Disclaimer: Rift Apart features three visual modes: Fidelity Mode (30 fps/4K Resolution/Ray Tracing), Performance Mode (60 fps/No ray tracing/Increased Resolution) and Performance RT Mode (60 fps/Ray Tracing/Lower Resolution). All three modes were tested during the review process and each screenshot below is labelled to indicate which mode was being used at the time.
Having been a fan of the Lombax and the robot since their PlayStation 2 debut, the 2016 remake of Ratchet & Clank ticked a whole lot of boxes, but for me, it accomplished two main things. First of all, it solidified that the original game was class, regardless of whether or not you had nostalgia-tinted glasses on. Secondly, and most importantly, the game acted as a promise, a promise that the beloved franchise was back on track in a big way. Well, not only does Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart manage to live up to that lofty promise, it might just be the series’ best entry to date.
Their names might be on the box, but this story doesn’t open with our titular heroes, but with another Lombax instead. Veiled in robot disguise, this mysterious new character makes her way through an almost unbelievably gorgeous metropolis in search of an infobot. After a tussle with some unfriendly, albeit cute, robo-baddies, we get a quick look at this new lady Lombax. More on her later though, as we quickly cut to a more familiar-looking duo. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a first-timer, Rift Apart does an excellent job of making you feel comfortable. The opening tutorial that steps you through the basics takes place in the middle of a Ratchet & Clank celebration that gently catches you up on the team’s exploits and introduces you to some of the series mainstays like Captain Qwark and Skidd.
A well-earned celebration for the duo I would say [Fidelity Mode]
If you are a tenured fan, prepare yourself, as this opening will give you some serious warm and fuzzies. What was meant to be a touching first step into Ratchet discovering his lost origins is turned into a launchpad for heroics, because we’ve all seen Spider-Man and know that where there are giant mascot balloons, villains are sure to follow. Dubious PhD-holder Doctor Nefarious shows up to ruin a lovely parade (put together by Qwark alone I’m sure) by snagging the Dimensionator to travel to a dimension where he always wins. With Nefarious on the scene, rifts opening up all around the city and citizens to save, the action gets underway.
Combat is the best kind of frenetic chaos you can imagine. Charmingly dorky enemies will light up the screen with laser blasts and explosions as you jump and dodge around while returning fire. Whether it be the Goon-4-Less dude-bro lizard men or faux-threatening bug-eyed robots, all of the enemies you encounter offer different challenges and will encourage you to do some out-of-the-box thinking when you fight them.
Starting off with the fairly run-of-the-mill Blast Pistol (which does what it says on the tin), you quickly find your weapon wheel filled with crazy weapons like the double-barrelled scattergun The Executor, the explosive-throwing gauntlet The Shatterblaster and the energy beam-spewing Negatron Collider. The sheer creative depth of Rift Apart’s weaponry is staggering, with upwards of a dozen guns, launchers, blasters and gauntlets on offer, all of which are accessible to you at any time. Every single one of these destruction dealers is fun to use and many can be chained together in clever ways, or in silly ways that’ll make you smile. My standout was the Topiary Sprinkler that would pacify enemies by turning them into living hedge art that you can blast away at. What’s not to love?
It’s devastating, the weapons are so fun but the critters you blast are so cute [Fidelity Mode]
Each weapon has its own quirk or feature that often utilises the DualSense’s adaptive triggers, such as pulling the trigger halfway to fire just one barrel from the Executor, or pulling it all the way to unleash both. On top of this, each weapon has a levelling system that allows you to spend Raritantium (a currency found in the environment) to upgrade and augment it even further. You know that ‘simple’ Blast Pistol I mentioned? Well by the time I hit the credits it had a three-blast, homing, horizontal spread. Each weapon is so much fun to use and experiment with, and the added layers of depth challenges you use them all. Having three weapon wheels to sift through might be a little daunting, but it’s a small price to pay for the amount of enjoyment you’ll be having.
With the fabric of reality breaking down around you, small rifts will appear in the world that you’ll be able to tether to, teleporting you across the map. In most instances, the rifts will appear during set pieces like grind rail sections or during a platform-heavy moment, but they’ll also show up in combat arenas. Flinging yourself around the place with the rift tether is great fun, but I can’t help but feel like it didn’t have a big enough impact. I would have liked a little bit more rifting overall, but only because I want more of a good thing.
Thanks to some Dimensionator shenanigans and a half-foiled Nefarious plot, our leading lads are thrown into a rift and separated. Here, in this new dimension, we get a proper introduction to our second playable protagonist, Rivet. Sporting blue fur, a mighty mallet and a sweet robotic arm, Rivet is far more than a gender-swapped Ratchet. Voiced by the immensely talented Jennifer Hale, I found myself immediately loving Rivet. Every ounce as adventurous as her male counterpart, she’s a badass that quips like the best of them and is overflowing with charisma. SPOILER ALERT Joining the roster of new characters is Kit, this dimension’s Clank equivalent. Similar to Rivet, Kit is far from a simple palette swap and is actually at the centre of a touching story thread that unfolds over the course of the game. Both new additions to the series are more than welcome and even give the game’s namesake heroes a run for their money.
Nefarious might need some decorating tips, but the city is gorgeous despite him [Fidelity Mode]
Over the course of the game, you’ll switch between Ratchet and Rivet as they travel from planet to planet in an effort to stop Nefarious and restore the multiverse. Fundamentally, both characters have the same abilities and each has access to the same weapons and ammo, so don’t expect there to be any abilities that’re tied to a specific Lombax. This avoids any confusion and allows you to keep on adventuring instead of readjusting every time you change between the two.
Every planet you visit acts as a level, each with its own objectives, enemies and aesthetic. The same level of variation seen in the weapons can also be seen in the worlds. Interplanetary fighting arenas, backwater swamps, pirate coves and scientific facilities make up but a few of the locations that you’ll visit during your play time. The action never slows down for long, with your objectives always pushing you from one excellent set-piece to the next, with weird and wonderful characters scattered throughout. I was already in love with this game’s humourous and endlessly endearing ways, but when I was introduced to a race of knee-high aliens with thick Canadian accents that love lemonade I knew that Rift Apart had me hook, line and sinker.
The exceptionally entertaining 12-hour story will take you to a laundry list of gorgeous locations that’re all memorable for their own distinct reasons, while numerous side objectives and a heap of collectibles like Infobots and Golden Bolts will tempt you back to explore further. Each level presents a new experience, with some even teetering on the edge of being genre-bending (there couldn’t be any light horror themes, could there?).
Each world’s design, both visually and in a gameplay sense are phenomenal and it results in the game’s pacing being near-perfect. The only blemish I found was the odd large, open section that felt just a little bit disjointed from the rest of the experience, but that’s a very minor gripe.
Rifting about has an excellent feel to it and the effect itself looks brilliant [Fidelity Mode]
At certain points in the game, you’ll take control of Clank or Kit as they try and fix rift anomalies. These puzzle sections are set in a dream-like plane that has you using coloured balls to manipulate the environment and lead a never-ending line of Clanks to the end goal. I found these sections to be a nice change of pace and found that they cropped up whenever my trigger finger was getting a bit sore. They won’t be for everyone, but luckily for those folks there’s an option to skip them entirely. You’ll also encounter a number of corrupted terminals in your travels that can be cleansed by your new digital friend Glitch. These sections, which can also be skipped, are shooting-based puzzles that’re novel, if not a bit forgettable.
Rift Apart might just be the most impressive and best-looking game that I’ve ever played. Every character, weapon, location and object is visually stunningly and so meticulously detailed that I almost felt bad dispatching Nefarious’ shiny robot goons. With ray tracing enabled, Rift Apart has the most impressive lighting effects in the medium today. Laser blasts reflecting off Clank and Kit’s metallic bodies as they fly past our heroes is a level of detail that I never knew that I wanted but now don’t want to live without. Equally as impressive are the animations and sound design. Every character, whether they be friend or foe, is given an added layer of personality through their amazing movements and interactions with the world. I found myself taking an alarming number of screenshots while playing Rift Apart, which was made easier with a very extensive photo mode.
Not content with being drop-dead gorgeous, Rift Apart is also a technical masterpiece when it comes to performance. Despite the huge amount of carnage on-screen, I never encountered a single frame-rate drop or stutter. Undeniably standing above all of its other achievements is the game’s utilisation of the PS5’s SSD. There’s only two-a-half seconds of loading between hitting resume game in the main menu to actually playing the game from where you left off, and despite personally timing this I still don’t quite believe it. The blisteringly-fast load times in Rift Apart mean that I wasn’t even able to check my phone before I was back in the action. This kind of technological advancement isn’t just impressive, it’s an absolute game-changer.
From magnificent vistas to textured hair, Rift Apart is stunning on every visual level [Fidelity Mode]
Rift Apart will, rightfully so, be enjoyed by a large demographic and Insomniac have clearly made it their mission to ensure as many people are able to play as possible. There are a huge number of accessibility options available that allow you to customise your experience to suit your desires and needs. Reducing the number of buttons required, slowing down game speed and simplifying combat are just a few options that’re available to tailor your gameplay. It’s truly amazing to see such care being put into accessibility, especially in a game that has such a wide appeal.
The 2016 reboot acted as a sign of amazing things to come, but it was never going to be able to prepare us for just how incredible Rift Apart has turned out to be. The fast and fun gameplay that the series is known for has been lifted to dizzying new heights with an arsenal of ballistically-creative and ever-evolving weaponry. With the introduction of two instantly iconic new characters in Rivet and Kit alongside the huge graphical and technical leaps forward, the future for the series is incredibly bright. Outstanding in every sense of the word, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a true system seller.
Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher
- Insomnaic Games
- Sony Interactive Entertainment
- June 11, 2021