Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – Review

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a bit of a unique title right now in that it is only available on PlayStation 5, unlike most of Sony’s other first party titles.  Our heroes have returned for yet another adventure, however, there are some new additions to the team in the form of a new Lombax and someone else that I will not spoil.  Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart begins after a few years of Ratchet and his crew being retired, for the most part.  A big celebration is about to take place to celebrate Ratchet, Clank, and everything they have accomplished.  This celebration serves as a tutorial for the game and I thought it was a really clever way to do it as they try to re-enact some of Ratchet’s former glory.  Unfortunately things never seem to go as planned for Ratchet and the celebration is cut short.  I won’t spoil the sequence of events but it sets everything up nicely as you embark on another journey.

What isn’t a spoiler is that you visit different dimensions in the game.  After the above events take place you find yourself in a strange place where everything is different.  As you begin your journey to try and figure out what is going on you will notice some familiar, yet different faces.  Most of the people that you know in your dimension are in this new dimension as well, although they might be completely different people with different names.  There is a secret resistance that has formed in this dimension to try and take down the main villain.  Ratchet looks like one of the resistance members and is initially mistaken as one of them.  With that being the case he is pulled into the conflict and tries to help out with that while also trying to figure out how to get back to his own dimension.

Much like in previous Ratchet & Clank games, you will use a wide assortment of weapons on your quest.  You have your “blast pistol” which is essentially just a pistol.  There is the “Executor” which allows you to fire single or quadruple barrels of plasma.  There is also Mr. Fungi which can simultaneously attack enemies and distract them.  These are all weapons that you can get fairly early on in the game and I won’t spoil the ones you can pick later on.  Overall there are 18 weapons that you can eventually receive, and you can upgrade each one of them.  As you progress through the different levels you will come across these blue crystals.  They are raritanium and you will want to smash them to acquire the crystals.  Once you have enough, go to your weapons dealer and begin your upgrade.  Every weapon can be upgraded and leveled up.  As you upgrade, your weapon will level up, which means you can upgrade even further.  Your weapon can be upgraded to level five.  Using the blast pistol as an example, you can increase your max ammo, have rapid shots be more accurate, increase the rate of fire when in rapid fire mode, and tighten the spread for more precise shots.  Being able to improve your weapons in this manner makes it so that you always want to be on the lookout for raritanium.  When you are playing the game it will show up on your map if you get close to one so be sure to keep your eye on your surroundings and pull up your map periodically to study it.  I also want to quickly note that there is a trophy that requires you to get every weapon in the game.  During my playthrough I found that this wasn’t possible during my first playthrough.  Once you beat the game you will unlock Challenge Mode.  Once I started up that mode I saw that there were two more weapons at the dealer and then once I bought those the trophy popped for me.

In terms of difficulty, I found Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart to be pretty well balanced.  There are five different difficulty settings for you to pick from allowing you to customize your experience fairly well.  There is the “Rookie Explorer” which is essentially the easy mode where you can focus mainly on the story.  In this mode you cannot die during combat.  The next level up is “Rookie Recruit” which is almost identical to “Rookie Explorer” other than you can die during battle.  The next is “Rebel Agent” which could be considered the game’s “normal” mode.  This provides you a balanced choice between giving you a little bit more of a challenge while you are trying to save the day.  “Resistance Leader” is just above that and this is for those who might want a bit more of a challenge, and will require that you have quicker reflexes against tougher enemies.  FInally there is the “Renegade Legend” difficulty which is the most difficult mode in the game.  This is where you will be truly tested with the enemy showing absolutely no mercy towards you and giving you a run for your money.  As I mentioned above, once you beat the game you will unlock Challenge Mode.  This is essentially a New Game+ for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.  You will start the game at the beginning with all of your weapons and all of your upgrades.  Challenge Mode, as the title suggests, is also a bit more challenging this time around.  Even if you have the game on easy, this easy mode will be more challenging than it initially was and that goes for every mode.  So if you are someone that really likes a good challenge, you can try and go through the game again on Challenge Mode with the “Renegade Legend” difficulty.  I will note for trophy hunters that there are no difficulty related trophies so if you are a platinum hunter, you don’t need to worry about the difficulty as far as unlocking trophies is concerned.  It should also be noted that if you choose to do a run in Challenge Mode, it will not erase your original file.  It will simply use the second save slot, allowing you to go back to your original file in case you need to find more collectibles or you have otherwise unfinished business.

As I mentioned up above, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is only on the PlayStation 5, which has been a rare move by Sony so far.  In my opinion it has really helped the game though as the game runs amazing well on Sony’s current generation console.  For starters, you can decide what kind of graphics mode you want for your adventure.  You can choose between “Fidelity” which gives you a 30 frames per second experience, however you get features like ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, additional effects, and some increased scene density.  I believe this is the default so if you want one of the other options you will have to change it in the settings.  Next is the “Performance” mode   This gives you a 60 frames per second experience, however, it removes the ray-tracing, replacing it with increased resolution.  Then there is the “Performance RT” which is the hybrid option and honestly probably the one most people will pick.  This will give you a 60 frames per second experience, however, it also includes ray-tracing.  This will have a lower-resolution picture with adjusted lighting, VFX, and scene density.  I will say that I initially went through the game in “Fidelity” mode and the game looked incredible.  During my Challenge Mode run though I switched it up to “Performance RT”.  I found the game to be equally as stunning but now it ran a lot smoother since I was getting that 60 frames per second experience, as opposed to the 30 frames per second.  To be crystal clear, I still greatly enjoyed the game at 30 frames per second but I could definitely feel the difference once I went up to 60 frames.

In terms of “feeling” the game, the DualSense controller does a pretty great job with it.  The tension in the triggers allows you to use different “levels” with some of the weapons.  For example, there is a weapon where if you push down the right trigger only halfway, it puts up a shield to protect you.  If you push the right trigger all the way down though, it will fire a projectile toward an enemy just like any other weapon.  The speaker on the controller helps immerse you into the game even further, having some of the environmental sounds come through it at times, as well as being able to hear part of Ratchet’s equipment as you dash across the terrain.  You can push the touchpad to bring up  the map of the world you are in, along with other kinds of information you might need and it even briefly rumbles when you do that.  As you are dashing across the map the DualSense slightly rumbles as well giving you some tactile feedback that allows you to “feel” some of what the character on screen is doing.  You can hold down the triangle button to bring up the weapon wheel so you can quickly select your instrument of destruction and even that gives you a slight rumble when you make your selection.  Overall the DualSense does a great job of adding in that extra layer of immersion as you make your way through the game.  If you are someone that doesn’t like rumble or any of that extra stuff you can turn all of this off as well.  I would recommend keeping it on but it is nice to have that option.

As I was experiencing everything the game had to offer, I had to appreciate the balance and flow that Insomniac achieved with this game.  The dimension hopping helped keep things fresh, as did the same (but different) cast of characters, but there are also some really cool mini-games that I enjoyed that helped break up the action from time to time.  One of these mini-games was basically getting into a piece of technology that had a virus in it and eradicating that virus.  During this mini-game you become a kind of spider bot as you crawl around the inner workings of the computer dispensing enemies and destroying nests that have formed.  There is some light puzzle solving here but nothing that should give anyone too much trouble.  Within this mini game you can upgrade your weapon as well which will help you get rid of enemies easier as they try to swarm you.  Once you have successfully cleared out all of the nests then you are good until the next time.  The other mini game that I enjoyed has you controlling Clank as you are trying to fix some dimensional rifts.  This also involves some light puzzle solving.  There are some moving parts that you need to get through a course and you do that by getting some orbs and putting them in the right place.  Once you do that the moving parts can successfully get to the end.  You have to do this three times with each time being a tad more challenging and then once you successfully do that, you successfully fix that mini dimension.  If I remember correctly you first encounter this on the second world you visit as you have to save some of that planet’s residents.  I highly enjoyed this mini-game but I appreciate how it didn’t overstay its welcome.  You have to go through this a few times but I never got to the point where I wished I could just be done with it.  I appreciated the increased challenge as I went on and it felt good when I eventually figured the puzzle out.  If you are one of those people who simply can’t stand puzzles like this though, there is an option to skip them altogether.  I decided to skip one just to see what would happen and nothing changed.  I was still able to continue on with the game and it didn’t affect any potential trophies unlocking so you are good to go with whatever route you decide to do.  I would advise at least trying these puzzles out though as I did have fun going through them.

Throughout this review I have been praising Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart pretty highly and rightfully so.  Insomniac has done a great job here.  With that said though, it isn’t perfect and there were a couple issues I have.  While you can run through the game again in Challenge Mode as I mentioned above, you can’t really repeat sections after you clear them.  For example, there is one planet where during the story you take an elevator down to a lab to accomplish some tasks.  Once you accomplish what you need to do you leave but then you aren’t able to come back.  So if you happen to miss a collectible you are going to be out of luck.  To be clear, once you beat the game you can still revisit planets with that save file and do the majority of the things you could before you beat the game.  There are just some specific areas you only have one chance at, unless you want to run through the game again with Challenge Mode.  Another mild frustration for me was the game’s timing was a bit off in a couple instances.  A great example of that is a segment where I need to traverse some land really quickly so that I can be launched into the air and land on top of a moving object.  The problem is that if I try to do that exactly when the game tells me too, it is pretty much impossible to successfully land on that moving object.  After repeatedly trying and not being able to successfully do it, I walked up to the edge of that ramp and just spent a minute or two watching this object move around.  Once it was much closer to me and within range, I backtracked a little bit, used some of the launching pads, and was able to hurl myself off that ramp and land successfully on the aforementioned moving object.  I was happy that I was finally able to do it but a tad frustrated that the game had not paced that out appropriately and I basically had to figure out a workaround.  It would be nice if that was fixed in an upcoming patch but as of the time this review was written, that was my experience with it.

Earlier in this review I spoke about the game’s difficulty and how you can somewhat customize it to your liking.  Something else you can customize (to a certain extent) is the controls and shortcuts in the game.  For starters there is an option for “simplified traversal”.  If you turn this on what it would do is move all traversal actions to the circle button.  There are also some assists that you can turn on to help with the gameplay.  You can turn auto-aim on or off, lock-on on or off, how you want the weapon wheel to behave, and more.  Some of the more interesting options though include items like auto-glide.  If you turn this on then Ratchet will automatically glide when you are in the air.  If you have this turned off, you’ll have to press a button to make Ratchet glide in the air.  There is also a “grind assist” which will slow down time when nearing a hazard when you are grinding on some rails.  There are also a number of visual and contrast options such as being able to turn a high contrast background on and off that could help assist some people with visual clarity on certain elements.  You can also change the icon and prompt size to make it easier to see if certain things on your television are looking small.  There are a number of different options you can explore here to make the game more accessible to people and Insomniac should be commended for this wealth of options they gave to everyone.

Finally is the photo mode that you can use to capture cool moments throughout your adventure.  Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an absolutely gorgeous game and I was using Photo Mode fairly often to capture a scene that I thought looked great, or to get a shot of the environment, or whatever.  This is your typical photo mode that gives you the control to get your perfect shot.  If you just want to get a picture of the environment you can remove the characters from the screen, if you want to try and get an “action” shot you can “play” the visual effects, you can mess with the exposure, field of view, and all of that.  There are different filter types, vignette intensity, film grain strength and more.  The photo mode is deep enough where if you are an experienced photographer you could get some really amazing pictures, however, if you don’t know much about that stuff you should still be able to get some amazing shots of this breathtaking game.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the first brand new Ratchet game in many years.  There was the 2016 release but that was simply a remake.  For me personally, as someone who has gone through both, I greatly prefer Rift Apart.  The 2016 version seemed to have quite a few bugs the farther into the game I went but Rift Apart doesn’t have that same issue, or at least it didn’t for me.  It is a fantastic adventure that should simultaneously feel instantly familiar to Ratchet fans but at the same time feel a bit new with some of the different ideas they incorporated into this adventure.  If you are a fan of Ratchet & Clank it should go without saying by now that I highly recommend this game.  If you are new to the franchise and enjoy semi-open world platformers with a wide assortment of crazy weapons and the ability to explore different worlds and dimensions, I definitely think you should give this game a try.  It might become your favorite new franchise.

Score: 9/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

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