If I had only one sentence to sell you on Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, I’d go with “There is a weapon called the topiary sprinkler that literally turns your enemies into ornamental garden bushes.” Still need more? I’d also mention it’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen, easily rivaling the animation masters at Pixar Studios. Now that I have your attention…buckle up because we’re about to get some context up in here.
I’d largely ignored the Ratchet and Clank series until playing the 2016 reboot of Ratchet & Clank – the one that was a “game based on the movie based on the game”. It was also a semi-reboot of the series and did end up with a healthy share of good reviews despite it’s mediocre plot. Prior to that, I knew the games existed but I was never curious enough to dip my toes in the pool. To my surprise, counting spinoffs, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is in fact the 17th game featuring the duo. My experience with this newest game is framed up against the 2016 installment which, while I found my time spent playing it enjoyable, the 2016 Ratchet & Clank didn’t really leave me with any strong or lasting impression, and I’d largely forgotten about my time with the Lombax (Ratchet) and his robot pal… until now.
The ‘Rift’ in Rift Apart cleverly plays on dimensional rift hopping shenanigans and to the title duo being ‘ripped’ apart early on. Separating Ratchet from Clank gives the story some room to breathe and allows the introduction of their new dimensional counterparts, Rivet and KT-7461 (aka Kit), both of whom easily steal the show from the title duo.
The story opens with a victory celebration for Ratchet and Clank which quickly goes off the rails when Dr. Nefarious (not to be confused with Emperor Nefarious) steals the Dimensionator gun that Clank was gifting to Ratchet for story reasons. Naturally the gun goes haywire and creates giant purple rifts everywhere causing rapid environmental calamity. These rifts send you bursting forth from a dystopian dark future cityscape into some unexplored Jurassic junglescape almost instantaneously. These shifts in scenery put on dazzling display of what the power of the PS5 can accomplish with the new lightning fast load times. Another next-gen feature on prominent display is the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback combined with the adaptive button triggers to simulate a whole new range of tactile sensations. Much more than just a vibration/rumble, the new controller can express more subtle feelings, like what does running across an electric billboard with magnetic boots actually feel like? Rift Apart taps into this functionality to give unique sensations to Ratchet and Rivet’s wide arsenal of weaponry and environmental transversal.
Which leads us to the meat of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. If you were to ask someone what makes the Ratchet & Clank series special, they would almost certainly point to the wild and crazy variety of weaponry at your disposal. I mentioned the topiary sprinkler earlier, but my true favorite might be the Drillhound, an adorable drill that seeks out your target with a pleasant “yip” before exploding. By the end of the tale you will have access to slightly over 20 different weapons, all upgradeable through a combination of experience points gained from repeated usage and by investing the “Raritanium” that you find in the semi-hidden nooks and crannies of the worlds you visit. Between weapon leveling and ammo management you will be encouraged to continuously swap through your arsenal, keeping things varied and fresh.
If the weapons are what the series is most known for, the world design is perhaps the secret sauce. Every world you visit has an interesting twist that makes exploration a real treat. One of the later worlds has you hoping back and forth between two realities of a research facility. In one version, the facility is a spooky run down facility where you must evade a stalking monster reminiscent of the style of the movie Alien. Its alternate reality has you in a fully functional version of the research station populated by robotic workers, where your cover as an interior decorator is quickly blown forcing you to start blasting your way through Emperor Nefarious’s robot soldiers. Only a couple planets employ the “two sides to the same coin” dimensional hopping gimmick and each location feels distinct and memorable for their own merits.
By now you have probably figured out that not only did I greatly enjoy my time with this game but highly recommend it to just about anyone who has a PS5. The game is family friendly and safe to play in front of kids for those of us with young ones. In short, I had a blast, and I think both newcomers and series veterans should find a lot to love here. Go check it out!
Overall Rating: A