Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a sequel that clings closely to its storied legacy and never betrays the foundation laid in 2002. From the second I took control of the blurry Lombax, my muscle memory kicked in and I turned around in the air and smashed boxes like I had never stopped. Insomniac Games made a sequel for long-time fans that hits the right classic notes and feels like a glorious reunion, even though these characters have never left our site. The high doses of nostalgia are handled with care, but are only half of what makes this sequel a must-have for PlayStation 5 early adopters.
Rift Apart is the showpiece of the PlayStation 5. It checks all next-generation speakers and shines with performance, speed, sound and control. Combined with the proven gameplay of this series, the experience is absolutely sizzling and makes for an entertaining roller coaster ride from start to finish.
One of the coolest technological accomplishments in Rift Apart is how Ratchet travels between dimensions. While he is struggling through a strange world, a window into another reality can open in front of him, through which he can bravely jump through. The change between the places happens at lightning speed and Ratchet suddenly finds himself in a completely different world or reality. These transition moments are as magical and fun as they sound, and often impress you with how different the next world is compared to the one you are in right now.
Insomniac sometimes uses these fast transitions for exciting gameplay sequences, such as riding a runaway beast at breakneck speed through a series of dimensional rifts. Portals are also placed in combat areas to allow for faster traversal of the area, a touch that sounds small but adds another layer of strategy to the mix.
Through a beautifully written story, we quickly learn that Ratchet and Clank are jumping back and forth between two specific dimensions, both of which have the same planets and characters. The always amusing Doctor Nefarious believes he has a better chance of conquering the alternate dimension. Since events developed differently in each reality, the characters can be radically different. In reality, as fans know, we have, for example, Skid McMarx, a burnout surfer who hasn’t done much. In the other dimension, Skid is a seasoned resistance fighter named Phantom. Ratchet appears to have a double in the other existence as well, and her name is Rivet, a new character who breathes new life into this series.
Rivet brings history to life and is brought to life through a series of mysteries that give it a unique pulse. Throughout her history, Insomniac has provided satisfactory answers about who she is and what happened to her. She is playable for half the adventure, but unfortunately a copy of Ratchet on the battlefield. It has no distinguishing features that make it stand out. The duo share the same weapons, upgrades, armor, and experience points they earned – a solution that reduces confusion and focuses on advancement, which in turn deprives each character of their individuality. Yes, this takes into account the concept of duality of dimensions and keeps the gameplay flowing in a consistent way, but it also feels like a missed opportunity to change things up and really create a new character.
While we maintain the same colorful cartoon look we’ve come to expect from every part of this series, the level of detail in Rift Apart goes through the roof in a stunning way. Don’t be surprised if you pause to examine the details of the most trivial things. I was amazed at the wool of a sheep and said audibly “Wow” when I saw the sheer size of a Godzilla-sized robot towering over one of the levels. I also realized that given the densely populated areas, it is a little harder to find stacks of breakable boxes, which I find positive as I was more environmentally conscious. So much is happening in every world. The artists at Insomniac did a great job coming up with colorful alien worlds for the player to traverse. Trust me when I say you should play it in Performance RT mode (which delivers 60 frames per second and ray traced).
The DualSense controller is also sometimes fascinating and improves every weapon with tailor-made haptic feedback and a clever adaptive trigger function. Every weapon delivers an unmistakable and satisfying kick – be it the rhythmic pulsation of the ricochet gun or the feeling that the Negaton Collider is boiling in your hands before it emits a rattle with its burst of energy. I also really like that each weapon has two modes of fire: a light tap on the trigger pulls the first, which is usually more precise and conservative, and a full pull basically unleashes hell.
This series has always been known for its inventive weapons and how different they are from each other, and Rift Apart delivers a nice selection of firearms that gives the player everything they need – like a rocket launcher and a sniper rifle. The most ingenious weapon this time around is the topiary sprinkler, which turns enemies into beautiful bushes and freezes their movements for a few seconds. This weapon, like many in this group, has great combo potential and helps keep mobs at bay. The new dimensional dash is the most practical innovation in combat and allows laser beams and melee attacks to be dodged with ease. This movement also helps traverse in a fun way.
Most of the missions Ratchet and Rivet undertake are great fun and often deliver huge set-piece moments with story sequences sewn right in, just like Insomniac’s Spider-Man games. You can move freely between the planets and decide whether you want to tackle a side mission or the next story beat. Some enemy types are a bit repetitive (especially in the arena) but the action is nice and varied and the flow between locations is excellent. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Clank or Spider-Bot mini-games, but they offer a break from the hectic battle at the right time.
I had a smile on my face most of the time through Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s a great sequel to the series that is just plain fun. It steals your eye with its breathtaking views, makes you interested in the characters and is loaded to the limit with fanservice (especially in the alternate dimension and a weapon that you have to assemble). Insomniac clearly had a lot of fun working on this game, and just before the credits roll, it leaves us with a taste of an even bigger adventure.