Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review for PS5

Platform: PS5
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Before the impending release of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the last time we were treated to a new Ratchet and Clank title was back in 2016 for the PS4 which seems like a rather long time ago at this point. Titled simply ?Ratchet & Clank? (our original review here) it was kind of an origins story game which mashed-up the motion picture (remember that?) and the 2002 PS2 game with some interesting new gameplay features and systems. It has since become a Greatest Hits title, a free PlayStation Plus download, and has more recently received a timely PS5 patch that impressively bumped up the framerate and enhanced the visuals. It goes without saying that we missed the intergalactic Lombax/Robot duo and were extremely happy to see Insomniac and Sony put their full weight behind a next-generation experience on the PS5. Was that 5+ year wait worth it? Oh for sure.

When the PS5 was first revealed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was pretty much front and center as a showpiece for the flashy new next-gen hardware. With Insomniac Games already having cut their teeth on Marvel?s Spider-Man Remastered and Marvel?s Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the platform, we really had no doubt that they would bring Ratchet and Clank back in a magical way. And that they did.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an action-packed, fun to play, humorous and wholesome action/shooter/platformer that checks off all the right boxes for a quality new Ratchet and Clank release. There?s outrageous weaponry, memorable characters, fun gadgets, just the right amount of exploration, and of course really attractive visuals. The production values are quite high and a lot of care and love seemingly went into the design of the game — although the same can be said of most of Insomniac’s output.

Thanks to Dr. Nefarious, his alternate dimension counterpart and a faulty Dimensionator machine which ends up ripping through the fabric of spacetime, Ratchet and Clank?s new adventure is an intergalactic and interdimensional one. Their quest to stop the destruction of the galaxy and heal the rifts popping up all around takes them to some new and familiar locations, as well as alternate versions of them. Along the way we are also introduced to a number of character analogs, including a rebel female Lombax named Rivet, a bot named Kit, the more capable ?Emperor” Nefarious and many more that I?ll definitely avoid spoiling. Needless to say the characters and voicework are top notch as is the story which takes some twists and turns and occasionally a more serious tone. The game is just as character driven as previous installments and splitting time more or less evenly between the two Lombaxes provides some interesting perspective.

Ratchet is every bit as nimble as he?s always been, and the platforming, traversal, usage of gadgets and shooting is fluid, easy to grasp and intuitive. As a side note ?Ratchet? in this case refers to Ratchet and Rivet since despite them being different characters, they play exactly the same and share XP levels, weapons, gear and whatnot. From a progression standpoint, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart follows the light RPG-style systems found in the 2016 PS4 title (that I spent some time playing recently on a PS5), which worked really well then… and now. Earning XP, obtaining optional armor sets, unlocking new weapons and upgrades and generally keeping well-equipped is a streamlined process and well paced. Even with a little light additional exploration to collect bolts to purchase weapons or raritanium crystals to upgrade weapons, Ratchet/Rivet border on being overpowered for most enemy encounters on Normal difficulty fairly quickly. Gadgets including the new Rift Tether, hurlshot, swingshot and various forms of boots are tied to the story and don?t require any real effort to acquire.

The most high profile new gameplay hook (pun sorta intended) in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is of course the Rift Tether gadget, which allows Ratchet to grab onto an open rift within range to teleport through objects or travel through space in the blink of an eye. The mechanics are used quite a lot, from puzzle solving and exploration, to chaotic boss fights, and it?s definitely a nice addition to the series. The tether movement is slightly disorienting the first few times, but players will likely pick it up very quickly.

Clank of course gets his time to shine here and there as well in a few puzzle solving sequences which break up the action in just the right places, but thankfully don?t overstay their welcome. There?s also an adorable little anti-virus spider bot Glitch which assists our heroes a couple of times during the adventure. Overall, after the story is done (which is around 15 hours on normal difficulty) there are a handful of extra side missions with optional armor sets, spybots, gold bolts and some collectibles to track down, along with weapons to acquire and enhance to keep completionists somewhat busy.  There’s also a new game+ style Challenge Mode for those willing take it to the next level.

Circling back to the visuals, Insomniac has definitely outdone themselves in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. In technical terms, the default Fidelity mode which outputs dynamic 4K resolution at 30fps with advanced ray tracing and high quality assets and effects is absolutely gorgeous — don?t get me wrong — but the magical ?Performance RT? mode, which cranks out dynamic 4K / 60fps with some form of ray-tracing is the real star of the show. After playing most of the game in Fidelity (before Performance was patched in) and then switching over to Performance RT for the remainder, I?d be hard pressed to pick out any glaring differences in effects or resolution. The silky smooth 60fps framerate more than makes up for any perceived graphical deficiencies and is similar to the mode they patched into Spider-Man: Miles Morales. In less-technical terms, Rift Apart is super colorful, extremely well animated and approaches, if not surpasses that pre-rendered animated CG look quite often. The enemies, from giant mechanical bosses to pesky swarms of Amoeboids, are diverse, nicely designed and just challenging enough to keep players on their toes.

The features offered by the PS5 and the DualSense controller add a lot to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and are put to really good use all around. This is especially evident when going from the previous PS4 R&C game (via PS5 BC) to Rift Apart. Even on the same exact home theater equipment the 3D audio output is immediately noticeable when compared to the fairly standard surround sound in the 2016 release. The DualSense also greatly contributes to the experience with plenty of audio output coming from the built-in speaker along with some inventive haptic feedback in the controller and adaptive triggers. And those load times?  Well, there aren’t any.

If I had to say anything negative about the experience, it would be that it’s over a little too soon.  For as long as the adventure lasts, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart does pretty much everything that a Ratchet and Clank fan and PS5 player would hope for. It tells a great story, has trademark humor and quality voice acting, and the pacing and gameplay is always satisfying and enjoyable. If you?re looking for a new PS5 exclusive for the summer, this is it.

Note: Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A