Insomniac’s return to Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 5

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5) Review
Video Version

atchet & Clank: Rift Apart was announced last year on June 11th during the PlayStation 5 showcase. Alongside Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I was extremely excited for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The title showcased the power of the PS5, instantly going from one dimension to another. The reveal of a new playable lombax, who will soon be known as Rivet, also had me excited for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Her inclusion within the story keeps things interesting. Gameplay wise, it looked like the most refined Ratchet & Clank title to date with new weapons and gadgets to boot. The traversal mechanics of dashing and wall running looked good to keep the series from getting stale. The State of Play two months ago kept the excitement going as they showcased 15 minutes of gameplay, featuring both Ratchet & Rivet. Now that it’s finally out, is it worth the $70 price tag as a PS5 exclusive?

he story of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart starts with the iconic duo being celebrated for the heroes they are. They have been retired for awhile now and Clank has a surprise for Ratchet. Clank, during his spare time, fixed the dimensionator to allow Ratchet to search for the other lombaxes. Ratchet, not really sure how to handle the surprise, their archnemesis, Dr. Nefarious, crashes the party. After stealing the dimensionator and a scuffle between both parties, the three of them are scattered across a dimension where Dr. Nefarious wins. Clank is found by Rivet who doesn’t take Clank’s story of another lambox running around as fact. After discovering Clank is telling the truth, Rivet decides to help Clank in restoring the world and stopping Dr. Nefarious. The overall story is standard for the Ratchet & Clank series. The inclusion of another lambox and interdimensional hopping makes the game’s world feel even bigger in Ratchet & Clank’s already massive world.

I believe Insomniac Games wanted this title to be an entry point for the series for those who have never played a Ratchet & Clank game before. The story does reflect that in some regard as other characters from the Ratchet & Clank universe will pop in but never as a prominent force for the story. The story is very much focused on Ratchet, Clank, and Rivet’s journey in stopping Dr. Nefarious. Rivet isn’t just a copy and paste job of Ratchet. She has her own personality and backstory which helps drive her own motives in the game’s story. There’s a reason behind every decision and move she makes which is awesome to see. Insomniac Games knew introducing another lambox character was important and took the proper steps in introducing her. The last time another lambox was introduced was Azimuth in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time who had clear ties with Ratchet’s past and made for an amazing character in the game’s fantastic story. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, after only one playthrough, delivers a satisfying story for the series while introducing new and colorful characters.

he gameplay met all of my expectations. It’s by far the most refined gameplay the Ratchet & Clank series has seen so far. I mean, after working on the series since the PlayStation 2, I’m glad Insomniac Games still know how to keep Ratchet & Clank feeling new.

Rivet Gameplay on Planet Sargasso

Ratchet & Rivet’s gameplay is pretty much the same. Nothing different from their gameplay styles, pretty much identical/the same. The gun play, the platforming; it all returns with a few new toys to play with. Buying and upgrading weapons works just like before. Purchase new weaponry with bolts and upgrade the weapons by using them frequently to gain levels. In addition, use raritanium to upgrade weapons in certain areas to take advantage of a weapon’s full power. Fans of the series will recognize most of the weapons but the new ones shouldn’t be ignored either. Obviously, you’ll gravitate towards certain weapons over others but the arsenal this game offers is plentiful. The phantom dash is one of the new traversal mechanics introduced for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It allows the player to dash in one of the four directions while being invulnerable from incoming attacks. You can also do this move while jumping which can help in extensive platforming sections.

Ratchet performing the “phantom dash” while in combat

I’m honestly so used to jumping back and forth while shooting my weapons, it’s nice to get another move that assists in combat. Also, the phantom dash does assist in extending a jump to reach those far away platforms. Wall running is kind of cool in this game, since you don’t slowly descend as you go further along the wall. It does feel kind of awkward at first but I got used to it rather quickly. The slingshot makes a return to assist in swinging over large gaps.

Ratchet using the Rift Tether to dimensional hop across the gap

Dimensional hopping is the gimmick for this title, so you can use them to reach greater heights or travel over large gaps. There are also these pocket dimensions which serve as mini platforming challenges. They’re never too hard to figure out and usually have a collectible at the end of its path.

The armor upgrades are now more for cosmetics rather than making Ratchet/Rivet more durable to enemy attacks. The armor pieces do offer bonuses like less damage to certain enemy types or more experience points but nothing too major. This change is kind of jarring because all full length Ratchet & Clank games prior to this one, the last one being Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, pretty much required the player to buy these upgrades to withstand enemy attacks.

Rivet in the full Carbonox Armor

Now that it’s more of a cosmetic feature with slight bonuses, I’m actually okay with this. For one, most of the armors in this game aren’t my style since most of the helmets cover Ratchet/Rivet’s face completely (I know you can not wear the helmet and put on the other armor pieces but even then, the armors in this game aren’t that cool in my opinion). Second, having the armor for cosmetics allows the player to have the freedom to not use any armor pieces throughout their playthrough. It’s definitely nice walking around as Ratchet/Rivet without any armor restricting their look + it makes the armor more of a collectible now rather than a required purchase to continue playing. A change that is welcoming but I can see some Ratchet & Clank elitists not liking it. Other collectibles to be found are the gold bolts and info bots. The info bots unlock the RYNO which is the strongest weapon in the game. All the collectibles are found while exploring each planet. Some are easier to find than others but the side missions and collectibles as a whole keep the fun going.

Additional gameplay elements include the scuttle bugs, the hoverboots, and the flying dragon. Driving the scuttle bug isn’t that bad. It’s required when moving across terrain that Ratchet/Rivet can’t walk over. The scuttle bug functionally works.

Ratchet using the hoverboots

The hoverboots make a return and they’re still fun as hell to use. They’re used as a way to travel faster while exploring the planets, you can even build up speed on your own now by mashing the L2 button a couple of times. The hoverboots are by far my favorite tool for increasing mobility.

I’m pretty sure it’s not called this but the flying dragon sections with Rivet are so bad. They don’t feel good to control whatsoever and having to travel across the planet with it is even more of a hassle. You can’t park the dragon wherever you want, it has to be in these designated spots on the map. I understand this design choice since it would probably break the game if the dragon was given full freedom to park wherever. Still, controlling the dragon never feels good. The hacking sections are now dedicated to this robot AI called Glitch. Glitch sections are just about maneuvering through the area to destroy the viruses. They’re sort of mindless, running and gunning sections. All you need to worry about is destroying the shields before getting to the virus. The glitch sections happen so infrequently, I’m okay with how they function. Clank has his own gameplay sections once again. This time, they’re all about getting these clones of himself to get to the end of the path. Utilizing these different spheres to manipulate the clones, these Clank sections are really fun puzzles. I get excited whenever another Clank section comes up because the puzzles are satisfying to solve and complete.

Clank guiding his clones to the Meta-Terminal

In short, the gameplay of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is fairly solid.
The gun play, the platforming, all of the series staples are here and greatly polished by Insomniac. New features like the phantom dash keep the platforming feel refreshing. Exploration is rewarded with collectibles to find throughout each planet. Other gameplay styles for the most part get the job done, except for the flying dragon. Despite the 5 year gap from the last Ratchet & Clank game, Insomniac Games still know how to create a fulfilling R&C experience in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

Rivet and Clank

resentation wise, the game looks phenomenal on the PlayStation 5. This is the best Ratchet & Clank have looked to date with no loading times thanks to the PS5’s SSD. Fidelity mode really makes the game’s graphics pop while performance mode shows what 60fps Ratchet & Clank looks like. Never once did I notice frames dip or graphic glitches while playing Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers of the DualSense controller are used to a certain extent. You do feel the triggers while using certain weapons. It does feel kind of nice pulling the trigger all the way down when using the shotgun weapons. Pulling the trigger half way down does shoot certain weapons differently as well. I’m kind of impressed with how Insomniac Games used the DualSense controller. It’s neat for sure but I’m not necessarily blown away by it. I did run into some weird and random glitches. The first one literally happened in the opening part of the game where this door didn’t open and I had to restart from the last checkpoint. When I would preview a weapon’s video in the shop, the game would just straight up break which forced me to restart my PS5. Some other ones I ran into like this invisible floor and a NPC showing up in front of the shop. It feels weird to say this but this is the buggiest Insomniac Games Ratchet & Clank title ever. I’m not sure if it’s because of the new hardware of the PS5 but you’ll run into a couple of bugs in any given playthrough. Insomniac can patch these bugs up later down the road but as it stands right now, the game isn’t running perfectly on the PS5. Regardless, the overall presentation of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is passable. While the game does look amazing on the PS5 hardware and instant loading from one section to another, the bugs and glitches prevent this game’s presentation from being outstanding.

conclusion, I had an enjoyable time playing Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The story eases players back into the series while introducing new characters. The core gameplay with Ratchet & Rivet is as fun as ever with new tools and gadgets to work with. Other gameplay features like the hoverboots and the new Clank sections are also welcoming additions. The flying dragon parts are still the worst part of the gameplay in my opinion. The presentation does show both sides of the PS5’s power. Remarkable graphics for the Ratchet & Clank series with instant loading between areas. Glitches and bugs will happen in any given playthrough as of right now, possibly because of the hardware being relatively new. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, while not perfect, is still a worthy 3D platformer as a PS5 exclusive. Whether or not it’s worth that $70 price tag, I’ll let you be the judge of that. The game’s runtime averages about 9–11 hours to complete. Obviously longer if you decide to go for 100% completion and run it back all over in new game+, also known as challenge mode. Insomniac Games for sure put a lot of time and effort into bringing back the Ratchet & Clank duo on the PlayStation 5, so I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Video Version

Travis “tvsonic” Vuong
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