Ratchet and Clank : Rift Apart has been poised to play the role of a PlayStation 5 showpiece since the trailer debuted. Designed from the ground up for Sony’s next-gen console, the latest entry in the long-running third-person action-platformer series has set its sights on two goals: to be impressive and to be fun. While somewhat familiar in the narrative department, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart have been more successful in these endeavors.
As the 16th entry in the Ratchet and Clank series, Rift Apart has a long history. Fans explore the history of Lombax, time paradoxes and many other hilarious scenarios that make for the perfect action platformer. They know exactly what they’re getting into when it comes to the Ratchet & Clank franchise, and Insomniac Games doesn’t usually shy away from that. Even without too many surprises, the setup in Rift Apart is familiar and hits all the expected notes.
As the title suggests, Ratchet and Clank are once again separated but working together toward a common goal. Ratchet sometimes flies alone before meeting a new sidekick named Kit, while Clank is paired with Rivet, a mysterious female Lombax voiced by video game veteran Jennifer Hale. The RC find themselves in a different dimension thanks to Dr. Nefarious, and they must find their way back home while competing with pirates, Goons, and native monsters, among others. Rift Apart has much of the same planetary chart excitement as past games, just with a next-gen polish. The sense of humor remains spot on, there are plenty of interesting characters to meet along the way, and there are some great moments for longtime fans of the series.
It may feel routine, but the Rift Apart has enough heart to help keep it moving and enjoyable. Rivet is a great addition to the roster, bringing a new dimension to Ricky and Clank’s characters through their interactions, while also developing her own story. The concept of another dimension is well utilized, and Insomniac made sure to give longtime fans as much storyline as possible. At its core, Ratchet and Clank emphasizes family-friendly fun, and Rift Apartis is no exception.
While the characters have effectively become Sony’s mascots, Ratchet and Clank games have always been about the arsenal, and Rift Apart takes things to the next level with the help of the PS5. The old standbys (or repetitions of the old ones) still exist, but the ingenuity of the new and modified weapons is simply astounding. With the power of the PS5, simple weapons take on a ton of personality due to the damage they can inflict. The way the particle effects splatter across the screen is simply dizzying, and the interplay between the different weapon types is always exciting. Using a two-page weapon wheel to juggle weapons is a bit clumsy, but it’s not a huge hindrance to the grand scheme of things.
Often, players find a few favorites in shooters and stick to just those. But in Ratchet and Clank : Rift Apart, there are so many interesting weapons with different functions that it can be difficult to choose. Some weapons deal pure damage, like the massive Devastator shotgun or the Warmonger rocket launcher. Crowd control related weapons like the grenade-like Shatterbomb and the Topiary Sprinkler, which completely covers enemies in foliage. And pure Ratchet and Clank weapons like the sidekick Mr. Fungi and the aptly named Pixelizer. Players can be paralyzed by choice, but the game actively encourages the use of each weapon through its XP-based leveling system. As the player wields a weapon, they earn XP and unlock 5 different levels before the final form changes the weapon in some neat ways. Each level unlocks new nodes on the upgrade board, such as more ammo reserves, faster fire rate and damage, and more unique upgrades by unlocking all the nodes around.
Switching between over a dozen different weapons helps make each enemy encounter feel fresh, but it also looks incredible. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is an amazing game worth seeing from every angle. Ratchet and Clank designs have never looked better thanks to the fur texture of the former and the reflective metallic texture of the latter. Each planet the player visits has a unique design sensibility and style. The tone and theme of many of these environments should be familiar, but players have never seen such detailed rendering. Then, when things start to change, the game kicks into another gear.
When platforming, gunplay, iconic slides, and boss fights all come together, Ricky and Clank : Rift Apart is second to none. Insomniac showed off some incredible sequences in Spider-Man: Miles Morales that showcased the potential of the PS5, but Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart blew them out of the water. There are some set pieces in Ratchet and Clank that, while linear in approach, have so many explosive moments that it’s dizzying. Clearly, dimensional rifts are a key point in the game’s marketing, but even more traditional RC segments like grinding on rails are dialed up to 11. Yes, in many cases these sequences are more about the visuals than the gameplay, but that’s hardly an issue at the moment. Chaotic shootouts are often just the other side of these brilliant sets.
Even if Ratchet and Rivet are just trying to survive with their arsenal, there’s a lot to like and appreciate about this game. Different enemy types and attack patterns will always keep players on their toes, and some cool movement abilities like time dash and “rift tether” help characters quickly get out of danger or flank them for a better angle. Once players become familiar with the different moves, gunfights turn into a destructive ballet, as each enemy can take combat damage. Boss fights push this concept further, as hulking enemies start to take more punishment. Insomniac also does a lot of cool things with scope and scale when it comes to larger encounters, giving the feeling that the player is tearing through a row of bad guys or literally taking down a giant enemy.
Rift Apart does try to break up some of the gameplay with more puzzle-oriented segments, many of which involve Clank. During these lemming-esque sequences, the game strays away from gunplay and platforming to offer something slightly different. There aren’t many of them, but these pieces help keep Ratchet and Clank from feeling too predictable, while also engaging players in new ways.
Ratchet and Clank: Much of Rift Apart’s promotional material focuses on dimensional rifts, and while they are a key element of the story and visuals, they are not integral to the gameplay. Ratchets/Rivets sometimes skip dimensions, but they’re either scripted or necessary to progress. Those moments where the game does pull the player through the cracks are visually cool and technically impressive, but they’re not as common as some might expect.
In addition to being beautiful and diverse, each planet in Rift Apart typically has some side activities and collectibles for players to pursue. The core campaign is only about 8-10 hours long and fairly linear, but there’s a lot to do in each environment besides advancing the story. Raritanium is scattered throughout each level and is used for upgrades. The Golden Bolt is once again the game’s signature collectible and unlocks rewards like the Big Head mode and Wrench skin. Armor pieces are hidden in pocket dimensions, and small platforming puzzle areas seamlessly pull players out of the main level. It wouldn’t be a Ratchet and Clank game without collectibles associated with special weapons. With several difficulty levels, a new Game + Style option, and all the aforementioned goodies, it’s a long way from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. But even if players only want the core experience, they’ll want something special.
In addition to taking full advantage of the PS5 for stunning visuals, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart also takes full advantage of the DualSense controller for a deeper sense of immersion. Like Returnal, the game utilizes adaptive triggers to simulate two types of trigger pulls, usually a half-press of one option and a full pull of the other. It also features more personalized force feedback pulses based on the character’s interaction with the world. Whether it’s the tiniest hum of Ratchet collecting the last bolt on the ground, or the louder vibrations as the world around him falls apart, DualSense helps make these interactions feel personal. It’s not all that different from what other PS5 games do with the controller, but it still works.
Ratchet and Clank : Rift Apart hasn’t shied away from the series’ charm and humor, and it delivers everything fans have come to expect from a new game. Smooth animations, over-the-top gunplay, action-packed platforming, and some fun puzzles are the keys to the series’ success, and Insomniac Games isn’t going to change that formula right now. What the developers have done is take advantage of the power of the PS5 and make everything bigger, more refined, and full of detail.
As far as next-gen exclusives go, Ratchet and Clank : Rift Apart is the most important. It has visual impact, mechanical sound, and variety, and it takes advantage of additional features associated with the new platform. Some might be disappointed by the story, but overall, the dimension-hopping adventure is exactly the kind of fun experience Insomniac Games has delivered from the start. At a time when there aren’t many games that emphasize the power of next-gen, Ratchet and Clank : Rift Apart showcases gaming’s next big leap forward.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart will be released on June 11, 2021 for PS5. Game Rant obtained the code for this review.