Review – Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
If Spider-Man: Miles Morales reminded everyone why Sony was smart to tie down such a fantastic developer in Insomniac, then Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart cemented it. With its unique characters, family-friendly adventure plot, and top-tier graphics, there is little to dislike in this Lombaxian tale. Tale? Tail? Get it? Is this thing on?? Wow, what a tough crowd…
If you have played the previous Ratchet & Clank on PS4, then you are well prepared for Rift Apart. And if you haven’t, there is little worry about as well, as the story isn’t that complicated to grasp. Ratchet is the protagonist, Dr. Nefarious is the antagonist. Now that you are all caught up: while you are being celebrated for your 2016 victory, Dr. Nefarious attacks, hijinx ensues, and shenanigans occur. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart throws enough new elements at you, that the only thing you may be missing is side character knowledge to completely appreciate everything it has to offer.
With the day-one download, you can choose between three video output settings: Fidelity has the game running at 30fps at a 4K resolution with ray-tracing; Performance has the game running at a pristine 4K and 60 frames, while Performance RT has the game running at 60fps with ray-tracing, but at a slightly lower resolution. I picked Performance RT, and as soon as the game started, I could see just how beautiful the game is. I know it is way too common a simile, but the only thing missing to make this a proper Pixar-like are some dump truck moms. Eh! Amirite? Although, Ms. Zurkon may count now that I’m thinking about it. Mmmm! Wait, what?
Gameplay-wise, as always, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an action-adventure title with a minor degree in platforming. Go ahead and toss in a little bullet-hell action every now and then for good measure. You’ll jump and shadow-dash your way around and through enemy fire while using a massive library of utterly ridiculous weapons against them. Most sections will have portals that you can tether to quickly traverse around a battle and flank forces or avoid a massive attack.
Everything Insomniac learned from Spider-Man, benefited Spider-Man Miles Morales. Just like then, everything they learned from Miles Morales is to the benefit of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. With apologies to Keanu, the ray-tracing is just breathtaking. I found myself often looking into glass and metallic surfaces, or puddles of water, just to see how well objects reflected. The worlds created do an excellent job showcasing just how beautiful the game is. It doesn’t matter if it is the electric shower of neon lights through the city or being blinded by the setting sun while flying a dragon over a village, you’ll stop more than a couple times to launch into photo mode.
Movement was always butter smooth no matter the amount of action happening onscreen. Whether you are using your rocket boots, jumping through lots of portals, or taking on a horde of robotic pirate skeletons as you swing from ship to ship, moving about in the world at 60fps feels so insanely nice. It is easy to get pulled into a routine with these games where you find the two or three items you like the most and use those over and over, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is no different, but it does a fantastic job of convincing you to play otherwise. Throwing out a combination of weapons and attacks is far more effective, and fun, than sticking to just one. The weapon wheel remains brilliantly available to do so on the fly.
Maybe now is a good segue to the weapon system. As you progress through the game, Ms. Zurkon will make more weapons which you’ll be able to carry around. At first, they will only be available at base level but, the more often you use them, the more level-ups you’ll acquire. Each new weapon level allows you to upgrade it. The higher the level, the more upgrades available to you, with the ceiling being level 5. Once you complete the game for the first time, that changes to level 10.
Not to take a back seat to visuals or gameplay, the audio is outstanding in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. All the characters are played with all the heart and charisma that have come to be expected in Insomniac’s games, and the cast is excellent from head to toe. No story-driving character feels any less than any other. You will see a return of all your favorites in a new refreshing light. Even the weapons all sound unique, and when in combination with the DualSense, have a true depth to them. Add in the 3D audio, if using headphones, and every bit from action to voiceover feels amazing.
While on the topic of the DualSense (two segues back to back!), I give them a solid B for implementation. Astro’s Playroom and Returnal are the gold standard that other games should use as “how best”, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart still makes solid use of the controller’s features. Just like Returnal, weapons have a two-tier function by pressing down half way on the right trigger, and then by fully pressing down. Unlike Returnal, there was rarely a reason to switch between the two. I simply found myself fully pressing R2, continuing to fire while I ran, jumped, portal’d and dashed through combat. LT is used to aim, if that is your thing.
Other than that, you get some effects to help immerse you in scenes. Skating down a rail may give off a grinding sound and feel. Some sounds will play through the speaker to add an unconscious 3D sense to it all. It makes use of all the selling points behind the DualSense, but it doesn’t set the bar on any of them.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart felt a bit odd at times for me, as it plays more like “Ratchet & Rivet“. Clank has always been used as the sidekick and as a break in gameplay, and that doesn’t change here. You only really play as Clank during a few dimensional puzzle scenes to break up the main game play. During these scenes, you figure out a string of puzzles to get from point A to point B. Maybe it is because of the inclusion of Rivet as a major playable character, but Clank sometimes felt marginalized.
Glitch, a small cyber bug used to hack terminals, is another tool Insomniac uses to break up the gameplay. In these sections, you walk around three-dimensionally, clearing computers of viruses. The beautiful thing Insomniac does is that, if either the Glitch’s or Clank’s parts feel forced to you, you can quickly skip them altogether with a click of the button. I rather enjoyed the sections, but they give people that feel differently that option. I loved the inclusion of Rivet and Kit into the game, but I just want to make sure it is mentioned that Clank can feel pushed to the side a bit. This is Ratchet’s and Rivet’s story.
I have raved about this game, and deservedly so. However, there are issues to mention. Not many, granted, but some. I have had the game crash for some friends of mine. The culprit seemed to be them running the game in Fidelity mode. The handling of 4K and ray tracing may have been too much for the system to handle. I have also received a video or two from them simply falling through the game world.
I, personally, have also had some glitches happen through my gameplays, but not to those extremes. The most common would be when, ironically, playing as Glitch. I would get stuck to an area when climbing from floor to ceiling. I would also have to redo an area where an animation was not kicked off properly (using sniper gun to clear an area before being close enough to activate animation) or an enemy becoming trapped inside an area that I couldn’t reach with my weapons.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart comes at a time when these next-gen consoles are in their most infant stages. I would even say that it is the first true, new gen AAA title to release since launch. But Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart would be refreshing and extraordinary no matter when it came out this generation. It may not be your favorite new gen title, but even the most bitter of fans will have to admit this isn’t just one of the best first year launch titles so far, this will be one of the best titles this gen, period.
Insomniac did something great in reminding us that the best of games can still just be fun. That doesn’t mean to toss away narrative or to do without seriousness, but that a game doesn’t need to rely on them. PlayStation has been knocking them out of the park this gen, yet somehow Ratchet & Clank finds itself standing a Rift Apart of the competition.
It doesn’t get much better than Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The fidelity, the performance.. a brand new bar has been set.
A few glitches resulted in some forced level restarts, but the consistent 60fps added to classic and excellent R&C action is something to experience.
Excellent voice cast re-establishing fan favorite characters to perfection.
Not everyone will appreciate the puzzle quests and some may miss the classic Ratchet & Clank teamwork, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is still one hell of a good time.
Final Verdict: 9.5
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is available now on PlayStation 5.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.