Insomniac Games are no strangers to releasing excellent titles and as far as platformers go, well they’re one of the very best. Ratchet and Clank is their most famous franchise and Rift Apart is their newest effort on the PS5. Ratchet and Clank has always been the game to kick off a PlayStation generation, let’s see if that streak continues.
Ratchet and Clank have saved the galaxy so many times, they deserve a break. After a brief retirement, the galaxy throws them a parade in honour of their achievements. Clank is preparing to give Ratchet a gift capable of locating his long lost Lombax species. As expected, things don’t work out and the evil Dr Nefarious rears his ugly head and steals the gift, the Dimensionator. This device is capable of interdimensional travel and as Ratchet fights the Doc, it’s broken and begins to randomly open rifts to other dimensions, and they’re all transported to an alternate dimension. Clank is separated from Ratchet and is picked up by another Lombax named Rivet and Dr Nefarious discovers he is the ruler of this dimension.
Check out the launch trailer below:
While most of the adventure is what you’d expect, funny, cute and just a good time, Insomniac do an excellent job with pacing and escalation. After a bombastic opening, the game swaps between Ratchet and Rivet as their stories intertwine and slowly come together, it keeps things fresh and the game never pushes one character to the side. All the characters in the game, including side characters and villains, have their own motivations and small arcs to fill and Insomniac have done an excellent job presenting this. Escalation is important because while the game starts as a cutesy ‘Pixar’ esque title, the game moves towards something serious near to the end and it strikes that balance perfectly. All in all, it’s a wonderful campaign.
This might sound reductive, but it really isn’t, so stick with me. Almost all of the major gameplay elements are exactly as they were on the original PS2 release. Why isn’t that a bad thing? Simply put, nothing has needed to change. While God of War completely reinvented itself for the 2018 release, Rift Apart is dead set in its DNA, and that’s a good thing. So, as you’d expect you get crazy weapons that evolve as you use them and upgrade those with Raritanium, you hop from planet to planet, collect Gold Bolts etc. It all still works.
As far as the weapons go, they’re a little tamer than before. You get the standard pistol, shotgun, launcher, summon type weapons, but the more extravagant weapons aren’t exactly amazing. A gun that covers everything in foliage is the craziest weapon. It’s a little disappointing but hey, the weapons all do their intended job. There’s a slew of gadgets to help get you around, like a hookshot and hoverboots, these are cool enough, but the biggest change is the rifts.
The rifts come in two forms, one form is in combat scenarios. Here a yellow outline appears and after pressing a button, you pull that outline towards you and you’re essentially pulling that part of the game world to you. It’s a technically impressive way of teleporting. The other rifts are more story-based and they allow you to walk into another level, no really, you can look through the portal and see the entire level doing its thing and just walk in. It’s honestly mind-blowing and the game isn’t shy in throwing you from level to level in the blink of an eye.
The planets are bigger than they’ve ever been and two of them have crystals that when hit, completely change the timeline of the map, these are incredibly impressive. One planet has a combat challenge cup and there are plenty of collectables to keep you going. There are also pocket dimensions that have small traversal challenges to unlock cosmetics.
Insomniac have been blowing people away, graphically, since the PS1 and Rift Apart……is probably, no, is the best looking game I’ve ever seen. The cutscenes have achieved a level indistinguishable from Hollywood animation studios and the in-game graphics get so close to those cutscenes that I had to pause and check to see if ‘skip cinematic’ was available in the menu. In a sentence, every facet of the graphics is industry-leading. I swapped between the 4K/30 Fidelity mode and the 1080/60 RT mode and they were both excellent. The 4K/30 mode is locked down tight, even during the incredibly complex set pieces. The 1080/60 RT mode manages to look convincing against the 4K mode, but not quite there. The game seemed to have a few frame dips in this mode, but overall it’s a very good 60FPS. The soundtrack is outstanding and the voice acting is superb, a series tradition. Jennifer Hale as Rivet and Robin Atkin Downes as [REDACTED] are the highlights.
There was never any doubt about this game. An incredibly talented studio, excellent hardware and a winning blueprint…..it was obvious. In a weird way Rift Apart has an uphill battle to face in how it impresses, but golly does it. The story is deep enough to get you invested, but not enough to come across as cynical or forced, the combat does get a little repetitive towards the end and the roster of weapons is the weakest in the series, but the game is always fun. What else can be said about the technical aspects? In reality, this game is going to be the one that pushes other developers to the next level. Rift Apart boasts an excellent photo mode and has a slew of accessibility features, while not useful to me, it’s something all titles need to have. After a horrible year and a half, Rift Apart is the perfect game right now, it’s joyous and not afraid to just be fun. The only challenge? Finding a PS5 to play it on.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was reviewed using a digital code purchased by the reviewer.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Insomniac Games Release Date: 11th June 2021 Reviewed On: PS5