Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review — A Crown Fit For a Lombax
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart developer Insomniac Games has been on an absolute roll in recent years. With 2016’s terrific Ratchet & Clank remake in its recent library along with the wildly popular Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, it wasn’t a surprise to see a new entry in the studio’s longest-running series generate the kind of buzz it did. It’s also a game that I’d struggle to discuss and dissect without first getting straight to the overarching point: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is not only the best game in the beloved series — it’s also the most visually impressive, nuanced and satisfying PlayStation 5 exclusive to date. Much of what it has to offer is drenched in both a polish and confidence that demonstrate both Insomniac’s understanding of what it means to us as a series, as well as the studio’s desire to show off the full power and potential of the new console generation.
Believe it or not, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the sixteenth game the iconic duo have appeared in together, with eleven of those making up their mainline canonical series. In this direct sequel to Ratchet & Clank: Nexus, we find the pair being treated to a parade as Clank reveals that he has managed to repair the Dimensionator — an ancient Lombax artifact that allows its wearer to open and access portals to other dimensions. With the duo now ready to search for Ratchet’s long-lost family, the parade is inevitably crashed by the nefarious, well… Dr. Nefarious, who attempts to steal the Dimensionator. His attempt fails, because of course it does, and Ratchet accidentally fires the weapon off during the ruckus, opening dimensional rifts all over the place and transporting himself, Clank and Dr. Nefarious to an alternate universe before it explodes. Because of course it does.
The less I say about the story, however, the better; the narrative itself does a fantastic job of propelling you forward through important plot points, intriguing environments and admittedly emotional moments. Unfortunately, although the pacing was fantastic throughout the story, everything felt like it wrapped a little too quickly. Clocking in at just over eight hours, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart never overstays its welcome, but it still feels a bit short, much like Spider-Man: Miles Morales. With that being said, the game thankfully does allow you to retrace your steps before the final battle, a great time to track down collectibles you’ve missed, upgrade your weapons and unlock trophies.
The franchise’s newest addition, the Jennifer Hale-voiced Lombax named Rivet, serves as a fantastic counterpart to Ratchet and finally adds some clarity to the overarching narrative that has driven the series for so many years. A very worthy playable character, Rivet comes complete with her own backstory and motivations, a deep and nuanced piece of the puzzle that I definitely see fitting into the franchise for the long term. It’s a little disappointing to see that her motivations take a back seat for a significant portion of the story, as her introductory movements are so incredibly memorable. It’s also worth noting that both Ratchet and Rivet visit some incredibly interesting and dense locations and environments across multiple planets, from lush forests to run down bars and clubs. The colour palette is bright and vibrant and there’s always something to gawk at, be it in the distance, or up close and personal.
Narrative and pacing aside, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart plays as well as any other Ratchet & Clank iteration has. The third-person action is as solid as you’ll remember it, but with a few welcome quality-of-life improvements that make it even sweeter, while swinging Ratchet’s iconic wrench around is fluid and responsive and gunplay is snappy, punchy and overall enjoyable. A range of new and recurring weapons at your disposal ensures that variety is the name of the game, but the fact that all of your weapons are upgradeable means that there’s plenty of room for development if you prefer to use particular ones. The combat as a whole isn’t drastically different from any other game in the series, but it didn’t need any major changes to begin with, so it’s a welcome formula that provides functional — and downright addictive — moment-to-moment gameplay.
Traversal is where things start to get interesting. Due to the multiple rips in space and time, players are able to zip around between different environments, with some set pieces allowing you to fly in and out of various dimensions. With a few iconic franchises making an appearance, it’s amazing to experience just how an older series like Ratchet & Clank has learned and developed based on the progression and advancement of similar games within the genre. Seeing characters fly in and out of these rifts in space and time is truly a marvel to behold, giving way to some incredibly tense and cinematic moments, all while showcasing the true power of the PlayStation 5. There’s so much going on during these events that I’m still struggling to comprehend the fact that it all runs so smoothly and without any slowdowns or graphical compromises.
It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, but for the purposes of this review I must reiterate that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart genuinely feels like playing through a Pixar film. Yes, it’s a big call, but it might not only be one of the best games on the PlayStation 5 to date — it might be one of the best-looking games of all time. It allows you to choose between three different display modes: Fidelity mode, which prioritises achieving a 4K resolution while also employing ray tracing; Performance mode, which prioritises achieving 60 frames per second at the cost of resolution; and Performance RT mode, which boosts the frame rate but also employs ray tracing (albeit to a lower resolution than the Fidelity mode). Of course, your choice here will depend on your own preferences and setup, but I would strongly recommend using the Performance RT mode to get the best of both worlds. Regardless of your choice, though, you’ll still almost be able to count the individual hairs on Ratchet’s coat of fur.
Simply put, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is one of the best games on the PlayStation 5, and arguably the best entry in the long-running series. Whether it’s through its drop-dead gorgeous visuals, downright addictive and nuanced combat, or its surprisingly emotional story, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart pulls you in from multiple angles and holds on tight. If you’re a fan of the series as a whole, you absolutely must give this game a go as soon as you’re able to, but if you’re new, there’s never been a better time to give Ratchet & Clank a try.
Boasting stunning graphics, addictive combat and gunplay, and a surprisingly emotional story, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is not only the best PlayStation 5 exclusive released so far but it’s one of the best games available on the console right now.
Matt reviewed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart using a PlayStation 5 copy purchased at retail.