The Ratchet and Clank series has been a staple on the PlayStation platform for generations now. Every new console cycle also gets a game fairly close to its hardware release and this year we are celebrating the PS5 and its fancy SSD and DualSense Controller through the best-looking entry in the series to date. For the most part, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart makes for an enjoyable return back to the series even if its cookie-cutter gameplay offers nothing majorly new to enjoy. While the game tries hard to introduce new characters including Rivet and other interdimensional versions of fan favourites, Rift Apart is a Ratchet and Clank game through and through. However, is the game’s biggest strength and could also be its biggest downfall.
In the age of God of War 2018 reboots, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart plays it very safe. So much so that if you have ever played any previous title, there’s nothing new here to learn at all. The overall progress is sadly the same, the weapons follow the same progression system, the story is short, the planets, while being gorgeous to look at, are empty and offer limited exploration. In addition, everything feels like it was given to me in tiny morsels before being taken away completely.
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Don’t get me wrong Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is extremely fun but it doesn’t break any barriers nor offer anything game-changing to talk about over a chat party with your friends. I obtained my platinum trophy in one and a tiny bit of a playthrough and had no reason to go back at all. It irked me. At least lock a trophy behind playing the challenge mode as it would have given the game that extra bit of replayability. Sadly, a Platinum Trophy for me marks the moment a game gets deleted off my console. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is no longer on my PS5. After one playthrough of just 10 hours, it made me feel a bit disappointed.
Where Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart does shine is as a technical showcase of the PS5. I was in awe throughout my time with the game. Often I would stand still looking into the distance trying to figure out how a video game can look so superb. Every moment and every cinematic looks like it has been plucked from a high-end animation studio’s showreel. I know we say this for every new Ratchet and Clank game but Rift Apart is truly magical on-screen. From Ratchet’s furry ears blowing in the wind to Rivet’s earings that include raytracing reflections. It is an absolute dream on screen.
Rift Apart follows Ratchet and Clank as they get torn apart by Dr Naferious after he causes chaos with the dimensions. The two get split up after being ripped into a dimension where Dr Naferious is the empire of the galaxy. He even has his own planet and city. Clank suffers some damage and Rivet finds him and whisks him away to another location. Ratchet needs to find him and stop Dr Naferious once again.
I am sure you can get the idea here that I am trying to stay away from spoiling the story for you. While it has some plot holes and some questionable pacing, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart makes for a fun time with the cast. The game also plays out a bit differently as various planets saw me control Ratchet and Rivet separately. I had to track down a rebel group member as Ratchet in Nefarious City while Rivet had to find some Phase Quartz in Blizar Prime.
The guns are the best in the series to date
There are a range of mini-games that pop up every now and then. One saw me control a little digital spider named Glitch that had to creep into terminals and kill viruses in order to unlock the data. Glitch can climb up walls and shoot missiles at the little buggers that took over the internals of the machine like some sort of alien infestation. There’s also a story behind this character and the viruses but it falls flat completely and sadly never gets the attention it needed.
Clank also has his own mini-game challenges. He enters a dimension rift in an attempt to fix it by controlling the flow of his possibilities. There are various orbs that are thrown at terminals and each orb affects the area in some way or another. One speeds these possibilities up while the other is a jump and another makes them super light. Using these orbs, I had to place them across grids to make sure these possibilities reach the end by overcoming the challenges in the way. It was fun and had my brain hurting near the end.
Outside of the mini-game, the general gameplay of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart remains true to the series. You run around and shoot things with all the cool guns available. The guns are the best in the series to date and while I was disappointed to see no whip, everything else felt amazing to shoot. They all make use of the DualSense adaptive triggers too. Many of them require holding the trigger down halfway to zoom in or shoot one part of a two-part shot. The bombs, for example, let me see the throwing arc by holding it down halfway and threw it by pushing it down. It felt super cool even at the end of the game after doing it for hours on end.
Weapons are also fantastic. There’s the Blackhole Vortex that let me spin the mini-gun with the trigger halfway and then fire a rapid shot by holding it down. The Doom Blades are fun to watch spin around the area, and there’s the Migraine for sniper lovers. Each weapon levels up to level five which sort of evolves it a bit. However, the game does not clearly tell you what the max level change does when you hit that level. You need to go and read about it in the menus.
All the weapons combine together to provide some fantastic combat encounters. Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart shines when there are dozens of enemies on the screen, thousands of bolts on the floor and weapon particles flying all over the place. I often took a second glance at some of these encounters due to the sheer beauty of how everything comes together in such incredible detail. Again, these moments made it hard to believe it was a video game.
The whole interdimensional aspect of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart also means the dimensional rifts play a big role in the game. However, saying “big” would be an overstatement here. In combat, I could tether myself to a rift in the distance and pull Ratchet or Rivet towards it. That is about it. I was hoping for more. I was hoping to pull things through these rifts to deal damage to my enemies. Or perhaps jump between dimensions from one combat encounter to the other. This never happened. It never expands past using it to grapple up to a ledge.
Outside of combat, the dimensions make for a fun way to explore some planets. Hitting a crystal would teleport me to a whole different version of that planet instantly. Then some story progression would be locked behind moving about in this other dimension before hitting another crystal to go back. These moments truly showcase how amazingly fast the SSD can load an entirely different world at the click of a button. In terms of gameplay, the dimensions felt shallow. A puzzle here, a moving platform there but nothing technologically advanced whatsoever.
Even the pocket dimensions that are cracks in the world. These open up and once entered offer a short platforming challenge. These were also just quick and simple jumping or wall-running sections. None of them were hard to beat or offered the slightest difficulty at all. I was hoping for a sort of Sackboy: Big Adventure knit challenge where I died and died but slowly mastered wall running. It was sadly not the case.
This is the biggest problem with Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. It plays it way too safe all the time, gave me a small taste of great mechanics and puzzles and then took it all away before I was able to enjoy any of it. Every trip to a new planet felt like an opportunity to explore new wonderful places but these planets were often empty and before I knew it I was flying to the next one. Even the arena mode is limited to fifteen breezy challenges that lacked excitement and unique mechanics.
Don’t get me wrong, the moment to moment gameplay in Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is extremely fun and the story and quick time events are hella explosive. The game just fails to flesh out any of its new features and mechanics enough to make them memorable. I experienced it, and it was over. The credits rolled, I launched challenge mode, bought two guns, got my platinum and that was it. Done and dusted.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart Verdict
Regardless of how short and uninspired Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart might feel, PS5 owners will have a great time here. The game is gorgeous and if you have a PS5 there’s no reason not to get this tech showcase. It is something you will love from the moment it starts right up until the end. I just wish that after five years there was a little bit more here.
This Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart review was based on a code sent to us by Sony Interactive Entertainment
Available On: PS5 | Release Date: 11 June 2021 | Price: R1,295
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