Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the latest game from Insomniac, creators of the Marvel’s Spider-Man PlayStation exclusive, and this is another iteration on the fast-paced action and adventure games Insomniac has been producing in recent years. Whether you are new to the Ratchet & Clank series, or a seasoned veteran, this one is bound to bring a smile to your face through its thoroughly enjoyable gameplay.
Rift Apart is simply a stunning game, there’s no question. Since the game was revealed in the summer of 2021, it’s demonstrated the power of the PlayStation 5 very well, feeling like you are playing a Pixar movie. This is a demo of what video games could be and it lives up to the promise of what the next generation can deliver. Spiderman Miles Morales looked great, but this is a whole different kettle of fish and specifically made for the PS5.
Rift Apart is the latest in the Ratchet and Clank series. If you’re new to the series then Ratchet is a Lombax and he has a little buddy called Clank, who is a tiny robot. Ratchet and Clank are a heroic tag team, who across a series of games have saved the world from the evil Dr. Nefarious (and other baddies too). As far as the story goes in Rift Apart, Ratchet and Clank are celebrating their latest victory and Clank presents Ratchet with a gift called The Dimensionator. This is a device that can open up portals to other dimensions, however, things take a turn for the worse when Dr. Nefarious steals it and escapes to a dimension where he always wins. Much like other Ratchet and Clank games, it’s your job to save the world once again.
Diving through holes to new dimensions is the key game mechanic in the game. Videos and clips don’t really do this justice, as experiencing the dimension jump for the first time is one of those wow moments that are only really made possible due to the power behind the PlayStation 5. We’ve seen this mechanic in games before, either time skipping or traversing into new environments quickly, but we haven’t seen anything on this scale before.
Insomniac have had plenty of practice over the last few years with Spider-Man in terms of creating fast-paced adventures, and lots of that is on show here. The story doesn’t really matter that much, it’s standard hero-save-the-world stuff. The package that has been put together by the team though is something to be experienced.
We have Ratchet and Clank in one dimension, but we also have Rivet and Kit in another. Rivet and Kit are new characters, and through the dimension-hopping Clank ends up with Rivet, with Ratchet hunting for his little buddy with the help of Kit. The story doesn’t have a huge amount of substance, but it’s a feel-good tale, again, similar to a Pixar movie.
Talking of Pixar movies, let’s talk about the graphics a little bit. They really knock your socks off, and you’ll be slack-jawed looking at the screen for most of the game. There’s the 4K, ray-tracing mode at 30fps, plus also a performance mode at 60fps. Both look and perform beautifully well, and if you have the hardware to cater for this visual treat, then I’d recommend doing so. The animation is fantastic and the worlds are big and vibrant. You’ll often pop between two worlds very fast, instantly loading in a whole new scene with buildings, characters, and all sorts.
In terms of levels then the gameplay is split between the main Lombax heroes – Ratchet and Rivet. Gameplay is pretty much ‘on rails’ and plays like a Ratchet and Clank game of the past which means plenty of platforming, shooting, and fast-paced action. You’ll make your way through the worlds, often switching between the two heroes at a moment’s notice gathering resources. One of the most important to collect is Raritanium, which is going to help you upgrade your weapons. You’ll want to do this because as you progress the weapons get crazier and more OP as you level up, and they are really going to help you out. Rift Apart can get tricky in places with the difficulty scaling up quickly as you progress, so having the right tools for the job is very important.
As you make your way through the planets, killing smaller enemies and collecting materials, you’ll build towards the final set piece of the level which will either be a chase sequence or a massive boss fight. There’s nothing really groundbreaking about these encounters, and we’ve been doing this kind of thing for years, however, the execution and sense of fun is an example for many other developers out there. This has the gloss of the PS5, and as well as showing off Insomniac’s ability to create exciting action and adventure games, it’s showing off the PS5 hardware and capabilities. Sometimes the game does veer into ‘tech-demo’ territory, much like other early-generation games of the past (thinking of Killzone). This is different though because the game is actually very good.
Dimension hopping has been front and center of the marketing campaigns. You’ll get out a little device, create a wormhole and jump through, and instantly the environment will change around you. This is the primary reason why this is a PS5 only game, the PS4 just couldn’t handle what this can do with modern hardware. The dimension-hopping is impressive, but the environments are equally impressive too filled with enemies and NPCs, this is one of the busier games I have seen related simply to how many characters are on screen at once.
As well as the action sequences, you also have the smaller, slightly less heart-pounding puzzles. There are hidden portals to find little pocket dimensions, and you’ll often find yourself trying to figure out which order to hit switches in and other puzzles of a similar style. These are like mini Zelda shrines and offer a nice respite from the action. That’s not to say the action isn’t welcome, because it is and Insomniac often look like they are flexing their well-toned action-game muscles to full effect. You’ll crash, hurtle and bag through big set pieces often in Rift apart and the game likes to throw as much debris as possible in your way. There’s plenty of particle effects and other PS5 jargon flying at you constantly, which makes the gameplay loads of fun and very memorable.
The weapons in the game are really great fun, with plenty of variety on offer. However, one criticism I have with the game is that I ran out of ammo quite often, which felt a little limiting in what I could do. I’d get into a flow with a weapon, and then run out of ammo and that interrupted the flow of the gameplay often. A couple of my favorite weapons included Lightning Rod, which as you can imagine by the description shoots electricity and you can chain enemies together with the lightning. There’s a couple of different styles, you’ll generally have guns or weapons you can throw. Do conserve ammo though, as running out can be frustrating.
Gameplay is switched up every now and again. There’s this great moment where Ratchet gets rocket boots attached and you end up skating quickly across this massive environment while trying to locate this huge building that’s making its escape on massive legs. There are neat little sections where you have to solve computer viruses with a little metallic helper who creeps inside the computers to smash the computer virus bugs. This mode plays with perspective, plus the haptic feedback on the controller is turned up to 11. I also really enjoyed the puzzles with Clank and Gary, where you have to direct a stream of Clank ghosts in a certain direction and open up the pathway to allow the Clanks to escape. There’s a good mix of gameplay styles and Insomniac has done a great job.
One of the things I really appreciate with the game is that it’s not too long, coming in at roughly 12 hours or so for a regular playthrough, and around 15 hours if you want to find all of the secrets. Not all games have to be 60 hours and I feel like this really respects my time. I’m not saying I don’t want more, because the gameplay is so fluid and fun I probably do want more, however, in my life at the moment this is the perfect sized game for me. I’ve been given enough, I’m left wanting more and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It doesn’t feel padded out or repetitive, it’s the Goldylocks of games and gets it just about right.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart looks like it could have come from the future to demonstrate what the current-gen consoles could do in a few year’s time, and it’s great to see games embracing the capabilities and showing off. This is a game that struts with confidence and checking out videos and streams doesn’t really do the visuals justice. It’s not just a good-looking game, the story is well-formed and flows with ease, the fluidity of the movement and action is hands down some of the best you’ll play and the sheen of quality shines through with every level and encounter. If you have a PS5, this is a must-buy title.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Platforms: PlayStation 5
Release date: 11th June 2021