Man, the games industry has changed so much, and not for the better! I miss the old classic franchises like God of War, which…wait, you’re saying they released one of those a couple years ago and there’s another on the way? Oh. Well…Red Dead Redemption was awesome and I can’t believe they haven’t brought that one ba–…oh, they have. Final Fantasy? Yup? What about Ratchet and Clank?! I loved that series as a kid! How dare they not come out with a new one?!
Well, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is here and, unsurprisingly, it’s pretty fantastic, acting as a showcase for everything the PlayStation 5 brings to the table.
Catlike Lombax Ratchet and his robo-pal Clank are still galactic heroes! That’s pretty much permanent by this point, they’ve saved several galaxies enough times over that they might as well get used to hero-hood. At yet another parade in their honor, Clank presents Ratchet with a dimension-ripping gift that will allow the two to search for Ratchet’s missing species. That lasts all of two seconds before the evil Dr. Nefarious shows up, does a steal and uses the device to separate Ratchet and Clank and install himself as the emperor of another dimension.
It’s up to our heroes – as well as new, somewhat-grittier Lombax pal Rivet, who’s playable but not especially different from Ratchet – to deal with Nefarious, get the Dimensionator back and save everything yet again.
As expected for this series, Ratchet and Rivet will solve their problems through diplomacy and nuanced discussion. By that I mean, of course, that they’ve got a vast array of enormously destructive weapons that they’ll turn on the bad guys. You’ve got your giant laser, your gatling gun, your boomstick, your richocheting buzzsaw launcher, your, uh, taunting mushrooms…there’s something for everyone here.
What’s more, all of these are upgradable with each weapon having its own skill tree, encouraging you to scour the levels in search of the Raritanium you’ll need to make your shootybangs even shootier and bangier. There’s armor to find and equip, Gold Bolts to scoop up and, of course, plenty of cash to stuff into your pockets and deposit directly into the nearest vendor for new guns.
You’ll want to do plenty of exploration anyway, of course, as the game’s environments, characters and presentation are given plenty of love and detail. You can then smash all that love and detail to bits in search of bolts. Since you’re going to be hungry for currency and combat, it’s good that there’s numerous sidequests hidden throughout each area to check out as well. These largely amount to a secondary branch of the level that you wouldn’t explore normally, but they’re worth doing all the same if only because the core gameplay loop is so solid that you’ll want more.
There’s the odd minigame and gimmick level to check out as well. You’ll control a hacking robot in brain-twisting cybernetic areas, for instance, and sometimes you’ll solve puzzles with Clank or ride around on creatures. These are a nice touch but I generally found them to distract from the run-and-gun gameplay that forms the core of the experience. Look, I just upgraded these guns and all I really want is another horde of goons to unload them into. Puzzles? The only puzzle I care to solve is “why is that guy over there not dead yet?”
Presentation-wise, well…this is a headlining game for a new console. It looks great and runs smoothly without a hint of slowdown. There’s haptic controls, and I don’t know how many times I’ll write that these are the real next-gen game-changer but that remains the case here. Load times are practically nonexistent thanks to the PS5’s speedy SSD, so you’re fine to leap off edges to your doom and fail to defeat your foes because it’s only going to take a few seconds to get rolling again.
Ratchet and Clank games have always done a great job of showcasing the best of its hardware at the time, even back when the first game released back on the PlayStation 2, and that excellence continues to be the case here.
Ratchet and Clank continues to be one of the great franchises of gaming and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart keeps that legacy alive and well. It’s got just the right mixture of platforming, exploration, combat and customization to really showcase how to distill fun into a concentrated sludge that you can then inject into your eyeballs. Add a cute if straightforward plot, plenty of appealing DreamWorks-style characters and some impressive areas to tear apart and you’ve got a winner on your hands. If you’ve managed to grab a PlayStation 5 by now, it’s a must-play.