It’s been almost 20 years since the first Ratchet & Clank game released.
Since then, the heroic Lombax and his metallic companion have been on countless adventures across multiple PlayStation consoles. Heck, they even made it to Mobile! But now, they get to join Miles Morales as another title which Insomniac made to welcome the PlayStation 5 to market. Again.
Taking place a little while after Into The Nexus, Rift Apart starts with a parade to celebrate our heroes. Captain Qwark and Skidd return to recount these endeavors, as you learn how to play the game. If you’ve played before, I’m sure it will feel the same, yet somewhat new (we’re getting to that). As are all things Ratchet and Clank, it quickly falls apart thanks to Dr. Nefarious and the Dimensionator from previous games. Rifts begin to swiftly break borders between dimensions, as our heroes are forced into their most chaotic journey yet.
AND THEIR MOST BEAUTIFUL.
With the advent of the ever growing triple A market, visuals have become one of the bigger focal points for the player. While many approached the release of the PlayStation 5 with some reluctance, due to the notion they weren’t seeing enough improvements in this field, Rift Apart comes in with all weapons locked and loaded. This is an Insomniac masterclass for the PlayStation. Everything about Rift Apart feels like a showcase of this knowledge and skill they’ve produced since the PlayStation 1’s Spyro The Dragon. While Miles Morales impressed, especially with Insomniac providing the tools to switch between Fidelity and Performance for players, this is turned all the way up in Rift Apart.
It’s like playing a goddamn animated movie.
The power of the PlayStation 5’s SSD sees loading times reduced to almost nil. This means you’ll move through this gorgeous world with the greatest sense of immersion I’ve felt yet. How the world looks, from lighting and effects, through to the tiniest of details like fur, pulls you in with ease. Whether this was their intention with the animated feature and game of 2016 is still up for debate, but we see it wholly realised in Rift Apart. The insane weapons of Lombax-past return, looking even more destructive and stunning. And thanks to these graphics, the ‘noise’ of battle isn’t overwhelming due to how clearly you can see everything.
Controls remain much the same, with most major changes coming in mobility. It may be Insomniac’s time on Spider-Man which made them want to provide players with more ways to keep moving, and moving FAST. Rift tethering and Swingshots are appended to L1, while Hoverboots are on R1 with acceleration applied to R2. Sprint is L3, but I found the use of this drops off mid-game. This is when you’ll start to combine the Phantom Dash skill with other moves. The skill, bound to circle, sees your after-image cross the screen, as you don’t exist for a moment. Yes, damage is completely negated while dashing. Auto-strafing enables in battle, moving focus to the front and further enabling players to keep moving quickly. Adaptive triggers are utilised, as they ‘recoil’ when fired. Along with this, half and full trigger also produce different shot types. While other games have attempted this, I feel Rift Apart executes it sensationally. It really did feel like I had a whole new input style for the triggers.
How the characters move, and the world around them too, is remarkable.
I didn’t suffer much clipping, especially with how frenzied fights can get. Hand-off between melee weapon, to dash, to strafe-flip to weapon wheel, to weapon shot, felt like a whole new world of control and ease. But that’s only in the fights. The world itself is a feast to explore, with the liveliness from the trailers not being some “PlayStation 6” trick. Worlds are bustling with life, as conversations take place all around you. You can sometimes join these in-game, bringing more life to an already lively game. And sometimes these just handover to a “cinematic”, though it feels hard to call them that, when again, it’s just the game being constant in its immersion and play.
The story is classic Ratchet.
Ratchet and Clank things happen. They need to save the universe(s). They go do that. But this time they have help. We now know them as Rivet, played by Jennifer Hale, who is another Lombax we get to play as. With dimensions in play, they may or may not be another version of Ratchet, who is starting to experience their first Ratchet-like adventure. This provides a nice mirror to how Ratchet feels in the wider context of the lore, and also an interesting way to reboot the franchise (again). And because she’s this other Ratchet, they both level and earn the same skills as they go, because parallel universes! And Rivet stands toe-to-toe with Ratchet and Clank in the heroics. Fun, independent and gung-ho; They react in ways Ratchet and Clank may have forgotten how to, simply due to the amount of adventures they’ve had. Come games end, I was excited to see what comes next for them.
Insomniac make GREAT games.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart following Marvel’s Spider-Man, which followed the overlooked Sunset Overdrive, which followed their fun foray into FPS with Resistance reflects this. The incredible amount of fun I had in Rift Apart, along with all the loud, audible reactions I made, had me feeling every nostalgic moment similar to playing a great game for the first time. The amount of replay value the game has, along with the stunning cast and diverse ways of playing (you thought it was just a platformer?), just adds to an already incredible portfolio from the developer.
This game is the reason to have a PlayStation 5.
If PlayStation, and their teams at PlayStation Studios Worldwide keep producing these types of games, then your reasons to own the console will only grow more and more. Because if they all look this incredible, sound this good, and play this wonderfully, then we’ve got a lot of great gaming to look forward to.
Insomniac stand up there as one of the best right now. With the ways they utilise the hardware, and push it to get what they need from it, shows their capability as one of the best developers for PlayStation. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart isn't some return to form. Insomniac's consistency for producing fun, memorable games, which entice players into playing through them "one more time" is exemplified in this title. And if there's any lack of it, they show that they'll always have it the next time around.
If 'MUST PLAY' can be applied to anything, then I think Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart fits the bill entirely.
XENOJAY.COM was supplied with a digital copy for review by Sony, and this was played on the Playstation 5 console.