In the run up to the global launch of the PS5 console in November 2020, they held a special ‘State of Play’ to showcase all the titles that would launch with the console and those what release following the launch. One of the first games shown that featured actual PS5 gameplay was from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and it just looked incredible, blowing my mind of the potential of the next generation of console and made me want to get the PS5 that much more. Thankfully, despite the massive console shortages still happening with the PS5, I was able to secure one and then it was just the five months wait for Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart to release and my friends, the wait was worth it!
Throughout my time as a PlayStation gamer, the Ratchet and Clank series has always been a big part of it with the 2016 game truly being a celebration of the series tied into the animated film that was released. As an action platformer, few can really hold a candle to the story telling and gaming experience playing a Ratchet game and just the idea that so soon after the launch of a new PlayStation console there would also be a brand-new game to go with it that would use the full power of the console, well it was pretty much a no brainer really and a pre-order was placed!
Rift Apart is a direct continuation of the story from ‘Into the Nexus’ from 2013 and opens with the worlds rejoicing and celebrating our two heroes, thanking them for defeating Dr Nefarious once again. Reliving how they first met, this is an opening filled with fun nostalgia whilst also showcasing just how beautiful it looks on the PS5 but will come back to that a little further on. Now any celebration of Ratchet and Clank is not going to go without some interference of their arch nemesis and at the very moment Clank presents Ratchet with a fully working Dimensonator, capable of opening portals to other dimensions in order to help him track down and find the lost Lombax, Dr Nefarious pops up to steal it and whilst stropping him, the Dimensonator is damaged causing dimensional rifts to open up which pulls in Nefarious along with our two heroes into different dimensions. Now cut off and alone from Clank, Ratchet must discover where he is and how he can find Clank to put an end to Nefarious’s evil plan and save the Universes one more time!
Before I get into just how brilliant the story and the gameplay are, I do have to talk about just how fantastic this game looks and plays on the PlayStation 5. I am a firm believer in gameplay over visuals and 2021 has certainly spoiled me in consoles games now fully running at 60FPS across PS5 and Xbox Series X. Thankfully a launch day update added a Performance mode with full Ray tracing at 60fPS, and having a pretty good 4K TV, playing this on that Performance RT at 60FPS gave me a visual feast of vibrant colours, incredible detailed textures and a fluidity of animation that has just taken the series to an incredible new level. You combine that with the brilliant use of the Dualsense controllers Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers which allow you aim some throwable weapons by holding the right trigger halfway before a full trigger pull will fire the weapon.
Perhaps the other biggest use of the new power of the PS5, and the main reason why sadly this game could never come to PS4, is the new enhanced loading times which gives life to the “portal use” feature of the gameplay. Thanks to the power of the PS5 SSD, entire new worlds, levels and environments can now be instantly transported to, changing the traditional game up and offering even more new gameplay mechanics to enjoy. We as gamers are so used to be hurled through something that the animation of pulling a portal and the world behind it to you instead of being firing towards and through it for me has really helped being this new way of travelling to life and I never tired of it once in the 19 hours of my first run through the game, it just put a big grin on my face to instantly be transported to a new location just by pressing L1 whenever I saw a portal flash yellow meaning I could use it. Not only is this used to help move around the area you are in but clever positioning of them in some of the main boss fights of the story, gives the player an escape path out of danger to get your bearings before jumping into the fight once more.
With the ability to travel to other dimensions, one very cool addition Rift Apart brings to the series is a brand-new character, a Lombax very much the hero just like Ratchet but this time a hero who has lost her fight against her nemesis as we are introduced to Rivet for the first time. I really like Rivet as a character, to have someone who is as capable and as talented as Ratchet but from a dimension where her version of Nefarious, Emperor Nefarious if you please, has won and is now dominating her world and universe but is still trying to fight back. It is Rivet who finds a heavily damaged Clank and the two of them set of to stop Dr Nefarious, who is now loving the fact he is finally in a Universe where people worship him, from causing even more damage.
Whilst Rivet is a new character, her move-set and weapons are the same as Ratchet, so as switch between Rivet and Ratchet as you progress through the story, any weapons and upgrades purchased by one will be immediately available to the other. Their skills will be the same as well allowing the player to feel at home controlling either character at any time with the standard melee combat combining with the weapons you will purchase along the story. I really came to like Rivet as her own character though, learning about her own backstory throughout and finding a connection to her in the same way I have a connection to Ratchet and Clank though it only took one game for Rivet. There is also a very lovely surprise for Clank fans as well, but I will not spoil that in this review.
Gameplay has all the traditional elements you would expect from a Ratchet and Clank adventure mixed in with new puzzle levels featuring an interdimensional puzzle for Clank and a small Anti-Virus bot named Glitch as she is used to clear out a computer virus from systems allowing Ratchet to open doors in order to progress further. Each world you visit has its own environment, dangers and inhabitants to meet, often with Ratchet or Rivet needed to save them from the forces of Nefarious. The lack of any noticeable loading times as well mean the transition from cut scene to gameplay is immediate that it can honestly feel like you are participating in an animated movie rather than just a video game. The story is tremendous as well as explore this use universe impacted by the Dimensonator explosion such as the Pocket Dimensions that can be found and explored to find a piece of the armour sets hidden around the worlds. Alone with trying to find armour sets, the classic Golden Bolts return, finding one will give players access to anything ranging from Sticker packs to use in photo mode to new skins for the spaceship and melee weapons that Rivet and Ratchet use.
I think one of my favourite elements to a Ratchet and Clank game has to be the humour and Rift Apart has a joyful use of this humour throughout, not just from the rather awesome performance of the entire voice cast, but in the little details such as the preview feature at the weapons Vendor which explains what that weapon can do in a way that made me chuckle every time a new weapon was introduced right now to the 10 hidden Spy bots, one on each world who have gathered a report on that world in order to take back to brief Emperor Nefarious which you can listen to once you have found them. Rift Apart is just an absolute joy to play from start to finish because of how well the humour is blended into everything before the incredible gameplay mechanics also remind you why this is a series you have loved if you are series veteran or instantly becoming a fan should this be your first time with a Ratchet and Clank title.
Where the 2016 game felt like a celebration of the series, Rift Apart is very much about building the series for a new life in the PS5 generation. There is a definite focus on the Lombax now that Rivet has met another in Rivet and I can easily see this as being a focus for a future game, helped by the addition of Lombax Lore globes that you can find and learn about the Lombax before they disappeared themselves. For a series that first launched in 2002, to see how far it has come across the generations of PlayStation console right to 2021 and the PS5 is a testament to the incredible developers at Insomniac games over the years who just keep knocking it out of the park. For a truly PS5 exclusive game, Rift Apart showcases every element that Sony is claiming the PS5 does best, and it really does feel like a game that can only be played on a PlayStation 5 making it even more of a must have console if you are a PlayStation fan (apologies to all still trying hard to secure the console).
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a game you will fall in love with straight away and will make you glad you have a PS5 to play it on. From the insanely fun weapons ranging from the Apocalypse Glove that launches little DOOM bots to attack your enemies to the FunGuy/Gal mushrooms you can throw that will then shoot enemies whilst making terrible Dad jokes, to exploring the worlds all bathed in Ray Tracing beauty at a crisp and smooth 60FPS if played in Performance mode there really is very little to criticise if at all about the execution of perhaps this years biggest PS5 Sony Studio release, depending if Horizon into the West gets a 2021 release date.
I have already started my new game plus run with the difficulty cranked up to the hardest in order to earn the new Omega Level weapons that can only be unlocked in New Game + mode and plan to spend a lot more time playing around with the rather fun Photo Mode, but it really is going to difficult even though it is only midway through the gaming year, to find a more complete and excellent fun experience to have than with Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
If you own a PS5 then you owe it to yourself to buy and play Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, if you are still trying to get hold of a PS5, then make sure this is the first game you play when you do manage to pick one up.