With the introduction of the PlayStation 5, there’s one thing you could count on: all the franchises that made the previous consoles such a success were bound to return. Yes, our favorite big-eared alien and his unflappable robot companion are also making a return! Another adventure in space with a wacky arsenal of weapons? Sign me up! Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is out on June 11 and apart from being a technical showcase for the new console, is it worth playing?
Compared to its competitor, the PlayStation 5 has a head start with its strong line-up of games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon Souls, and Returnal, just to name a few, have all seen stellar review scores. The global pandemic has slowed down game production. Various games have seen their release date pushed back to next year, resulting in a large gap that made room for a much-needed summer holiday blockbuster. In comes Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. A new entry in a franchise that has been successfully running ever since the release of the first game on PlayStation 2. As a result, the titular heroes have become true PlayStation mascots. In the new game by Insomniac Games, the proven formula of the series remains largely intact, but that doesn’t mean the studio isn’t trying to take the franchise to a higher standard with innovations.
The animated gamemovie.
Many of those innovations are enables by the new and powerful hardware of the PlayStation 5. The game looks utterly stunning for starters from start to finish, utilizing the PS5’s power to enable native 4k, ray-tracing, and smooth frame rates. The franchise is known for wreaking havoc and having a large number of enemies and effects on screen. But even in the heat of the action, the framerate remains steady. While capped at 30FPS in fidelity mode, the game’s day-one patch will also enable a performance mode. Upping the framerate to 60 at the cost of various visual effects. I haven’t been keeping up with the technical advancements of the Pixar films, but this game comes damn near close to an animated film.
The increased visual fidelity is not limited to the game’s characters but its large worlds are also excessively detailed. One neat trick I liked, in particular, was how the game’s cities felt so expansive, even though the explorable area is limited. By making sure there’s a ton of stuff happening around the player, it helps sell the illusion you’re in a sprawling alien metropolis.
Another neat trick you’re probably aware of if you’ve seen one of the game’s many trailers is its planet-to-planet teleporting gameplay. Made possible by the PS5’s extremely fast SSD, the game features interdimensional travel without ever showing the player a loading screen. This means the game can surround the player with graphically rich environments in just a fraction of a second. This technology can also provide the player with an edge in combat encounters, as it allows for faster movement across the battlefield. However, while many believed this to be the sole new gimmick of the game, you can rest assured it’s not the only gameplay-enhancing element the game relies on.
A recipe perfected.
If you’ve played any of the Ratchet & Clank games in the past, you have a broad understanding of what to expect from Rift Apart’s gameplay. Snappy shooting, an arsenal of wacky weapons and gadgets, exploration and platforming, blockbuster action-movie moments, and silly jokes. Many of the series ‘established staples remain intact.
Shooting is one of the mechanics that benefits the most from the incorporation of the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback found in the PS5’s DualSense controller. Like in Housemarque’s Returnal, weapons in Rift Apart have alternate firing modes that can be enabled by pulling R2 halfway or all the way through. It’s one of those things that underlines this game wouldn’t be possible on any other platform other than the PS5. In addition, it felt like the already stellar recipe of the game was perfected by adding a pinch of salt you didn’t even know was missing.
So that leaves us with the question of what this game is missing? If you think you know the answer I’m about to prove you wrong. The game has a lot of accessibility options included and a well-balanced difficulty modus making sure even the youngest members of the family can enjoy this spectacle.
If you think it has anything to do with the game’s narrative, let me prove you wrong again. It’s common for games less serious of nature and with a cartoonish caper to have less complex narratives. But the game’s story was one of the focus points during development for Insomniac Games. The game brings another main character to the mix; Rivet, a female Lombax who lives in an alternate dimension. As Ratchet’s and her dimensions collide, the two find themselves on a journey that brings them to new worlds. Their personalities and relationships are tested and while uplifting of spirit, the stark contrast between their worlds makes for an interesting layered narrative. Even the character performances in the cinematics are top-notch. It helps to bring the characters to life in a meaningful and endearing way. I had a hard time trying to find areas in which Insomniac had tried to cut corners.
Does this mean Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart does everything right? Of course not. While the weight of its story and overall atmosphere remains subjective, there was one aspect I regarded as missed potential. When you’re introduced to Rivet, you’ll quickly find out she shares the same weapons and skills as Ratchet does. Quite a bummer. A unique set of skills and arsenal would’ve done Rivet’s lovable character traits and personality even more justice. She plays and controls the same as her other-dimensional counterpart, which is not a bad thing per se, but such a thing could have made the experience more dynamic.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is worth playing. It’s one of those rare occasions in the first few months of a new console generation where it’s clear this couldn’t have been achieved on the previous console. Apart from the obvious graphical improvement, the PS5’s SSD eliminates loading screens and enables the game to generate new environments in the blink of an eye. More than an eye-catcher, the Rifts also provide a competitive edge on the battlefield. The game should feel like a warm blanket to fans of the series, while newcomers might step into the duo’s best adventure yet. Its quirky humor and snappy gameplay remain intact, but there’s some missed potential when the character of Rivet is introduced. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, out on June 11, further strengthens the incredible line-up of PlayStation exclusives and shows us why this franchise – after running for over 20 years – is here to stay.