Developer – Insomniac Games
Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s) – PlayStation 5
MSRP – $69.99
Release Date – June 11, 2021
Disclaimer: Review Copy was Provided for this Review
In my opinion, Insomniac Games has been the MVP for PlayStation over the past couple of years. In 2 and a half years, Insomniac has released Spider-Man PS4, Spider-Man Miles Morales, a full remaster of Spider-Man PS4, and now they’ve released Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. All this and I didn’t even mention the Ratchet & Clank game from 2016. Insomniac Games has not only managed to put out a multitude of games but they’ve all managed to be of good to great quality as well.
The acquisition of Insomniac Games to PlayStation Studios in 2019 has proven to be a worthwhile move in every sense. A lot of people look to developers such as Santa Monica Studio, Sucker Punch, and Naughty Dog as the top studios under PlayStation. If these past few years are any indication, Insomniac Games is right up there with all of them.
If this intro didn’t make it clear already, I absolutely adored Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. I’ll make it clear from the very start of this review, I’m not a longtime fan of the Ratchet & Clank series. My first Ratchet & Clank game was the title that was released in 2016 and in short, I didn’t care too much for the narrative and its flying sections, but I couldn’t get enough of its core gameplay. So while I haven’t delved into many Ratchet & Clank games, the 2016 release convinced me that Rift Apart was a must-play.
There’s been a lot of discussion of whether or not you need a PlayStation 5 right now. With titles like Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, and Gran Turismo 7 set to be cross-generation, the debate is ramping up. I think Demon’s Souls and Returnal are great games, but if you ask me, I think you need a PlayStation 5 to play Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for so many different reasons and I’ll tell you all of them in detail right now.
At the time of this review, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has yet to release, so I’m going to avoid going too in-depth with certain story spoilers. I’ll be going over the start of the game and how those events lead into the main plot with certain tidbits here and there.
Rift Apart kicks off with a celebration for Ratchet & Clank that gets abruptly cut short due to a surprise attack from Dr. Nefarious. Nefarious initiated his raid with the Dimensionator, a weapon that opens up rifts to other dimensions. The attack ends with the Dimensionator getting destroyed thus opening up rifts across the galaxy. Chaos has ensued across tons of different planets and the only way to undo all the rifts that have formed is to make another Dimensionator.
One of my biggest gripes with the release of Ratchet & Clank in 2016 was that its story never hooked or interested me. The overall flow and tone just weren’t for me and I’m happy to report that Rift Apart is the exact opposite in this regard. The narrative had me enthusiastic to find out what would happen next, and a big part of that is due to the addition of a new protagonist, Rivet.
Rivet is a female Lombax from another dimension who is directly involved with the events of this game. Rivet is by far the star of this game due to a multitude of reasons. Insomniac gave Rivet more background than I thought they would and I was interested in learning more about her character as time went on. The biggest reason that Rivet worked so well is because of the performance behind her. Jennifer Hale brings a certain vigor and passion to Rivet that is brought out in every cutscene she’s in.
The narrative of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart takes the approach of quality over quantity. This isn’t to say that long games can’t be quality (i.e. Red Dead Redemption 2), it’s just that certain games would benefit so much by not going longer than it needs to. Rift Apart is the perfect length, it left me wanting more instead of wishing it would end. I can’t say the narrative is the best element of Rift Apart but it’s still terrific in its own right.
Insomniac made it very clear from the start that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart wouldn’t be possible on the PlayStation 4. As I mentioned earlier and as the name of the game suggests, Rift Apart has rifts to different dimensions all across each planet. Besides the graphics (I’ll get to this later), the power of the PlayStation 5 is shown off in the games’ loading times.
In the months leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 5, we heard about the power of the consoles’ SSD. We saw it on display in games such as Spider-Man Miles Morales and Returnal, but Rift Apart is the most impressive showcase for this feature on the PS5 hardware.
As Ratchet and Rivet, you navigate through Rifts using your Rift Tether. Rifts can open up to certain areas and enemies, as well as pocket dimensions that hold armor pieces. These Rifts give the game some of its best moments, there’s a Grind Rail Sequence in the middle of the game that stands out as one of my favorites. Insomniac didn’t pull any punches, the loading times of rifts from dimension to dimension work exactly how they did in the original reveal of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in June of 2020.
There are certain planets in Rift Apart that have these crystals that when hit switch between dimensions almost instantly. You hit these crystals based on where you are in the level and which dimension will resume progression. If I had one complaint with the crystals, it’s that they feel underused. These crystals are only used on 2 planets and for how much I enjoyed using them, I would’ve liked if they were used more frequently.
We are going to be incredibly spoiled with loading times in the current generation of console hardware. The days of waiting 10-30 seconds for screens to load will be gone the more that developers build games from the ground up for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Visuals & Performance
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is gorgeous in every single visual aspect. I was able to play through a majority of the game in Performance RT, which locks the game at 60 FPS with ray-tracing and lower resolution. There are other options in Performance (60 FPS, no ray-tracing & increased resolution) and Fidelity (30 FPS, ray-tracing & 4K resolution). It honestly doesn’t matter which mode you use, this game looks beautiful either way but I would recommend Performance RT.
I give studios like Rockstar Games and Naughty Dog so much love for how beautiful their games look, and now Insomniac is right up there with them. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the Pixar Movie Comparisons and it keeps getting mentioned because it’s true. I can only say in so many words how delightful this game is to look at, I’ll leave it at this, what you’ve seen in the gameplay reveals are identical to the final product.
For how much is happening on your screen at certain times, It’s nice to say that I can’t say I experienced a single framerate drop throughout my entire playthrough. This game runs wonderfully, I had one minor problem towards the end of my run. There were instances where I would browse weapons in the shop and attempt to look at a video preview of how the weapon works. There was a bug where clicking on the preview would bring the game to a halt and I would be stuck on the preview screen had to restart the game to fix it. It’s not a big deal considering the game has autosave on by default but it’s still worth noting. Other than that little hiccup, you’ll get no criticisms from me on how this game runs.
Ratchet & Rivet share equipment such as armor, weapons, and collectibles. You’ll attain Weapons through the shop that can be purchased from bolts you obtain throughout your adventure and are leveled up the more you use them. You can upgrade your weapons by finding Raritanium across each planet. As I mentioned earlier, Armor is acquired by entering pocket dimensions but it can also be obtained by completing certain challenges and is also color customizable.
Ratchet & Clank (2016) left an impression on me for its gameplay and Rift Apart exceeds it substantially. That Insomniac gameplay charm is shown off in full display here. Gameplay in Rift Apart is so swift and flows in a way that feels incredibly satisfying.
Weapons are dynamic and feel different from one another and in turn, it keeps the gameplay fresh. My personal favorites are The Executor, a shotgun-type weapon, Ms. Fungal, a living fungus that attacks enemies, and lastly the Apocalypse Glove, a glove that sends out eggs that hold Agents of Doom that bites and self-destructs on enemies.
As with other PlayStation 5 games, Rift Apart makes use of the haptics and adaptive triggers on the DualSense. For example, weapons such as the machine gun require you to pull the trigger halfway until the resistance kicks in to start up the gun, and then you can pull the trigger fully fire the gun. Haptics shine when rail grinding and especially when firing weapons. As the DualSense continues to prove, its features are substantial and aren’t just smoke and mirrors.
Clank has his gameplay sections where I could see some not enjoying although I loved all of them. There are Dimension Anomalies that can only be fixed by Clank and another character which I won’t name. You have to complete puzzles by leading a bunch of Clanks into a door. You do this by moving around platforms and manipulating movements with spheres. It may sound confusing but it’s easy to get the hang of when you’re playing. As I said, I know for a fact some are going to despise these puzzle sections. The good news is that there’s an option to skip them if you please, which I appreciate that Insomniac put in.
Along with the main story of Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, there are also tons of side missions. I will admit while I did enjoy a good bit of what those missions had to offer, the side missions while good didn’t stand out to me. None of the side missions feel drawn out or monotonous, my small gripe is that those missions don’t have the same masterful execution that the main plot does.
The various miscellaneous things you can do in Rift Apart are so much fun for players like me. The Bolts you pick up are customizable to Orbs, Rubies, Coins, and Overcharge Energy Drinks. You can customize the head size, your hammer, and a screen filter can be turned on if you’d like. Another staple in Ratchet & Clank is the Golden Bolts and they’re still so much fun to find, along with so many other collectibles. The concerns that Insomniac may have skipped out on side content in favor of the main plot are completely erroneous.
From the main plot, loading times, visuals, gameplay, and the addition of Rivet, Rift Apart isn’t only my favorite Ratchet & Clank game, it’s now my favorite game that Insomniac has ever put out. I didn’t even mention its wonderful soundtrack composed by Mark Mothersbaugh. I think the soundtrack masterfully integrates components from other pieces of entertainment into the music of Rift Apart.
If you beeline the main story ( I don’t recommend this) and completely ignore the side content, this game could probably be completed in 13-15 hours. If you fully explore what Rift Apart has to offer, it’s going to be more of a 20+ hour experience.
I don’t want to get into the debate on whether or not games’ are worth $70 or not. The only person that decides what you should spend your money on is you. The only thing I can give you is my recommendation, and I wholeheartedly recommend you check out Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
This game is as close to a masterpiece as I’ve played in 2021 so far. Insomniac Games have set a standard for this current generation and the years that proceeds it. I think it’s a given that their next title will be the next installment in the Spider-Man series. If Insomniac’s current game output is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that game released in 2022.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the reason to own a PlayStation 5. It’s a tremendously crafted experience that everyone should play. Rift Apart showcases the power of the SSD, provides better than stellar graphics, and gives us wonderful brand-new characters such as Rivet that left a lasting impression that I truly didn’t expect. As soon as you’re able to, pick up Rift Apart, you won’t regret it.
Rating - 9.5/10