Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart Review: A must-play next-gen adventure
Played On: PS5 (Original)
Difficulty: Rebel Agent (Normal)
Outside of maybe Naughty Dog, Insomniac has been PlayStation’s old reliable with them absolutely killing it lately in delivering fresh takes on Spider-Man and a beloved reboot to the Ratchet and Clank series back in 2016. This trend continues with their latest Ratchet and Clank game, Rift Apart, as it’s truly a next-gen experience.
Oddly enough, Rift Apart isn’t a direct sequel to the 2016 reboot and rather a sequel to Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus – the last mainline game from the PS3 era. It’s a bit of an odd choice since that reboot was what brought a lot of new faces to the franchise and there’s a lot that’s happened to the very seasoned Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) and Clank (voiced by David Kaye) we see in Rift Apart. However, it makes sense given that the game offers long-time fans a lot of nostalgic returns through its dimension hopping adventure.
The story centers on the titular duo being celebrated in an extravagant parade before their nemesis Dr. Nefarious (voiced by Armin Shimerman) crashes the party to once again take over everything. This time though, he slightly succeeds by stealing the Dimensionator Clank was giving to Ratchet to finally see other Lombaxes to create tons of dimensional rifts that suck them into a dimension where Dr. Nefarious is known as Emperor Nefarious. Here, Nefarious is successful in his intergalactic domination and even has his empire centered in the middle of a bustling city aptly named Nefarious City. As they crash into Nefarious City, Ratchet and Clank become separated and must now work with a small rebellion led by a female Lombax named Rivet (voiced by Jennifer Hale) to retrieve the Dimensionator and stop not one, but two Nefariouses.
For the most part, Rift Apart features the usual space adventure antics that Ratchet and Clank games are known for. There are plenty of great comedic moments of Nefarious cutting in with some animated segments to be an insane treat and some great banter between characters that’s always fun. Although they aren’t together much, Ratchet and Clank have some great chemistry with Rivet and Clank’s dimension doppelganger Kit (Debra Wilson) and these new interactions come with some great character arcs and growth.
Ratchet’s vulnerability and fears about being able to see other Lombaxes is very endearing and watching Rivet and Kit come together to form a bond of there is rewarding because of the growth they go through and what they overcome. With PlayStation creating spin-offs and expansion games for their biggest franchises, this game definitely sets up their origins and shows the potential for them to get an expansion story of their own in the near future – ala Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It’s also nice how Emperor Nefarious is a much more daunting and legitimately villainous version of the franchise’s most notable baddie as his actions in the game’s final stretch are more impactful and threatening. Again, the story hits a lot of the same story beats that this franchise usually does but weaves some meaningful character moments throughout its dimension-jumping space adventure that has players trek all across the galaxy to visit planets both old and new.
Longtime fans will be thrilled to return to planets like the swashbuckling pirate base Ardolis from Tools of Destruction filled with some pirate themed trials and enemies and an alternate version of Sargasso, also from Tools of Destruction, where Rivet’s base is located. Each planet sort of comes with its own unique elements that offer a fresh experience. It’s absolutely amazing to glide across the flat plains of Savali with the rocket boots and have a genuine open world experience in a Ratchet and Clank game. The Scarstu Debris Field ends up being a great place for some bumping music and some fun challenges through the arena. Players will even get to ride a delightful dragon monster on Sargasso. Most notable though are a few planets that contain Blizon crystals, which allow for players to switch between parallel versions of the planet. It’s a great new aspect that adds to the exploration elements of these planets – which is great because there are a lot of great collectibles to find.
Gold bolts, of course, make a return and are much better utilized here. Rather than having to spend a portion of them on different cheats and changes, each Gold Bolt unlocks something new. Things like being invulnerable and unlimited ammo are cool, but don’t even compare to some of the wild things that Insomniac has stuck into the Gold Bolts. Players can unlock new filters, frames and stickers for the still amazing Photo Mode. The game’s main currency of bolts and metal scraps can be changed to cans of Overcharge, one of the many references to Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive, and other iconic currency types – which ended up being very useful since it made them easier to see. I even got to live out a Kingdom Hearts fantasy with ability to change Ratchet’s wrench and Rivet’s hammer into a key, among other things, to make them keyblade wielders.
Honestly, Insomniac puts so many references to other games in Rift Apart that they’ve raised the bar to unbelievable heights. Outside of the Gold Bolts, players will be able to find the logs of a Lombax dimension-explorer on Sivali who talks about visiting dimensions that sound vaguely familiar to PlayStation properties like Sly Cooper and LittleBigPlanet. Speaking of Sly Cooper, Insomniac brings not just him, but many other PlayStation characters and properties into Rift Apart through the latest iteration of the RYNO.
The RYNO, generally the most powerful weapon in each game, now opens a rift in the sky that drops down big, powerful things from other dimensions. Sometimes familiar looking spacecrafts or a sheep will drop down, but after upgrading it, players will begin to notice other familiar entities fall out of the rifts. Not only does Sly Cooper himself fall into the game, but Jak and Daxter, some of the machines from Horizon: Zero Dawn, and even some vehicles from Uncharted will make an appearance. It’s a Photo Mode opportunity that cannot be missed and is such a perfect nod to many of PlayStation’s other iconic heroes.
The new RYNO is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the weapon arsenal that Rift Apart offers. Just like the planets seen in Rift Apart, the weapons are a mix of new and old and every option offers its own sense of satisfaction. There are so many weapons in Rift Apart, two weapon wheels can’t even contain them all and there’s a strong variety that fits to different playstyles. The Enforcer, a double-barrel shotgun equivalent, can be used for up-close combat while the Headhunter allows players to snipe their enemies from afar. Other classic weapons like the rocket propelling Warmonger, the Pixelizer, and Buzz Blades also make a return alongside interesting new guns. While it might not have been my favorite to use, the Ricochet gun is really great ammo conservation concept that allows players to fire off one round and then repeatedly hit with the same bullet. Each hit even comes with some fun pinball sound effects.
If I have to be real though, the real MVPs of this weapon selection aren’t even the guns you fire, but rather the ones where you summon some help. The Topiary Sprinkler is a worthy successor to the Groovitron as it turns any enemy that gets in its sprinkler’s path into a garden sculpture. No matter if it’s just a small Sand Shark or a giant spaceship, the Topiary Sprinkler will turn anything in its path into a visually pleasing sculpture fitting for a big botanical garden. The Glove of Doom makes a grand return and is heavily improved from its appearance in the 2016 reboot. Rather than have the small bots it spawns explode on contact, they actually stick around and do DOT damage to enemies making them much more useful. My real favorite though is definitely Mr. Fungi as he’s a real bro and a total party hound. Best of all, upgrading Mr. Fungi allows him to have a lady-friend at his side and do double the damage.
Certain guns also utilize haptic feedback functionality in a way that heavily enhances the gameplay. In a similar vein to Returnal, pressing down on the right trigger more allows for different actions to happen with the guns. For instance, the fire-rate on the Burst Pistol speeds up as you press down the trigger more. Players can fire off both Enforcer shots upon fully pressing down the trigger like a real double barrel shotgun. While pressing down the trigger until a stopping point while wielding the Void Repulser, players can pull up a shield that blocks attacks and even catches bullets when upgraded. Then, when pushing past the stopping point, players can fire a big attack back at enemies.
As a whole, it is a bit of a shame that the weapon leveling is limited to five instead of ten in the main game and that leveling things up is pretty easy because raritanium isn’t all that rare of a find here. However, that doesn’t take away from the impact that upgrading has on the gameplay and it constantly keeps things fresh and gives you reasons to try every new weapon you can get your hands on. Also, if you want more upgrades and weapon levels, Challenge Mode makes a return to up the difficulty and add more replayability to the weapons.
When you’re not running and gunning, there are also some great puzzle sections with Clank and Kit as well as Ratchet’s little hack robot called Glitch. Clank and Kit’s puzzles visually looking stunning as they’re essentially pipe puzzle where you try to direct a bunch of running versions of themselves to the finish line. These puzzles are a nice break between the standard gun gameplay and test your brain skills without it ever being too much of a strain. The same can be said about Glitch’s sections as you blast your way through virus filled programs. These sections are always fun to play and it’s nice that there’s sort of a little story arc that comes with it. It’s great that Rift Apart offers some great moments for its smaller, but equally important characters.
The gameplay enhancements don’t even stop with just the guns though. Outside of some of the traversal upgrades you get along the way; players can also use rifts to get from place to place while also opening up hidden challenge rooms to get armor parts. It’s a seamless transition that shows the power of the PS5 perfectly and is really something new. The first time you pull yourself through the rift, it’s legitimately breathtaking with how instant it is and is a pure showing of next-gen capabilities. Load times are officially a thing of the past and Rift Apart benefits greatly from the PS5’s enhancements – especially graphically. No Ratchet and Clank game has ever look as visually stunning as Rift Apart and the graphical enhancements are a pivotal force in giving each planet its own atmosphere and visual identity.
Rift Apart is the first true next-gen first party title for the PS5 that not only breathes new life into the iconic Ratchet and Clank franchise but is just an absolute blast to play that continually exceeds expectations with the amazing gameplay and visuals it offers and further proves Insomniac’s innovative and ambitious talents.