Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review
PlayStation 5’s commencement to this historic generation has been quite the tumultuous initiation. A slew of incredible titles that are readily available for those lucky to have scored the scarce hardware from launch period, have notably escalated a mighty need for players that are ready to truly engross themselves within next-generation gaming. And while there have been primary samples of what’s to come, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is aptly titled as it proves to set itself apart from the rest. The series meteoric rise was due in-part of Insomniac’s unbridled success with Spyro: The Dragon. Struggling to conceptualise a sequel to the franchise, the property was sold to Universal, while the Burbank development studio was set on carving its legacy by expanding the team and looking towards an entirely new project.
Ratchet & Clank’s initial foray into the gaming world saw a meteoric rise, and was immediately praised by critics and fans alike. Spanning a near two decades, the franchise has had an interesting development cycle, coming from the once industry standard annual release, to triple-A cinematic experience. Apart some minor missteps, its litany of releases has been widely regarded as an outstanding platformer, that delivers quality and progressive ideas within each iteration. This notion is no different in Rift Apart, as the PlayStation 5 exclusive sets to place a precipice for what’s to come. It truly has launched itself ahead of expectations with an awe-inspiring display of dazzling visuals that are accompanied by the immersion of the DualSense and its haptic technology. Fans that are acclimated with the franchise will notice the inertia of Ratchet & Clank’s groundwork remain somewhat intact from its PlayStation 4 reboot, but its profoundly insane improvements are most certainly worth marvelling.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’s premise takes place sometime after the events of the series reboot, where the Lombax and his alloy ally are being welcomed to a hero’s celebration. The parade honour’s the duo’s selfless acts, ridding the galaxy of any meddlesome and maniacal menace that were initiated by the devious Doctor Nefarious. Living in relative peace and tranquillity for some time now, Ratchet is confounded by the sudden urge to celebrate the pair’s prior expeditions, and why they were whimsically heralded. It’s then revealed by Clank, that the robot had been hard at work repairing the Dimensionator – a remote device this able to activate portals to correlating dimensions. In an act of kinship, the amiable android’s sympathy motivates him in aiding Ratchet to find the missing Lombax Race, and his family.
The ceremony is then gate-crashed by Nefarious, whom the Lombax had referred to as MIA moments before he and his minions had ruined the festivities. The once antagonising figure, and bane to Captain Qwark had made his intentions clear towards the pair, that he was set on stealing the macrocosm-manipulating device, while eradicating the duo from existence. Without hesitation, Nefarious takes grasp of the Dimensionator but its usage is compromised when the Lombax launches a blast into its chamber, it causing multiple rifts to manifest across reality. Nefarious is able to use what’s left of the remaining device to open a rift, sending him to a dimension where the half-bot is an evil dictator that rules over the galaxy. While following him through the portal, they confront Nefarious but the Dimensionator self-destructs, separating the trio while causing Clank to lose his right arm.
Nefarious is found by minions of the alternate universe and taken back to his headquarters, while Ratchet is awoken in the back alleys of the dim-light cityscape. In what seems to be an oppressed, dystopian and fascist reality, Ratchet is now on the lookout for any clues of where his metal mate may have landed. Meanwhile, Clank is awoken to a Lombax who confronts the sombre robot. He is surprised to learn that a coinciding counterpart to his friend exists within this unorthodox reality. Rivet, a purple coated, female Lombax who entails a striking resemblance to Ratchet – only with more feminine features – comes to the aid of Clank, taking him on a journey through the galaxy to find Ratchet, while remaining suspicious of the Bot’s alignment. While traversing back to Rivet’s home planet, Ratchet infiltrates Emperor Nefarious’ quarters hoping to find the distracted Doctor in his chambers. There he discovers Nefarious conspiring to annihilate the opposing pair with Death traps and warbots, turning the metropolis into a police state with controlled surveillance.
A minor misstep causes Ratchet to be caught, with Nefarious demanding his minions to capture the Lombax. Making haste towards the Emperor’s ship, Ratchet boards the spacecraft and leaves evil dictator in his dust. The title’s opening moments deliver a premise that has a ton to dissect, but manages to deliver sequences with great detail and beauty. Insomniac’s writing team have come out the gate swinging with some astounding exposition and hilarious dialogue between all lead characters. The evil overlord is as goofy as ever, and the altered cast of familiar faces do exemplify their counterparts, dialling characteristics and general quirks to eleven. Demonstrating a narrative heavy campaign that leaps between cinematic to controlled gameplay is wonderous; incredibly seamless in this world.
I borrow this example from my Operation PlayStation co-host Jeremy Bratetich, stating the resemblance of transition is uncannily reminiscent of Insomniac’s Spider-Man, where the initial sequence of Peter rushing out his apartment window flows flawlessly from cutscene to gameplay. There are multiple instances of this occurring from beginning to end, providing an insight to how magnanimous of potential the PlayStation 5’s hardware truly is. Capable of blurring the lines and adding physical adjustment to a pre-constructed scenario for players to essentially carve out, elevates the immersive experience which Rift Apart demonstrates immaculately. It’s a chef’s kiss moment when the game applies a trademark of its fathering studio, and while there have been examples of this trait prior to this title, there’s been none other than Insomniac that have managed to make it into memorable moments each and every time.
✔️PlayStation 5’s greatest title yet. An alluring design, and discernible detail make for a unique entry into the franchise.
✔️Transitions between Cinematic to in-game are incredibly seamless. Taking a page out of Spider-Man.
✔️Introduction of outer world counterparts make for an extended cast that could potentially build upon Ratchet’s legacy.
❌Could have been a tad longer.
Maintaining the acclaimed formulaic groundwork that made Ratchet & Clank 2016 one of PlayStation 4’s essentials, Rift Apart builds upon the successes of its predecessor with some incredible developments. The topsy-turvy platforming, and ingenuity between the multiverse changes the dynamic of each biome every step of the way. Keeping things simple, both Ratchet and Rivets’ arsenal are mirrored, with only some artificial modifications made. Melee attacks are a staple, and approaching minions that spawn from rifts are made for easy combat for a great portion of the overall adventure. It is imperative that you explore enhancements towards artillery by visiting the Zurkon weapon vendor. Gathering cogs and gears are important to open up multiple branches in your skill-tree to allow improvements for offense, without it you will find the difficulty of the game gradually escalate.
Rifts are scattered within each area for Ratchet or Rivet to access. Pressing down on Circle will activate your tether to a portal that’s highlighted, transporting you across the land instantaneously. Using this mechanic in combat is real handy, and can be exploited for chain combos, or for easy getaway. Dashing through barriers, gliding through broad and open fields, wall-running and wall-jumping are all a delight, plus the addition of riding a sneedle will come in handy across muddy, polluted waters. Hazardous enclaves are natural in platformers, but using the Lombax’s ability to double-jump, mid-air dash then hover safely makes for some compelling moments, especially in expeditious getaways.
Obstructions to doorways and a multitude of paths generally coincide with puzzles that need to be solved within the encasing area. An example from the title’s onset is encountering a monster that Ratchet acquaints with, and labels “Juice”, an electricity conducing mutant that helps generate power through a yellow liquid it consumes. In one universe, the monster is absolutely rabid, attacking the Lombax while trapped within an confined space with the behemoth, while in another he aids the Ratchet by taking down a horde of Nefarious’ minions. The power plant generates the liquid that’s enclosed within vials attached to its interior. Smashing open the pipe will distract the mutant, while Ratchet tries to escape the room by activating the hatch, which takes some time. This is only a taste of the title’s creativity.
Over a dozen scenarios divulge a catalogue of styles that make for an intuitive gameplay loop. The offense and defence structure does get a little repetitive but bodes a promising escapade through each planet’s integral design. Speaking of design, this game is without doubt the best looking title on the PlayStation 5. Follicles of fur, Scratches and dents, lens flares and shaders are all textbook personification for what’s yet to come on this platform. Rift Apart’s futuristic aesthetic assists the blue brands assertion of an exclusive experience that you may not find elsewhere. Coinciding audio-visual with the haptics of the DualSense is – for the lack of a better term – sensational. Exploring through different environments, the dusty segue ways of a desolate planet with grass brushing up on you is felt at your fingertips. Jumping underwater and having the controller emulate a liquified impression upon your cognisance is enthralling.
The retention of the adaptive triggers gauge the pressure of your weaponry, allowing the pop of your gun to be felt – ala Astro’s Playroom. Clues are delivered through the vibration of the DualSense, discovering the existence of rifts and crystals within your vicinity, and of course the speaker on the controller itself heightens every encounter, incident and ordeal. The soundtrack that accompanies this feature is incredibly motivating. An overture that orchestrates intensity, with moments of solitude that contrast with some despair in each character’s resolve. It really strikes home a blockbuster Hollywood feature length presentation. The performances are portrayed with spectacular personality. This attributes to the legacy that the illustrious Jennifer Hale (Ducktales, Horizon: Zero Dawn) leads, portraying the purple furred Lombax, alongside series mainstays James Arnold Taylor (Final Fantasy, Star Wars), David Kaye (Psychonauts 2, Kingdom Hearts III), Armin Shimerman (Bioshock, Mass Effect), and the introduction of the esteemed Robin Atkin Downes (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Gears of War).
There’s so much more to say about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart that this Review would go on for another few thousand words, but I think you guys have grasped how incredible this game truly is. A visually stunning, tantalising, sensational expedition through what is now the Ratchet-Multiverse. The potential of this franchise expanding to uncharted territory has manifested through the introduction of familiar but fresh counterparts, along with its enticing allure that is unequivocally carved with care. Rift Apart sets an imminent promise to those that expect titles of the same calibre in PlayStation’s future, and if this is only just the beginning, then holy cow are we in for a stupefied generation of gaming. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart delivers on every imperative facet for compelling adventure. A lovable cast of quirky characters, the nefarious Nefarious and a surprising Nefarious that’s just as Nefarious as Nefarious (wink wink), a captivating universe that’s engineered from absolute insanity and an overture that will be repeated by muso’s that adore a great soundtrack. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is must have, essential gaming. It may only be June, but this is most certainly a Game of the Year contender.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a 2021 third-person shooter platform game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 5. It is the sixteenth installment in the Ratchet & Clank series.