Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review - Two Lombaxes Are Better Than One
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Sony Interactive Entertainment
3D Platformer, Third-Person Shooter
Review copy provided by the publisher
We all know what it’s like to yearn for the experience of playing a classic PlayStation 2 or Xbox title for the very first time again. Even when we’re treated to remasters or backwards compatible titles, it just never seems to satisfy that feeling.
I’m happy to report that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has finally filled that giant nostalgic hole that has been inside of me for all these years. Now, I am fully aware that there have been numerous Ratchet & Clank titles over the years. Prior to Rift Apart we were treated to a reimagining of the original Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4 back in 2016. But it just didn’t quite give me that feeling of playing the original Ratchet & Clank games for the first time on the PlayStation 2.
If you’re a pre-existing fan of the Ratchet & Clank series, there’s no way you could pick up Rift Apart and not be exhilarated to go on another adventure with our favourite Lombax and Robot. Players will experience everything that made them fall in love with the series, a never-ending supply of unique weapons, the whacky characters you meet along the way, satisfying platforming elements, and intense combat.
Although Rift Apart is filled with familiarity, if you’ve never jumped into a Ratchet & Clank game before then there’s still plenty about the game that will appeal to newcomers. Our story begins with a teaser into Rivet’s dimension, followed shortly after with a transition back to Ratchet and Clank at a parade dedicated to their heroism.
The event is hosted by non-other than everyone’s favourite Captain Qwark and gives newcomers to the series a chance to familiarise themselves with the controls as Ratchet shows off his abilities to the crowd. During the parade, Ratchet is gifted a new gadget by his lifelong friend Clank – The Dimensionator. The purpose of the gadget was to give Ratchet the opportunity to travel into other dimensions and search for Lombaxes. As many fans will know, Ratchet is considered to be the last remaining Lombax alive.
Our celebrations are swiftly interrupted by the main antagonist of Ratchet and Clank, Doctor Nefarious. After stealing The Dimensionator from our heroes, our adventure begins as the two set out on a mission to retrieve The Dimensionator, repair the rifts that have appeared, and defeat Nefarious.
Along the way, we meet Rivet, who is the dimensional counterpart to Ratchet and a fellow Lombax. Players will be split between both Ratchet and Rivet during their missions in Rift Apart. Unfortunately not in a GTA V-esque style; instead, certain missions are only for Rivet and others only for Ratchet. My playthrough of Rift Apart felt like it was much more orientated towards Rivet, but that’s not a bad thing. After all, she’s essentially just another version of Ratchet.
Although Rivet did have her own personality and background story, it felt as though more could have been done to utilise the character and include different abilities and weapons specifically for her. Storywise, I understand it wouldn’t have made much sense for Rivet to have different abilities and weapons to Ratchet, considering they are dimensional counterparts.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed playing as Rivet and learning more about her origins, there was nothing to differentiate her from Ratchet in terms of gameplay and that felt like a missed opportunity. I’d be all on board for a Rivet spin-off with new features, abilities, and weapons.
That’s not to say there aren’t already plenty of weapons and gadgets to have fun with as both Ratchet and Rivet. As many fans will be a custom to, Rift Apart offers a large arsenal of weapons to use as you work your way through the game. There’s also plenty of different upgrades that are available to purchase with Raritanium. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and waste all of your Raritanium on the Burst Pistol; you could do more damage by throwing bolts at your enemies.
There’s also a great mix of platforming, combat, and puzzle orientated missions for players to explore. Each planet offers something for everyone, with various mini puzzles to complete as Clank or Glitch, whilst still staying relevant to the story. For example, Ratchet or Rivet will occasionally come across large rifts in the dimension which only Clank can restore. Players must then enter the rift as Clank and complete 3 sections of a mini-puzzle, which feels like a good relaxation point between all of the intense combat and fast-paced platforming.
Again, these are elements that existing Ratchet & Clank fans will know well. Insomniac Games clearly went with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, and I can’t blame them. But there are still plenty of new elements for existing fans to discover, such as the new phantom dash which allows you to evade enemy projectiles and traverse across platforms. Or the ability to tether yourself through rifts and teleport next to, or away from, enemies.
Although the classic Ratchet & Clank combat still feels fresh and fun in Rift Apart, boss fights felt like there was very little in terms of variation. All of the enemies looked different but felt exactly the same to fight. Not once during my playthrough of Rift Apart did I feel like I was going to struggle with a boss fight because I had perfected the shoot, move, and dodge technique that worked against every enemy in the game.
Rift Apart would benefit from simple changes when it came to enemies, such as a weak spot to aim for when battling, or a less predictable movement pattern for an increased challenge. But that doesn’t take away from how fun it is to wipe out Nefarious’ goons with a never-ending supply of over the top weapons. There are also plenty of different options to adjust combat difficulty to your liking.
For example, heading to the game settings allows you to adjust the aim mode, auto-aim, aim assist, lock-on, melee mode and much more. It’s always great to see a game with plenty of different options, meaning you can play how you feel most comfortable. I did find I was forced to adjust the camera sensitivity almost immediately, as the default speed made me feel like I was still playing a PlayStation 2 title. But once I cranked the camera sensitivity up to 10, everything felt like I was really playing on the next generation of PlayStation.
Speaking of next-gen, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart seems to have greatly benefited from not releasing on the previous generation of console. Rift Apart truly blew me away with the gorgeous visuals, fast loading times, and use of the DualSense controller.
The detailing in all of the characters, shadows, and particle effects really shocked me. I knew from the trailers that Rift Apart was going to be a gorgeous game, but Insomniac Games really knocked it out of the park. Rift Apart is the most visually gratifying game I’ve played on the PlayStation 5 so far.
Each planet and dimension offers a complete change in scenery and all look colourful, detailed, and damn right stunning. The futuristic cities are teeming with life; whilst desert biomes are large, vast, and filled with deadly creatures. There’s even an underwater level that takes Ratchet deep into the unknown.
The abilities of the DualSense controller are also put to good use. Rift Apart has various features for different weapons, much like Returnal, holding the right trigger down to the halfway point will offer a different firing mode compared to completely pushing the trigger in. Haptic feedback in the controller is just light enough to immerse you into the game even further, but not aggressive enough that it gets annoying. Even collecting bolts feels like they’re getting pulled right into the DualSense controller.
I’ve also never experienced a game load up so quick, Insomniac has really made great use of the PlayStation 5’s super-fast SSD. Rift Apart can put you right back into the action before your Twitter app has even had the chance to load on your phone.
All of these elements make for a phenomenal gaming experience that really makes you feel like you’re playing on the next generation of console. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart seamlessly integrates the new with the old, keeping the classic elements that fans know and love, whilst introducing new gameplay features to keep the series fresh.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Rift Apart has got the potential to be one of the biggest games of the year. Not only is it visually phenomenal, but the combat is fluid and the story is gripping. It’s everything you could want from a Ratchet & Clank game, plus more.