Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart - Review

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Martí Micolau

Review for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Game for PlayStation 5, the video game was released on 11/06/2021

After an almost total absence of the iconic duo on the PlayStation 4 generation (exclusion made for the tie-in linked to the film released in 2016) Ratchet & Clank return with a new chapter exclusively on PlayStation 5. Insomniac Games will have managed to make the PlayStation Studios' first major exclusive on the new generation?

Find out in our Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review.

The perfect entry point

From the first trailer, the concept of this new chapter was clear: the journey between dimensions. A narrative gimmick that Insomniac has managed to best manage, giving players an alternative vision of the universe of Ratchet & Clank where they never existed and Dr. Nefarious became Emperor, threatening any form of organic life. Among the members of the resistance to the austere regime of the emperor there is Rivet, the only Lombax in his universe, and who will be the fulcrum of the story of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

One of the first doubts since its first announcement was the position of this new chapter in the narrative continuity of the saga in fact it is necessary to specify how Rift Apart is a direct sequel to Into the Nexus, released on PlayStation 3 in 2013 but fear not, those who have discovered the iconic duo with their PlayStation 4 chapter will still be able to enter this peculiar narrative universe without too many problems. In fact, the beginning of the game is literally a great and majestic parade dedicated to Ratchet & Clank, thus allowing the player to become familiar with the controls with a first tutorial phase, immediately giving the opportunity to move and start collecting the much-loved bolts as well as experimenting with the different types of fire with the first weapons that will be given to us.

The parade, in addition to being a riot of effects, lights, explosions of confetti that show immediately the brute force of the PlayStation 5 hardware, will allow new and old players to explore small versions of the most iconic places of previous chapters, from the planet Veldin where the first encounter between the Lombax and the "robodifetto" took place to the heart-pounding clash in the great Ratchet & Clank clock: A Spasso nel Time.

At the end of the parade, Clank will talk about his special gift: the Dimensioner. This particular tool is part of the narrative of the saga since 2007 with Ratchet & Clank: Weapons of Destruction. Repaired by Clank after the events of Into the Nexus, it would allow Ratchet to travel between dimensions in order to find his race, the Lombax, lost in space-time. To interrupt an initial hesitation and embarrassment of Ratchet is Dr. Nefarious who steals the Dimensioner triggering a splendid sequence that without interruption immediately puts us to the test between grinding on cables and fighting, all while the power of PlayStation 5's new hardware allows for the harmonious balance of a pulsating, responsive and surprisingly detailed city.

What has pleasantly struck us is how much Rift Apart is the perfect intersection between the style of the first trilogy on Playstation 2 and the second on Playstation 3. The doubts about a probable directorial and stylistic change of the series were instilled after the arrival of the chapter for PlayStation 4, strongly linked to the narration of the film, certainly praised for the technical sector but less for the writing and in general "l 'soul' of the series that was a bit lost. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is therefore the perfect entry point for the series but at the same time a new beginning which collects everything that has distinguished the saga without forgetting its past, indeed, using the narrative strand of the future saga (which in fact never ended) to restart with a new adventure that took us to its completion after about thirteen hours of gameplay.

SSD matters

One of the things we liked the most about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was the knowing how to entrust the player within the first twenty minutes of the game, all the main mechanics that will be required for the rest of the adventure, including, the amazing “FendiLink”. 

Scattered throughout the title will be these fissures of space-time that they will allow the protagonist to instantly move from one side of the game scenarios to the other. A mechanic that can only be performed thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5 SSD. The absence of loading screens and the immediate availability of entire planets and dimensional pockets guarantee a seamless gaming experience of any kind by placing the player in front of some sort of great interactive animated film.

Also in the prologue of the adventure takes place one of the sequences that have struck us since the first gameplay trailer of 2020, that is, the continuous change of scenarios that will lead to the separation of Ratchet & Clank, closing the curtain at the introductory phase of the title to open the first chapter of the new adventure of the IP Insomniac. A surprising aspect to consider is how in each section not only the scenario near the action is loaded, but the whole planet (which we will then visit during the adventure), just note how you can also see the crates and other game elements that we will find once landed on the respective planets.

Ratchet & Clank & Rivet

Ratchet & Clank won't be the only playable protagonists of this adventure. Rivet will also join, also the last Lombax of her universe who will meet Clank and with whom she will share part of the adventure in Rift Apart. Rivet unlike Ratchet never had a shoulder, has always been a lone wolf and all of her character traits as well as why she lost her arm, now replaced by a mechanical prosthesis, are displayed gradually throughout the adventure, thus allowing the player to discover Rivet from point of view of Clank and his interactions with other characters.

In terms of gameplay, Rivet has the same move-set as Ratchet: the main difference lies in the melee weapon. Ratchet possesses his trusty Omni-Key while Rivet wields a Hammer. In addition to this there are no parameters and weapons that differ between the two Lombaxes as each weapon purchased by Ratchet and Rivet will be shared in "a single account" and similarly the experience of weapons and health will also be the same throughout the game.

A choice that we appreciate and that allows us not to create a discontinuity between the two characters, recalling the strongly story-driven nature of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart: it it prevents having a scenario where Ratchet has a certain level compared to Rivet and vice versa. Clank instead will be playable in some moments of the story with the inevitable puzzles. These puzzles are based on making a group of copies of Clank reach the finish line using some orbs that will manage gravity, speed and electricity. 

To add to the audience of playable situations and characters there is also Glitch: an insecure but willing anti-virus unit that will help Ratchet clean up some infected terminals. These sections therefore take place within a cybernetic space in which Glitch is equipped with disinfectant weapons that we will perceive through the adaptive triggers of the DualSense, in addition to the individual legs of Glitch every time they touch the surfaces. We will not reveal anything about it, but know that the phases with this nice unit hide its narrative vein that contextualizes the presence of these viruses in the adventure and that deserves to be discovered.

A walk in the dimensions

The novelty of the introduction of a new protagonist has translated into the doubt about the management of game time in the role of Ratchet and Rivet. These uncertainties are exhausted after the first hours of play when the player will be given complete freedom (in relation to your progress) to select the planet to visit.

Ratchet and Rivet will therefore be inextricably linked to a set of planets, consequently, you will not be able to change the characters to your liking, yet, this has not been worrying in terms of play due to the particular characterization of each environment we will visit.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart offers the best exploration experience in the entire saga. Each planet is rich in detail with a vast depth of field that will allow you to see moving objects and characters even over long distances. What was most striking was Insomniac's ability to offer the same technical and content quality on every planet. The futuristic Nefarious City that emanates strong references to Night City is alive in every corner as well as the rich indigenous fauna of Sargasso that will allow you to be explored in every little part thanks to a peculiar means of transport or why not, fly directly on the wings of a flying creature.

If in the previous chapters of the saga a certain linearity in the structure of the planets (which were considered more like levels) could be perceived, in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart you will have the feeling of visiting many medium and large hubs where you can move freely, both to complete the main mission and for the secondary ones that will offer you upgrades or useful collectibles. 

If all this wasn't enough, a further stratification is added to the exploration given by the so-called "dimensional pockets". Scattered around the planets you may come across some dimensional fractures, which, once opened, will give you access to these small areas that you can access without any kind of loading. These areas involve the completion of a platform section at the end of which you will be given a piece of armor and, although they are simple additions, even within them you will find references to other planets and dimensions that give small comic moments and observations by the protagonists.

In some planets, Insomniac wanted to experiment with different gameplay formulas from the traditional ones of the saga. But one of the largest planets is surely Savali, where with Ratchet we will be called to explore these vast lands through the Hoverscarponi which, in this new chapter will require a timed press of the L2 button (the DualSense will generate some resistance) to increase the speed and whiz along the ramps of Savali to collect some optional relics. 

If Savali is therefore a strong reference to what Naughty Dog has achieved with the Madagascar section in Uncharted 4 o Seattle in The Last of Us Part II, Blizar Prime is the planet that will leave you breathless. The more attentive may have glimpsed this mechanic in the game trailer, but let's go in order. Rivet and Clank need to find a particular structure on that planet which, in the universe of Rivet has exploded and what remains of it is a series of debris. In addition to the spectacular scenery, we will find ourselves in front of a crystal, better known as "Phasic Quartz", if hit, it will allow the player to pass into another dimension.

It is not possible to describe the amazement you will feel when with a simple blow, in less than a second the whole planet and therefore, the whole scenario will suddenly change. What used to be a destroyed planet is now a pulsating mine full of life. The dimensional change will therefore become fundamental to explore the two dimensions and reach areas that cannot be reached in one version, translating the experience of the planets that possess this crystal, a welcome novelty.

Fire at will

If the planets of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart exhibit the technical sector of this new iteration, what encloses the pure gameplay of the title is composed of the arsenal available to Ratchet & Rivet. As per tradition, we will have an extensive list of weapons that you can buy from Lady Zurkon and each weapon will be able to increase its experience and thus level up in relation to the amount of damage that will be inflicted on enemies. What has always distinguished the Ratchet & Clank saga is the unusual type of weapons that is granted to the player and also this chapter remains perfectly in line with the spirit of this historic PlayStation IP.

If in the adventure we will be able to buy some weapons from previous chapters, there will be completely new and original models such as the Botanical Irrigator. This weapon will allow you to water your opponents by making them bushes, or one of our favorites is the Rimpallatore, this weapon will shoot a pinball ball (with attached sound) and it will be our job to press the R2 button at the right time to hit the opponent left and right.

Each weapon will be tied to certain types of pressure on the DualSense adaptive triggers as well as the responses of the mouths of fire that will be actively perceived through haptic feedback. Every movement, every dodge and every hit inflicted or suffered will be scaled back in our hands, increasing the immersion of the controlled chaos of the clashes of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

There was talk of "controlled chaos" because, especially for newcomers to the series, the clashes immediately tend to become chaotic following the multitude of shots fired, received and the consequent visual play of effects and particles on the screen, in our opinion perhaps too excessive in certain situations and that could displace less experienced players.

Clashes in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart occur frequently and in areas that are set up with slots for the FendiLink and hooks for the grapple, greatly increasing the dynamism of the clashes to which is also added the possibility (after a certain point in the story) to use Hoverscarponi. Mobility is the keystone of the fights in this chapter and the level design harmoniously embraces this philosophy, thus allowing players to experience their own fighting style according to the game mechanics exclusive to this chapter.

It will be your free choice whether to face the enemies head-on or temporarily evade them using slits to get behind them, since, in some situations, the enemies will have shields and the classic approach will not be enough to eliminate them but a right combination of "passive weapons" will be needed. and active.

Anyone who has played at least one chapter of the series will know how often the supplied arsenal is not a simple weapon that fires but sometimes weapons that continue to perpetrate damage passively come to our rescue, thus allowing the combined use of several burners. For example, calling for help from Funghigno (Mr. Zurkon's replacement) will allow the player to have auxiliary fire while being able to focus on enemies with a different weapon. If in the past, Insomniac didn't put any forcing into this crossfire this time around some enemies will necessarily require a minimum of combination of your arsenal, and all this translates into a gameplay formula that does not stray too far from its origins but manages to evolve consistently over time.

They return after Ratchet & Clank: Height doesn't matter, the armor. In Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, parts can be obtained for respective armor sets. It will be possible to receive damage bonuses for some types of enemies as well as an increase in the percentage of bolts and raritarium or even experience points. It must be emphasized that these modifiers will be applied even without wearing the armor, therefore, they remain a simple aesthetic option (similar to what happens in Spider-Man by Insomniac itself).

The title then offers the classic Challenge mode, or the New Game Plus which will allow you to start over while keeping your arsenal but unlocking other five levels for the weapons that must be purchased in their Omega variant. An additional plan that allows you to increase the longevity of this new chapter with an increased level of difficulty which will guarantee stimulating challenges to players who wish to try their hand at this adventure.

Technical sector and DualSense

Ratchet & Clank have always accompanied the technical progress of PlayStation consoles up to the past generation. We often wonder how it is possible that an IP with an almost similar gameplay in every iteration has not yet tired and does not generate the thought of "more of the same".

One of the possible answers lies precisely in Insomniac's desire to press on the technical sector of their securities and with PlayStation 5 it has reached the pinnacle of the saga. We played Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in 4K with Fidelity mode at 30 (rock solid) FPS. This graphics mode allowed us to appreciate every single detail of the title, every reflected light, every surface that shines through Ray Tracing.

The thoroughness of the technical sector shows how impressive the level reached on PlayStation 5 is. The detail of Clank's body which, being made of metal, reflects light in real time all over its surface, as well as the weapons and armor of the protagonists and more. So you have the feeling of playing an animated film of excellent quality, an important evolutionary step for Insomniac productions and especially for the IP of Ratchet & Clank.

Even in the most intense fights, the frame-rate never dropped, the console has never shown uncertainties allowing us not to regret the performance mode with which we played the whole adventure. Insomniac, however, has proceeded to present not only the Loyalty mode but from the launch also the Performance + RT and Performance modes

With the Performance + RT mode you will perceive the change from 30 to 60 frames per second, with the addition of Ray Tracing and a small reduction in the amount of effects on the screen, similar to the technical treatment operated in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It is difficult to choose the Performance mode which will offer 60 frames per second, sacrificing Ray Tracing and allowing the player to enjoy an increased resolution. 

As for DualSense, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart takes advantage of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers ingeniously. Every single step taken by the player will be perceived distinctly, as well as every bolt collected which will result in a feeling of receiving many small objects on our hands. The planets and structures you interact with will also respond with different effects and sensations in the DualSense like the ever more intense approach of the musical pulsations of the Disco Nefarious or the inevitable rotations with Ratchet's Omni-key, everything is harmonized in order to give the user an additional layering to the gameplay from which it will be difficult to desist.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the best chapter of the entire series. A necessary evolutionary step that however does not change the formula of the iconic IP Insomniac too much: the narration flows pleasantly for the duration of the adventure between jokes and moments of reflection. Longtime fans will find not a few quotes referring to previous chapters and will be able to appreciate more every single aspect of the title; newbies will have the opportunity to discover Ratchet & Clank in their best guise. An even more graceful and responsive movement system will allow players to shape each encounter to their liking and brandish the varied arsenal available with the extravagant weapons of the series, perceiving every single sensation through the DualSense. The planets are among the best ever seen, alive, colorful and deep, no longer linear but increasingly open and changing in a few moments thanks to the amazing technical sector of this new installation of the saga. We find ourselves in front of a chapter of Ratchet & Clank which in fact will be the most important PlayStation 5 exclusive for this 2021 and which unleashes all the potential of what can be shaped in the new generation hardware.

► Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an Adventure-Platform game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 5, the video game was released on 11/06/2021

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