Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart continues on from the story introduced in 2013’s Into The Nexus for the PlayStation 3. With the idea of new worlds and characters to explore from the multiverse, as well as the prospect of a game developed specifically for the latest console, there’s certainly a lot of potential here for something to go either way. Let’s take a look and see if all that dimension hopping is worth the price of entry…
Following on from Into the Nexus, Rift Apart finds our heroic duo in the midst of a celebration of their exploits, which is quickly gatecrashed by the always amusing Dr Nefarious. A dimension hopping device created by Clank for ratchet ends up in the wrong hands and reality begins to fragment as portals open everywhere to different dimensions. Our duo end up separated in a dimension of victory for Nefarious, before joining forces with Ratchets counterpart here in Rivet to restore the fragmented universe. As always the story is just a bit of goofy fun, but Insomniac clearly have a handle on these characters which usually comes through with their chemistry. Even new additions like Rivet fit in seamlessly, and the games presentation this time really sells that with fantastic graphics, audio and animation during cutscenes.
If you just plough through the game then it could be over in around 8-10 hours, but if you want to soak up as much of the world as possible then that could stretch to 20+ hours easily. Returning to earlier worlds with new gear always opens up new paths to collect more gizmos & bolts, with the pocket dimensions also adding in more of the game to explore. There’s no multiplayer to speak of, which is somewhat expected given previous games in the series – tho some kind of arena wave coop mode with Ratchet & Rivet would’ve been a cool distraction.
What really helps to sell the cinematic element of the game is the Pixar like presentation due in no small part to the stylised world and genuine graphical boost the PS5 provides. As a cutscene ends, the camera pans around and you’re seamlessly back into the game with very little in the way of a graphical drop noticed. What also helps is the hand crafted animation, with the character models stretching and contorting like we see in animated movies, that looks fantastic in motion. The amount of detail within a scene here is a genuine step above what was seen in the 2016 reboot, topped off by an improvement to the raytracing seen in the SpiderMan games, with the game becoming even more chaotic once the particles start to flow during battles. It’s a shame the game doesn’t make more use of the whole portal jumping to different dimensions more, but it is impressive when used.
As is quickly becoming common this generation, there are multiple performance modes depending on how you prefer to play. Fidelity gives you up to full 4K with raytracing and all the bells & whistles at 30fps, Performance drops to around 1800p with some nips and tucks (such as RT removed) but is now 60fps, and Performance RT takes the other mode and adds raytracing back in at around 1440p with the same 60fps. Whichever you choose is almost flawless with barely a drop in sight and the game still pretty much offers the same visual quality when in motion. There is the odd time when running the game without raytracing can make some scenes/areas look off in comparison, but the Performance RT mode pretty much negates the need for the regular one so you’ll likely skip past it anyway.
If you’ve not played anything in the series before, then the easiest way to describe it would be an action platformer – with a heavy emphasis on the action. Returning players will find something that feels familiar, with some tweaks that become noticeable quick. The speed of the game during skirmishes seems much quicker than the 2016 reboot, giving the game an almost bullet hell feel during boss encounters that usually have regular foes backing them up. The local portals can really help you catch a breather in these scenarios as you pull yourself across an area, and the dodge helps to keep you in the fight. Weapons have always been a big part of the series, its a treat seeing what imaginative ones Insomniac can come up with, and here the game has a good mix of old & new. The game makes good use of the Dualsense in this regard, the starting pistol for example will fire semi auto with half a trigger pull with a full pull going full auto – the R trigger will also jitter to go with the on-screen recoil.
For all the good the game offers, and I could go on and on about it all as well, should really pump the brakes and talk about some downsides. There aren’t any major issues, likely minor to a series veteran, but they mainly stem from two things – Enemy variety which subsequently leads to weapon balance. There are only really a few main bosses to fight, and these can be recycled later in the game too, with regular foot soldiers making up the bulk of skirmishes until a couple more varieties are added later to mix it up a little. This means you’ll generally have it figured out how to approach a fight pretty quickly, and this can lead to my next niggle. You can actually get through the game using just a few of the weapons fully upgraded if needs be. An upgraded pistol, bomb & Fungi will generally see you through the game, which is a shame as experimenting with the other weapons can be fun.
For a long time fan of the series like myself, it’s been some wait for a new mainline entry in the series (Into the Nexus released all the way back in 2013) that I’ve been hyped for this since announcement. There are some niggles for sure, but it is a damn good game – as well as the first real glimpse at what these new consoles can offer. Newcomers can find plenty to enjoy as the series formula is relatively pick up & play, with it also being a showpiece for that new box under the TV, and a younger audience would no doubt enjoy the Pixar-like presentation.
Almost a Quantum Leap for the series which looks to offer a Pixar-like 21st century Sliders experience.