, which brings extra incentive to care about her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes another appearance or even has her own spin-off game.
Similarly, the story campaign for the game contains a lot of heart as characters go through journeys of discovery, and is supplemented by very good comedic writing tying it all together; the game radiates Pixar energy all around, and it really is hard to find anything at all to be mad about.
In the game, while Rivet has her own set of dialogue to present her as a wholly unique character; functionally, she operates the same way as Ratchet – both for movement and combat. Ideally, I would have preferred if she had a specific special skill or trick that further set her apart from playing as Ratchet, but settling for her banter isn’t all bad.
As a sequel to ‘Into the Nexus’, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart may be a game that newcomers are hesitant to jump into first-hand, but while there are characters and references from the previous games, they certainly don’t detract you from following along with the story and enjoying the game.
Shootin’ and Rift Hoppin’
Behind every Ratchet & Clank game is a myriad of fun, creative weapons to play with, and Rift Apart delivers on that front as well. Fans might recognise old favourites within the roster, but there are also new ones to experience, such as the Ricochet, which repeatedly hits a foe as you continue pressing the R2 trigger. And each weapon functions uniquely from one another, so you never feel like you’re using the same one.
This is helped further with the integration of DualSense’s features. For example, various guns work differently if you pull the trigger halfway or fully; the Burst Pistol, for instance, fires a single shot when pressing it halfway but switches to rapid-fire once you hold your trigger down. There’s also interesting stuff done with the haptic feedback where the controller actually makes music from it—yes, tunes made from the haptics and not the in-built speaker.
Every gun gains XP the more you use it, which gives further incentive to switch around weapons to use on enemies. And you can further upgrade them by spending Raritanium—shards found within the world—for other benefits like increased ammo or rate of fire.
There’s also more manoeuvrability to be had while controlling either Ratchet or Rivet in terms of combat. For example, early in the game, you’ll be able to learn a dash move called Phantom Dash that quickly gets you out of danger from an enemy attack, all while looking really cool as well.
But perhaps the one mechanic that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is keen to tout is the use of dimensional rifts. Every so often, you’ll come across tears in the world, and with the press of the L1 button, you can hook on to them and transport yourself instantly to the area where the tear was.
The game not only makes use of these rifts as part of exploration—allowing you to get to normally inaccessible places—but also for combat. These rifts give you flanking opportunities to surprise enemies or help you get away from the area if things are getting a little too hectic to handle. It’s a neat addition to the series, for sure.
Besides shooting down the many goons that are after you, you’ll be spending much time just exploring the world. The game’s beginning starts off deceivingly linear in nature at first, but the areas begin opening up soon after with vast areas to roam around in; possibly some of the most extensive areas in the series.
The worlds you visit are also quite varied. There’s Sargasso, a swamp-like planet with areas segmented between by acid water that require a Speedle to fully traverse and get to other places.
Then there’s Blizar Prime, a world where mining operations spread across the land. The thing here is that the planet’s environment has been wrecked beyond repair, but there are Blizon Crystals scattered around, which revert the planet to a time before its collapse. Blizar Prime in particular, is a wonderful showcase of the SSD capabilities from the PS5; changing the landscape completely when you interact with these crystals.
Essentially, not only do most of the worlds have their own unique settings, they also feature special ways to explore them. And there are collectables like Raritanium and the familiar Gold Bolts that reward you for being thorough. One constant in almost all the planets is the rifts you can find that bring you to a separate inter-dimensional space. In them, you have some light platforming and at the end, receive a costume that your character can wear.
There are also side activities within the planets that you can do separately from the primary mission, like helping a character from the world or just searching through an area that may hold special items. Overall, there are a lot of things going on that mean there is always something you can do.
Ratchet and Rivet are the two that you’ll spend the most time with, but there are other sections where you’ll be able to play as other characters. Clank also gets into the spotlight, and playing as him is very different from the two Lombaxes in that his sections comprise mainly of puzzle-solving in order to continue further.
Then there are ones with Ratchet’s new companion Glitch, a program that helps to eliminate viruses from systems. Playing as the spider-like Glitch is more action-focused as you get transported into the computer systems and eliminate the viruses and their nests in order to unlock them.
These sections are rather short in length, but they are fun to go through. More importantly, they help freshen up the game with their varied gameplay compared to when you are either Ratchet or Rivet.
A Generational Leap
If it wasn’t said already, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a stunning game to look at. Every one of the game’s environments is vibrant and easy on the eyes. You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish it from a Disney animated movie; such is the game’s graphical fidelity.
More astounding is the fact that there are also many things happening in the background while you are playing the game. This isn’t just for the game’s set-pieces moments, of which there are several, but for the entire game. For example, an early part of Rift Apart has you in a market section, and there are a crowd of robots just whizzing by getting to their destination; it makes the location feel alive.
And that level of detail is also extended to the characters. If you take a closer look, you can see the fur-like texturing on the models for Ratchet and Rivet. From the main leads to even the mundane NPCs, all the characters receive the same level of care for their model work.
It certainly gives players more reason to use the included Photo Mode. If you are familiar with Insomniac’s implementation in the Spider-Man games, the one in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart pretty much falls in line with them as well. You get access to filters, stickers and you can customise your character to get that perfect shot.
In terms of performance, the game runs like a joy. Players are given three configurations at the start: Performance, Performance RT and Fidelity. I played the entirety of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on Performance RT and experienced no hiccup whatsoever; enjoying both the smooth 60 fps gameplay while visually feasting on the ray-tracing. Whichever you choose, you surely won’t go wrong.
I’ve already mentioned the SSD’s benefits for the level design, but it is also good to note that I’ve never once had to experience a loading screen because of it. Whether it is booting up the game or restarting after a death, it simply takes a couple of seconds before you’re back to playing the game.
There were only two instances of problems that I’ve encountered with the game. The first was it crashing when I died during a level—a minor inconvenience that did not elicit any further problems. The second though, was a more serious bug as it meant that I was locked out of getting one of the collectables in the game. Hopefully, it gets addressed soon by the developers.
If there was any doubt that developer Insomniac Games isn’t one of Sony’s top studios, they have been quashed. With Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, they have now created two must-play games for the PS5. The game is beautiful, heartwarming, and most importantly, an absolute blast to play.
Despite its cartoon-like facade, this is a game that everyone can enjoy. And even if you’re a newcomer to the series, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will surely make a fan out of you.
In-game Screenshots captured by Russell Matthew Low, on a PlayStation 5. Other Visuals courtesy of PlayStation.