What do you think about when you hear the words: “next generation”?
Glimpses of ray tracing, particle effects, and hyper fast load speeds come to mind? Does the idea of a AAA IP with a AAA budget that pushes fidelity, narrative, and gameplay boundaries spark any interest?
Insomniac Games would like to have a word. The Burbank based PlayStation studio is well on it’s way to legendary status amongst the gaming greats, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart might be the most compelling case for what is ‘next generation’. For those of you who’ve kept up with the coverage, the visuals are spectacular, the gameplay is innovative, and the tech on display is just mind boggling, but Insomniac aimed HIGHER.
Ratchet and Clank is a franchise that’s been around the block. The nearly 2 decade old duo have graced some of us seasoned gamers since the PlayStation 2 days. Through multiple sequels, spin-offs, and even a full length feature film; they were more or less ingrained into the PlayStation DNA. So, can you imagine the hype when an entirely new full budget game was announced for the PlayStation 5. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and as of last week, I haven’t been able to get my mind off it since.
This is Remoteplay’s review of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
For fans of previous games, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is actual canon. Following the mainline entries, the story is a continuation of where things dropped off in the PS3 entry: A Crack in Time. However, it should be noted that the narrative is light hearted and easy to follow, so you don’t have to be a scholar in Ratchet lore to fully grasp just what’s going on.
In March of last year, Mark Cerny took to a virtual stage to dive into the nuts and bolts of what would define the next generation. That’s right, this is the paragraph where we talk about the “game changer” for the next generation. If you’re reading this, then I’m sure you’ve heard of the three letters: S-S-D. While I’m guilty of not fully understanding the full technical details and their implications, Rift Apart is doing some special things.
Best example? Throughout the game are Rifts, where a player can teleport into another level- complete with entirely new textures, enemies, and assets. Another example? The screen will fade into another scene, similar to how motion pictures like Star Wars have been doing it for years. And my personal favourites, a Link to the Past / Ocarina of Time like alternative timeline reloading of a level- where a planet can be successful and brimming in one dimension yet destroyed and decayed in another. The technology is doing things at a quality level I’ve never seen on any other platform.
When it comes to story, Rift Apart delivers! It starts with a small sequence with a mysterious new character named Rivet helping a poor citizen in an unknown city. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Clank get a hero’s welcome in Megalopolis where a parade takes place honouring the duo. Clank has developed the Dimensionator (a nifty little gadget that allows the user to travel to alternate Dimensions) as a gift for Ratchet.
Things aren’t so celebratory for long, however, as the evil Doctor Nefarious crashes the parade and steals the Dimensionator. Ratchet tries to retrieve it, but things go awry. The Dimensionator triggers a blast and ends up opening portals to all manner of different worlds. Clank tries to stabilise the Dimensionator, but he ends up losing his arm. Shockingly, our heroes find themselves in an alternative version of Megalopolis – Nefarious City where an entirely new version of Doctor Nefarious is known as Emperor Nefarious. A powerful ruler of the Galaxy.
A now separated Clank (from Ratchet) is picked up by Rivet (the Lombax from before) and things jump into overdrive. From this point on, I’ll refrain. We have a strict no spoiler policy here. For those curious, the story is well written with great humour and lovable characters. Rivet is a total standout and makes this game really special.
In terms of gameplay, this is the same Ratchet you’ve grown up with, except everything is painted with a fresh coat of next-generation paint. This is, at its core, a third person shooter with light platforming elements. Ratchet and Clank hangs its hat on one thing: weapon diversity.
And boy do they not disappoint. Rift Apart is brimming with tons of weapons. Whether its the magnificent blast of the Devastator, the hilarity of the Topiary Sprinkler, or the shock of interdimensional (no spoilers) attacks with the Omega Ryno 8. Rift Apart wears it’s heritage well with creative, zany, and theatrical weapons.
As for platforming, multiple portions of the game will delve into set-pieces that you’ll grind through. Additionally, these Uncharted-esque moments will sometimes have you riding on a dragon, spin jumping, hook gliding, and wall running your way through spectacle that I cannot understand how the PS5 renders all of this.
Some people out there may be a little disappointed to find out that Rivet plays exactly the same as Ratchet. Personally, I was hoping that Rivet would have some unique abilities, but unfortunately this is nothing more than a palette swap. On the bright side, Rivet’s character is such a cool, refreshing, bad ass take on a protagonist that I find her being my new favorite character in the Ratchet-verse.
I am going to try and not gush when I say this, but Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, is the most beautiful game I’ve ever played. On a personal level, I recently built a gaming PC kitted out with an RTX 3080 – and so far, Ratchet leaves everything I’ve played on the personal computer in the dust.
There are moments during my playtime where I was watching a cutscene and was so transfixed with the quality that I actually was gobsmacked that when I moved my controller I was in ACTUAL gameplay. There are dozens of moments like this littered throughout the game where you, the player, will be confronted with a cutscene / cinematic / wipe to a different scene- and you are actually playing and in control. It’s just jaw dropping.
There are so many unique NPC’s, animations, small / grand details, and environments in this game. Whether it’s in a dystopian city where everything is polluted and overcrowded, or a lush jungle environment with all manner of natural fauna / prehistoric creatures, or a futuristic land of an alternate reality teaming with particle effects to knock your socks off- the game does not let up. I have to say this: the artists at Insomniac Games are on a whole other level.
As for the tech- the game ticks every single box. Volumetric lighting? Check. Ray Tracing? Check. Optional 60 FPS mode? Check. Optional Native 4K resolution? Check. Toggles to adjust Motion Blur / Chromatic aberration? Check.
Player’s are presented with three different graphical modes. The first is a Native 4K resolution with all bells and whistles cranked up (that includes you Ray Tracing). The second is a Performance mode where the buffer targets 60 FPS whilst dropping Ray Tracing. Last, and my personal favorite, is a mode called Performance Ray Tracing, where the game targets 60 FPS but sacrifices resolution, crowd density to keep all the effects in play.
What more can I say? Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the very first game I’ve played that I actually feel justifies the next-generation of consoles. At the tail end of the PS4, I didn’t actually think this new generation would be that big of a leap, but the fine folks at Insomniac have managed to one up every single expectation I had, and have my head in the clouds.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is breathtaking. It’s a PlayStation 5 exclusive that actually demonstrates what the intrinsic hardware is capable of. It’s a beautiful take on an established character and pushes him into 2021 with all the fanfare and budget of the best game’s available today. In an era where mascot platformers are few and far between, Ratchet and Rivet manage not only to stand out amongst the crowd, they manage to do it in style. If it’s not clear by now, this is THE reason to buy a PlayStation 5. If that’s not enough- I’ll say it bluntly, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is one of my favorite games of all time.
A review code was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games / Publisher: PlayStaion Studios
Release date: 11/06/2021