It’s been a long time since the last original Ratchet & Clank game. But it’s safe to say that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has been worth the wait.
Once again finding Ratchet, the last Lombax, and Clank, his well-spoken robot friend, doing their best to save to save the universe, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart begins with a celebration. Catastrophe ensues, however, when Clank presents Ratchet with a present – something he calls the Dimensionator. He hopes it can be used to travel to other dimensions so that Ratchet can fulfil a dream of his – meeting other Lombaxes. But before it can be put to good use, the evil Dr. Nefarious swoops in to steal it for himself. A struggle for possession of the Dimensionator follows, which not only results in the device being broken, but also Ratchet, Clank and Dr. Nefarious being transported to a new dimension.
It’s in this new, rather gloomy dimension where players first meet Rivet, a tough female Lombax with a robotic arm. Separated from Ratchet, she discovers Clank and scoops him up, though she’s very wary of his story. And there’s good reason for her to be, being part of the Resistance. You see, in her dimension, Dr. Nefarious is much more successful as a villain. So much so that he’s the Emperor. And one that rules with an iron fist.
This is where Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart truly begins, and from this point on you’ll be switching between control of Ratchet and Rivet as they both attempt to fix their dimensional conundrums and deal with a duo of Narfariouses. Anyone that has played a Ratchet & Clank game before will find the gameplay very familiar; it offers a mix of third-person shooting, platforming and puzzling, all wrapped up in a story that has lashing of humour. Though Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart goes that bit further to make everything much more fast-paced, varied and, ultimately, enjoyable.
Ratchet and Rivet may indeed be two separate characters, each with their own personalities, but to make things easier in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart you’ll find that they share everything; bolts, guns, abilities, literally everything. They can both wallrun on certain surfaces, for example, dodge through or out of the way of attacks, and hover over gaps. Even more useful, they can both tether rifts in the environment to instantly warp to them. A set of jet boots are even obtained, allowing them both to travel across land at a breakneck pace and jump across large gaps. They particularly come in useful on some of the game’s more open planets that allow for a great deal of exploration.
When it comes to weapons, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart makes sure that Ratchet and Rivet are never short of something to wield. There are over two weapon wheels worth of guns and other implements of destruction to arm yourself with, though you’re sure to find a bunch that you like the most. Handily, you can customise your weapon wheels for that reason, giving you quicker access to the items you use the most. While most are original takes on conventional weapons – such as the shotgun-like Executor and the powerful rocket firing Peacemaker – there are some truly outlandish offerings such as the Topiary Sprinkler, which holds enemies in place with vines. And of course, each and every weapon can be upgraded with a resource called Raritarium, though you’ll need to level them up first by using them.
While you’ll spend most of your time in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart playing as Ratchet or Rivet, you get to play as some others, too. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in control of Clank, attempting to solve Dimensional anomalies via some thoughtful puzzle solving. Clones of Clank will run from the entrance of a chamber, and it’s your job to get them to the end. To do that, you’ll need to first collect orbs that can change how your clones and certain objects in the environment function, then place them, and yourself, correctly. Certain virus-ridden terminals also require you to take control of a spider-like character called Glitch, whose ability to walk on ceilings and walls will make your head spin. In these sections you’ll need to seek out the sources of the virus and destroy them, though they’re often protected by shields that need to be powered down by walking over switches first.
Needless to say, there’s so much gameplay variety found in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart that it keeps you glued to your seat from beginning to end. On the game’s standard difficulty, that’s something which will likely take most players about 15 hours if they engage in at least some of the game’s optional content. Many players will want to seek out and complete every Pocket Dimension, however, as well as complete all challenges in the Battle Arena, and find all of the collectables. For that, you’re looking at about 20 hours or more. And upon completion of the game a Challenge mode is unlocked, enticing players to make their way through it again.
Aside from being huge amounts of fun to play, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is also a showcase of what the PS5 is capable of. In Fidelity mode, it’s pretty much an animated movie you can play, with visuals so good you’ll be hitting that screenshot button every couple of minutes. It’s so much more enjoyable to play when using Performance or Performance RT modes, however, thanks to the improved responsiveness afforded by 60fps. And it still looks great in those modes too – far beyond what is achievable on last-gen consoles. It’s the dimensional shenanigans that really makes Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart stand out as something only possible on PS5 though; the way that you can move from one environment to another in the blink of an eye, sometimes quickly one after another. It’s sensational.
There’s great use of the DualSense too. Some weapons make distinct use of the triggers; the basic Blast Pistol has a low rate of fire if you only pull the trigger halfway, for example, but shoots much faster if you pull it all the way down. You’ll also experience a lot of sensations in the controller, such as light thuds when collecting bolts. And the speaker is put to good use to accentuate certain actions.
You know when a game’s truly spectacular when you have to nit-pick to find faults with it. Perhaps the humour doesn’t always hit its mark – I found Zurkon junior’s weapon previews a little irritating at times, for example. And having to go back to your last checkpoint because you fell into a bottomless pit you simply couldn’t see can be irksome. That’s about it though.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is easily the best game in the series by far. Though surprisingly, it isn’t the fact that it looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous that impresses the most. Instead, it’s the sheer variety of gameplay that Insomniac Games has managed to cram into its running time, with each and every aspect of it flawlessly complementing the others. With effectively zero loading times, from the moment you boot up Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart you’re engrossed in its engaging story and eclectic mix of third-person shooting, platforming, dimensional shifting and a whole lot more. And it’s all so polished that you could see yourself in it. If you have a PS5, consider this essential.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review: GameSpew’s Score