Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart – Game Review


Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

(Available for PlayStation 5 only)

Sony now has released not only what looks to be the final PlayStation 5 exclusive for the year given that if Sony will be bringing out any more first party games for the rest of the year they’ll be on PlayStation 4 as well including what could be their big holiday title this year Horizon Forbidden West (no release date at this time) will also be on PlayStation 4. This is also due to continue into next year with the announcement the upcoming PlayStation 5 titles  for 2022 Gran Turismo 7 and God of War Ragnarok will also be going to the PlayStation 4 as well bring up concerns of how these games will run and if the previous generation of consoles had to be considered in development as well as the rather in my opinion (please don’t sue me Sony) deceptive marketing around the PlayStation 5 launch. If there was one game though that PlayStation 5 owners were looking forward to playing it was the latest entry in the Ratchet and Clank franchise. Ever since it’s reveal developer Insomniac has been highlighting the fact that the game would use the hardware to its fullest using the SSD Drive in the PlayStation 5 to kill load times and load entire worlds seamlessly to create a multiple universe story that’ll be unlike anything we’ve experienced and the gameplay demonstrations which have been a big part of the marketing have incredibly impressed a lot of people.

Pros

  • Stand out use of PS5 technology: if the goal was to show off the effects of PlayStation 5 technology the Insomniac Studios succeeded better than any development companies to date. The game takes full advantage of the SSD Drive so there are no load times and as a result has seamless transition between worlds loading large sprawling levels instantly  including in many sequences and boss fights where you are transported between worlds instantly, and these are not set pieces you can actually explore these locations outside of the fight. What’s more there are warp points to transport you over the map instantaneously with no loading time for instantaneous action. The team has clearly looked at the features of the ps5 and asked what can we do to really show off this console’s power and have brought it to us
  • Aesthetics: all the cutscenes are made with the in game engine and look amazing. Ratchet and Clank games have always been visual marvels for each PlayStation generation they’ve taken part in and this is no exception. The game looks stunning and is easily the best looking game in the series to date and quite possibly the best on PS5 to date and works very well considering all the cutscenes run on the game engine for seamless transition for gameplay. The game offers 3 options at release provided you install the day 1 patch. To get the full graphical fidelity there is a fidelity option which renders the game at full 4K but cuts the frame rate to 30 frames a second but you can also get a performance mode which cuts some of the resolution but has the game run at 60 frames per second. However people with the day one patch have access to Performance RT as an option which gives you 60 fps with ray tracing effects which really does wonders for the graphics and is how I played throughout most of the game. unless you’re a graphics junkie that wants to show off a new 4K tv or monitor play the game with one of the 60 fps modes you’re doing yourself a disservice playing the game in 30 fps given the fast pace nature of the combat and platforming
  • Gameplay:  the gameplay is very much what you’d expect from Ratchet and Clank mixing platforming with third person shooter combat on a variety of planets to explore. The game adds the multi dimension elements which I mentioned when talking about technology and is incredibly satisfying to use and can instantly transport you to parts of the map instantly which comes in handy in combat and makes it feel even more fast paced and strategic. There’s also now a faze out dodge which also come in handy for making tough jumps and is very welcome to such an extent I was using almost as much if not more than the traditional jump dodge for fire. You can’t fire whilst fazing but it has the trade off of not being able to be hit and functions similarly to that of the faze out dodge in Returnal. As well as levelling up Ratchet and new character Rivet to provide them with more health you also will be levelling up a variety of wacky weapons and I think Rift apart might have the best selection of weapons in the series to date. There’s a ricochet gun, a sprinkler bomb that turns enemies in plants which made mincemeat of bosses,  the war monger is a favourite for blasting away enemies in the late game  and the pixelzier was hilarious again and a great pre order bonus. The gameplay is so fun and addictive it made grinding for level ups so much fun and I’m even planning to go for 100 % playthrough following this review. Plus exploring so many diverse and amazing worlds feels better than ever with more secrets and side content to explore with stuff like the pocket dimensions and extra missions and it’s also a lot quicker with features like the new rocket boots for a massive speed upgrade.
  • Story: the story is a significant upgrade from the 2016 reboot which this game thankfully ignores almost entirely. It takes place years after the previous game prior to the reboot “Ratchet and Clank Into the Nexus” and sees the pair having to stop recurring villain Dr Nefarious after he steals the recently repaired dimensionator from Ratchet and Clank and causes a massive tear in dimensions leading them all to a dimension where Nefarious already won and became Emperor with only a small resistance to oppose him fronted by another Lombax named Rivet. The game also introduces another robot named Kit who teams up with Ratchet after Clank gets separated from him and joins Rivet. The game splits between both pairs with each planet being exclusive for each pair. It’s nothing amazing in the writing department but the series humour is back and as a simple but well done faily film turned into a video game it works out well and I enjoyed the arc Ratchet and Rivet’s fear of disappointing the other with the first contact they’ve had with a member of their own species after a lifetime of being the last in their respective universes. New character Kit also gets a good character arc and the new pair work well, to such an extent I would really like them to show up again in future games or even get their own spin off. What’s more the series character and humour also feels much more organic than 2016 and the game made me laugh on quite a few occasions. Plus I really found myself caring about the story more than I expected because it felt like it had a lot of personality and proves sometime simple is best.

Mixed

  • Game length: ok the length of the game is fine with doing the main quest being short and sweet and a 100% run time coming in around 16 hours. That being said it was such good fun playing this that by the time I got to the end game I kind of wish there was more. Granted I could’ve gone longer with side missions and 100% though I think it wouldn’t have added too much time since I was doing a lot of side content. Plus this review was going to take way longer if I didn’t and I wasn’t going to let Reece’s review being tied to mine be held back because I was taking longer to finish it. I kind of wish there was a few more side missions and collectables so the game would be 20 hours long but what we got is fine and at least the game doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

Cons

  • Did crash for me a couple times: now my co reviewer Reece did say he hadn’t really experienced this however a couple of transitions and loads did cause software crashes, some that required a reset of my PlayStation 5.  Now this only happened 3 times in a very long space of time and like I said it could just be an issue on my end but Insomniac have begun to send out patches to fix some minor bugs that have been spotted and stuff like this can happen on game releases around launch.

Overall thoughts

Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart is an outstanding game and one of the first things PlayStation 5 owners should get upon purchasing the console. The game is both a technological marvel as well as really fun time playing with just nice and simple yet slightly addictive gameplay that rewards you for going out of your way to explore all the environments. new character Rivet and Kit are also excellent additions to the cast and I would really welcome a spin off with them in the future. insomniac games should be proud of themselves this one is excellent and is my new favourite Ratchet and Clank game.

Score: 9.6/10

This game will be £70 for a long time but is an absolute must own for PlayStation owners and should be top priority for saving up for a luxury.

Calvin
Nerd Consultant


And now for Reece’s way more extensive review

My experience with Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart is that I have beaten the game 100% and received the Platinum Trophy for completing all the achievements to do in game before writing this review, but I won’t be saying spoilers beyond the second planet where you get to play as Rivet.

Ratchet & Clank is a 3D platform video game series developed by Insomniac Games and first published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2 on November 4th 2002.

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart is the latest game in the series and current only available for the PlayStation 5 released on June 11th 2021.

Rift Apart is a direct sequel to Ratchet & Clank Into the Nexus from November 6th 2013 and takes place in game many years after and begins with Ratchet recounting that it has been many years since he has done anything heroic (Due to the fact that the previous entry in the series was 8 years ago) and picks up with the plot point of Clank picking up the Dimensionator from the end of Into the Nexus. As the main plot point running through all 16 entries in the series is that the titular character Ratchet is the last of his species called Lombax in the universe, so Clank repairs the Dimensionator as a surprise gift to open up a portal for Ratchet to reunite with his people.

The main gameplay loop is either playing as Ratchet trying to meet up with Clank after they were separated being brought into Rivet’s dimension. Then playing as Rivet trying to reunite Clank with Ratchet after Rivet discovers Clank alone. Once all the party members are together they team up to defeat Dr Nefarious, rebuild the Dimensionator and get Ratchet & Clank home to their own dimension. 

To do this each character travels from planet to planet completing their own goals to progress the plot and along the way collecting “Bolts” which are the main currency of the games and used to purchase new weapons from in game vendors, then when using the weapons for a period of time the weapons will level up allowing the user to enhanced them with Raritanium that the player can find in the overworld of each planet.

The main villain of the game is Dr Nefarious who has been the main villain of the series since the 2nd game or has atleast been a background character. Now in Rift Apart Nefarious used it to find a reality where he always wins, Ratchet shot the core of the weapon, causing a malfunction and subsequent catastrophic dimensional collapse in which multiple realities began to mix. Ratchet and Clank attempted to chase Nefarious, who fled the scene. Eventually Dr. Nefarious found a dimension where he was known as Emperor Nefarious, and opposed by a resistance fighter named Rivet. During the whole crisis, Nefarious attempts to settle into the throne of his alternate self whilst Rivet attempts to reunite Clank and Ratchet.

The main new character Rivet is a female Lombax who is the alternate dimension counterpart to Ratchet, who like him is the last Lombax in her dimension. She is a fantastic addition to the lore as unlike Ratchet who has prevailed countless times in his dimensions Rivet has faced countless failures including the loss of her right arm, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying to persevere against her version of Dr Nefarious even with her history of PTSD. 

Rivet’s main theme is acceptance, that being acceptance of new friends and being a loner has left her socially awkward, skeptical, sour, jaded, and being unacquainted with teamwork. Rivet suffers from some degree of PTSD due to losing her arm on a mission and constantly fighting the robotic empire of Emperor Nefarious has left Rivet very distrustful towards robots, almost on principle, as she didn’t believe Clank’s story about being from a different dimension until seeing his memory bank.

Ratchet’s main theme is self confidence, this becomes apparent throughout the game with the prospect of finally finding his people (Which has been his goal since the first game 19 years ago) and leads to some interesting character introspective later on in the game as he begins to worry if his people will accept him after all the years that have passed in game. This theme speaks to me of the adoption process of when a person finds out that they were adopted and if they want to make contact with their birth family that is portrayed a lot in media. This theme is handled with great care and realistically as Ratchet gets support from his close friends to help him move forward instead of him being stuck thinking “What if?”, this then leads into the end credits which I won’t spoil but would recommend all players watch and sit through and I’m excited for future games to see where it leads.

Pro: 

Cast: One of the biggest highlight for me is the stellar voice cast with the new highlights for me being the VA for Rivet voiced by the very talented Jennifer Hale (Who previously voiced the female version of Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 3 and Ashe from Overwatch). She brings a great performance and her talent exemplifies Rivet and her journey especially with PTSD. 

Then the other standout is the VA for Emperor Nefarious who is voiced by Robin Atkin Downes (Who voices Travis Touchdown from the No More Heroes franchise and Kazuhira Miller from Metal Gear Solid 5). The biggest surprise about Robert Atkin Downes is his amazing singing voice which he shows off in his duet song during the final credits. 

In my opinion no one in this game turns in a bad or even subpar performance. 

Also I would be bereft to not mention Jim Ward the VA who has voiced Captain Qwark a main character from 2002 till 2016 and wasn’t able to reprise his role in Rift Apart due to developing Alzheimer’s and two weeks into his treatment it was revealed that it contracted a bad case of COVID-19 and this has lead the actor to take early retirement. Captain Qwark was instead voiced by Scott Whyte for a short segment at the start of the game.

Graphical Fidelity. Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart is the first game in the series to offer a 4K resolution mode (3840 × 2160 pixels). When this option is selected the game world looks incredible with Ray Tracing enabled that populates the world with particle effects (Rain in one world and confetti in another), then due to Ray Tracing it had accurate depictions of Ratchet & Rivet in reflections either in water or windows.

This feature is further exemplified with the new “Photo Mode” that allows players to stop and pause the game at almost any point and enter the mode, where they can take photos in game by editing the character models, lighting and applying filters. This mode is best used in the 4K mode so the pictures can be as highly detailed as they can, the player can also add stickers to each frame and put filters on that drastically change the look of the game (From a retro mode that makes the game look pixelated like a retro game or black & white to have photos look like they are from a Film Noir).

The PlayStation 5’s increased horsepower and SSD allowed more enemies, effects, and objects to be loaded per world in comparison to previous entries in the series as these planets feel more alive with more ambient creatures and weather effects.

Accessibility Options. Building upon their previous work on Spider-Man Miles Morales the accessibility options have been greatly expanded up. 

As now it has High Contrast Background desaturates the background and leaves key elements like enemies or traversal objects in full color to help them stand out in comparison to other elements that will be desaturated and appearing in more greyscale. 

The next option which really helps players with visual impairments is the Contrast Options used for Shaders for separate entities in game, these range from Hero (Player character), Allies (NPCs that can’t hurt you) and Enemies (NPCs that can hurt you) and this allows the player to choose from 10 colours. Then 3 new options for Shaders exclusive to this game are Interactable, Hazard, and Collectible. This allows key items like Gold Bolts and  wall running platforms to be highlighted and stand out from the rest of the world with its neon and fog effects.

Another option is the ability to turn Button Holds into Toggles so the player doesn’t need to keep their finger pressed on a button incase they struggle to do so e.g. allowing weapons to continuously keep firing until you run out of ammo by tapping the trigger once to turn the toggle on instead of holding the trigger down for an extended period of time to use all your ammo. This allows players to take focus away from holding the buttons to instead trying evading attacks while still shooting which could be something the player struggled to do with if they had to hold in the trigger.

Then the last accessibility option that really helps is the Shortcut feature. This allows the player to quickly perform a sequence of button press with just one press e.g. Going straight to the contrast options to change the colour of entities if the player is having trouble in a new area. A new option for the Shortcut menu is the ability to alter the Game Speed with a simple button press as Players can assign speeds of 70%, 50%, or 30% to Shortcut buttons. Pressing the assigned Shortcut button will slow the game down to the chosen speed and pressing it again will return speed to 100%. This is extremely useful if the player has trouble with slow reflexes in intense situations e.g. Boss fights or high speed grind sections.

Guns. Lots of Guns. Arguably the biggest selling point of Ratchet & Clank games are its vast arsenal of weapons for the player to buy, level up and upgrade until they become a walking army. Rift Apart allows the players to use 20 unique weapons (2 of which are locked behind Challenge Mode (Essentially New Game+ )) and the final 20th weapon is locked behind collecting all 10 Spybots scattered across all the different planets in the game. 

The weapons in Rift Apart have a great spread of variety and each weapon feels distinct either in its shooting style or special ability. One of the new weapons I was most surprised by was the Topiary Sprinkler which is a glove that can plant small gun turrets that target and fire blasts of water at enemies automatically, turning them into topiary that can be blown up. While it’s basic form doesn’t do any damage it does stun the enemy as topiary meaning that they can’t shoot you back, so you can get to cover or find more health/ammo. The biggest surprise to me was that it worked on bosses and that they wouldn’t be able to move allowing you to deal a lot of damage to them without fear of dying.

Multiple playstyles. Apart from the classic 3D platforming 3rd Person shooting game style of classic Ratchet & Clank, Rift Apart gives the player 2 new styles of play that appear during the main campaign.

The first is segment playing as Clank. During this parts the player is tasked with getting a series of Clank duplicates to the exit of a stage by altering their movement and changing obstacles in their path. This style is most similar to the classic puzzle video game Lemmings from 1991, these segments are short and not complex so the player will not get stuck on these and they are a nice bit of variety from the high intensity firefights of Ratchet and Rivet’s playstyle.

The other playstyle is controlling Ratchet’s new A.I partner Glitch, Glitch goes inside computer terminals and has to destroy literal computer viruses infected the computer to allow Ratchet to proceed. This playstyle is good fun as it features an entirely new world design as you are inside a computer and in control of a robotic spider (who is adorable) and has a fun personality with intense levels later in game as you try to free the computer from all traces of the virus making you use a new weapon set and mobility options (As you can cling to walls and ceilings bringing back feelings of Insomniac’s previous games that being Spider-Man PS4 and Spider-Man Miles Morales) and never wore out their welcome just like the Clank stages and I would recommend players to play all of her levels as you even get a trophy for your trouble.

Mobility and Controls. New to this game is the “Rift” mechanic which makes up part of the title that being Rift Apart. As due to the plot certain Dimensional “Rifts” are opened up across the planets that allow Ratchet or Rivet to use these Rifts to traverse across the battlefield or general environment to get to new area instantly. This ability allows the player to quickly escape high pressure firefights and to get to a more defensible position.

Another mechanic is the “Phantom Dash”, this ability is given to players early on in game and allows them to dash through obstacles or across gaps that they otherwise couldn’t cross.

Then later in the game the player gets another movement upgrade which makes traversing the wide open planets a lot easier, the only issue I have is that when you do a New Game Plus run then they are taken away from you and can’t be unlocked again until you reach the same point in the story as when you first unlocked them.

Overall this is still the best that any Ratchet & Clank game has played before with its tight controls and wide variety of mobility options.

Decent game length: In comparison to the recent Ratchet & Clank games like Into the Nexus which was 5 and 1/2 hours for the main campaign as that was short for a Ratchet & Clank game, now Rift Apart takes roughly double that for the main campaign for atleast 10 hours on the main campaign alone.

Replayability. With previous entries in the Ratchet & Clank series Rift Apart allows players who finish the main campaign to do subsequent playthroughs on a new save file using “Challenge Mode” which is basically Rift Apart’s version of New Game Plus. When you select this option then the player will be able to play through the entire story again (On a new difficulty if they choose) with all of their previous bought weapons, weapon levels, weapon skill tree upgrades and collectibles (Gold Bolts and Spybots. However, your Bolts will be multiplied with this multiplier increasing the more enemies you defeat without getting hit (As that will reset the multiples back down to down 1x the normal amount of bolts collected) and you’ll be able to purchase Omega versions of all weapons. You’ll be able to level the Omega versions of your weapons up to Level 10, making them stronger and more powerful than the previous weapons when they were capped at Level 5 in your first playthrough. This Challenge Mode is also how you buy the final 2 weapons needed to get the trophy of buying and maxing out all weapons (This being the Pixeliser and Bouncer weapons). Due to wanting to buy the Omega versions of all weapons then that will require multiple playthroughs unless the player wants to forcibly grind for more bolts to afford the weapons as the final Omega weapon costs 100,000 bolts, so that is going to take a while since I finished my first playthough with only 30,000 bolts and if you want all weapons then you have 20 Omega weapons to buy which is going to take a long time if you play without focusing on the bolts.

Music: The main composer for the soundtrack was Mark Mothersbaugh who Marvel film fans will recognise as the composer for the Thor Ragnarok soundtrack from 2017 and as such it has a synth based soundtrack which adds to the atmosphere of the more mechanical and neon levels. 

The main highlight soundtrack wise for me is the song that plays over the final credits called “Join me at the Top” and is sung as a duet between the characters of Dr Nefarious and Emperor Nefarious (that you should never skip in my opinion as I never skip it) as it is now my favourite song from any video game end credits and it even had a flare of Hamilton to it.

The rest of the soundtrack is great and is probably my favourite in the series now due to how atmospheric it is and the ability to fit the mood of the characters on screen.

The full soundtrack is also available to listen to on Spotify as that’s why I downloaded it and would highly recommend that people give it a listen.

Con

4K at a price. In order to play the game in 4K resolution then the game is limited to only running at 30fps, in comparison to the “Performance modes” which run at a lower resolution but keep a steady 60fps. While playing at 30fps is doable it certainly lessens the experience as you only get half the framerate, meaning that in a firefight in game where you have to shoot and dodge then you have half the time to respond in comparison if it was 60fps, so the action can look choppy if you play at 30fps compared to 60fps.

A.I issues. At multiple points in my play though I had issues with A.I either getting stuck on geometry or clipping. My first instance was in the first world where an A.I NPC got caught behind a pipe attached to the wall and was jittering uncontrollably back and forth and wasn’t able to free themselves. This was funny at the time but the problem persisted during a cutscene that took me out of the experience when an NPC was vibrating constantly against the wall next to Ratchet. 

Then the 2nd time which was play through stopping was during the arena challenges. During one of the Gold Cup missions I had to defeat a group of enemies and one enemy flew out of bounds and got stuck under the stage meaning I was then stuck as I couldn’t finish the challenge and had to restart my save file to before the challenge or I couldn’t progress.

Forced backtracking (For all collectibles). This was only a problem if you are aiming to collect all of the Gold Bolts in the game. Gold Bolts are a hidden collectible collected throughout the game with 25 to collect in total. Each Gold Bolt unlocks a way to change the game and mechanics. This can vary from more filters for Photo Mode to Invincibility, now Gold Bolts have always been apart of the series but the issue that I had in this game was that you couldn’t collect all of the Gold Bolts on your first visit to certain planets and since I always try to 100% each planet before moving on this was very frustrating as the game wouldn’t tell you that you were locked off from certain Gold Bolts until you come back later after the main story has progressed. This was frustrating after spending several hours trying to find certain Gold Bolts and the game not tell me that they were currently inaccessible. 

So a solution to this would be that if I have collected all the collectibles currently available on the planet then they game would say to come back later in a text box  or have an NPC send you a message later in the game saying they heard that a Gold Bolt can now be found on a previous planet.

Conclusion:

This game is a must buy for fans of the series or even if you are a new player to the series who was lucky enough to get a PlayStation 5 then this game does a good job of introducing you the universe and lore of the characters and encourages you to either play the previous games or just go on a big wiki dive.

Rift Apart delivers everything a great Ratchet & Clank game should, while expanding on the lore of the series left off from Into the Nexus, while still making full use of the power of the PlayStation 5.

Score: 9.7

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th July 2022
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Temporarily Suspended
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