It’s been five years since the Ratchet & Clank remake hit shelves for PS4 alongside it’s Pixar-esque movie counterpart. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart keeps the softer Pixar tone of the 2016 game but takes place after 2013’s Into the Nexus. The story opens on a dark rainy planet and a new character on a covert mission to retrieve a robot before saving a member of the resistance. Here we’re introduced to our new robot armed protagonist: Rivet. Following this we’re sent into a beautiful parade celebrating Ratchet & Clank’s heroic deeds over the years. This opening scene shows off just how impressive the PS5 is, and demonstrates the absolute beauty of the game. From the fur on Ratchet to the way rocket thrusters affect the natural lighting, this game is an amazing showcase of the PS5’s abilities. Rift Apart can be played in 4k at 60fps under “Performance mode,” but this lacks ray tracing. 4k with Ray Tracing is known as “Fidelity Mode”. Whereas “Performance mode RT” allows 60fps and ray tracing at the cost of a lower resolution. Each mode is incredibly gorgeous and the two that feature raytracing displays spectacular lighting effects. A classic Ratchet & Clank villain, Dr. Nefarious, crashes Ratchet’s parade and steals the dimensionator which ultimately breaks, leading to thousands of unstable dimensional rifts that separate our heroes and sets up the rest of the game.
Story has always been one of the shining points of Ratchet & Clank. Boasting a smart, yet funny and heartwarming narrative, and this entry is no different. Its mood is more akin to the 2016 game, opting for a more family friendly, heartfelt story and similar comedy to go along with it. This isn’t an unwelcome change, but it is a stark change if you’re coming from the PS2 era of the series like I am. That being said, the story revolves around Ratchet and Clank being stranded in an alternate dimension where Dr. Nefarious is Emperor Nefarious, ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. A new character, Rivet, is fully introduced here; the dimensional counterpart to Ratchet. While she shares his moveset, Rivet has a robotic arm, rocks a hammer instead of a wrench, and has an unique character arc throughout the game. Clank meets Rivet in the new dimension and Ratchet meets a new robot they call Kit. The two pairs work together to build a new dimensionator. Most of the new characters are dimensional counterparts of the classic Ratchet & Clank characters, but with a twist.
The gameplay has the same feel as the older games in the series with more polish and quality of life features to make moving around the larger environments a breeze. Every new ability, currency, item, and gun is shared between the two playable characters Ratchet and Rivet, making it less of a hassle when switching between the two. Each weapon has its own distinct feel which is only amplified by the DualSense’s haptic feedback having custom vibrations for every gun at every fire rate. Like other games in the series, your weapons will level up as you use them, with a cap of Level 5 where they reach a new form and have an added ability. For instance, the blaster pistol once leveled up to 5 gains a spread shot, firing three shots at once instead of just one. Once you complete the game, each weapon has an omega version that can be purchased for a premium price and then upgraded for another 5 levels up to level 10.
Collectables are scattered across the worlds of Rift Apart. Like in previous Ratchet & Clank games, Golden Bolts unlock “Cheats”. These cheats are primarily aesthetic and change the color of your weapons, big head mode, or the appearance of bolts found on the ground. A new collectable is armor pieces. These are primarily retrieved from pocket dimension rifts and side quests, and provide an aesthetic change for your hero. If you complete an armor set you will receive a passive bonus such as increased bolts retrieved from boxes and enemies, or less damage from creatures native to whatever planet you’re currently on. Each armor set can be customized with different colors so you can have the same armor on both Ratchet and Rivet, but have their own styles. One planet has a unique collectable called “Lorbs”. These are Lombax orbs describing the mysterious origin of the Lombaxes and their dimension hopping. Raritanium is another returning collectable currency that allows Ratchet and Rivet to further upgrade their weapons. These are found either in blue crates with crystals growing on top of them or in the wilderness of the worlds growing naturally out of the landscape. The final collectable is the Spybots. These are scattered through the planets and give extra exposition for the dimensions our heroes find themselves in. Collecting all ten unlocked the best weapon in the game, the RYNO 8. Like all other weapons, it can be upgraded, bought again, and upgraded to level 10. All of these collectables are visible on the map but some are more difficult to reach than you might think, requiring puzzle completion or utilizing your skills in unique ways.
After completing the story the player has the option to start a challenge run. This is new game+, but with tougher enemies. You keep your weapons, armor, and all the collectables except for the Lorbs. Upgrades are a bit more expensive. To make up for this, there is a bolt multiplier that gives you more bolts for every kill but resets every time the hero takes damage.
The soundtrack is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, the same composer from Thor: Ragnarok and this pairing was a phenomenal choice. The style he adds with synth heavy tracks adds to the space epic in an unparalleled fashion. Even the scenes where you’re on a desolate planet, the score serves to amplify that isolation. While no tracks stand out on their own, each fit perfectly with the action and scenery.
Overall Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a masterpiece. A true testament of what the PS5 is capable of and what is to come with all the exclusives on the horizon. Insomniac games knocked it out of the park with the perfect balance of gameplay, music, and story. This game is gorgeous and plays great in each screen mode.