Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Is The Return Fans Were Waiting For
Declared by many to be one of the most highly anticipated games of 2021, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was released in June by Insomniac Games, the developer and creator of the series since its beginnings in 2002. Just shy of its 20th anniversary, time flies when it comes to chronicling the adventures of the wise-cracking Lombax, Ratchet, and his companion robot Clank, especially when the first Ratchet & Clank doesn’t seem that long ago.
At least, for me, it didn’t at first, but then again in 2002 I was but a kid entering the 5th grade when the first game came out. I remember spending hours collecting as many bolts as I could in exchange for weapons that caused as much chaos and destruction as possible, specifically remember the iconic line “R.Y.N.O: Rip Ya a New One” from the shady arms dealer near the end of the game.
Spanning across just about every Sony platform available from the PSP exclusive Secret Agent Clank, giving the sidekick his time to shine, to the numerous spin-offs like the battle arena Deadlocked, and even a series reboot, the Ratchet series has covered as much ground as any establish mascot, solidifying the series’ place as Sony’s reigning mascot character (Well, for as long as Sly Cooper remains dormant…)
Interconnectivity Within Various Properties Are Abundant
While the series was initially known for traveling through space across various planets, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart touches upon the concepts of rifts and interdimensional travel that were introduced as early as 2007’s Tools of Destruction. It was the development of the said tool, which Clank dubs the “Dimensionator,” that would cause problems as recurring villain Doctor Nefarious lives up to his name, stealing the tool with the intent of creating a future where “he wins.”
After a scuffle between Ratchet and Nefarious, the Dimensionator breaks, breaking various rifts and distorting the timeline until Ratchet is taken to a different dimension altogether. It is here that he must search for a way to undo the damage caused while also searching for his friend, Clank.
Clank, in actuality, is picked up by a woman named Rivet, who is the same race that Ratchet is and is hunted in her city for reasons yet unknown. The introduction of Rivet led me to think nothing more than “female Ratchet,” upon first impressions and at the rate the story was headed, I’d be inclined to believe this will be the case. Ratchet and Rivet’s first interaction will be like mixing oil and water, I’m certain.
The Fidelity of Ratchet & Clank Shows The PS5 is a 'Rift Apart'
The graphics and sound are the game’s strongest point, taking full advantage of the PS5’s capabilities as this was a title made exclusively with the next-gen console in mind. Ratchet and the environment surrounding never looked cleaner as the 4K fidelity brings out details like the strains of his fur, the explosion effects of various weaponry, and even the details of the environment should players have a look if they aren’t busy lowering the property value.
The gameplay, after a very short “tutorial” to get reintroduced to the controls, immediately begins with Nefarious’ goons crashing Ratchet’s party, literally, and in response Ratchet goes guns blazing and wrench swinging. It is here that the game takes full use of the PS5’s haptic feedback, where even the pulse of the gun can be felt through smart vibrations tucked in the trigger buttons. The triggers also reflect upon other weapons that Ratchet can purchase, one of which is a grenade launcher that lobs at half-angle when half-pressed, and at a full angle when fully pressed. The same goes for the not-shotgun pulse rifle, firing one shell at half-press and double barrels at full-press.
There are many accessibility options within Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, ranging from a depth of field, motion blur sliders, auto-aim, and many other adjustments all of which are optional. These options ensure that players of all types can enjoy the game without much difficulty, speaking of which is also selectable ranging from difficult to “run this game in movie mode.”
Despite Its Positives, Ratchet's Rough Around Its Edges
While my overall experience with the first level was overall solid, things took a turn for the extreme when it came to the first boss, the opening fight with Doctor Nefarious himself. Nefarious fights in a mech that shoots laser beams, guided missiles, and summons grunts on occasion. It’s a straightforward fight that teaches you the basic combat mechanics in a one-on-one situation.
The problem is that dodging the lasers is very particular to where Ratchet is at the time, as many times I would “dodge” the lasers only for the game to register the dodge as too late or too early. When I timed my dodges, I would be punished by getting hit, but I found mashing the jump button at some point led to much better results, which defeated the purpose of precise jumping. That’s just a minor nitpick though. The real problem arose when I got the boss to exactly 45%.
I do not know even at the end of the recording what exactly happened to cause this, but after the second minion phase, Nefarious would not return to the platform. He would remain in orbit as if there were still monsters left to be destroyed. There weren’t, however, as I was jumping around like an idiot, zipping through rifts to try and trigger something, anything to get him to come back. I even expended all of my ammo, fruitlessly, but to no avail leaving me little choice but to jump off the platform and lose my life, starting the fight over again from the beginning.
Nothing's Perfect, But Ratchet Shows Promise
While this was a freak glitch as the second go-round the fight continued as normal, I was concerned what the other boss fights would be like if I had this happen to me from the very first boss only a half-hour in. Glitches in games are expectant, for most titles, it’s what makes speedrunning and glitch hunting go hand-in-hand.
Sometimes, finding new ways to break the game is what gives a game a new meaning. The game even has “speedrunning settings,” keeping the speedrunning community in mind by offering options to eliminate some visual effects to make running through the game as quick as possible.
The problem is that when glitches like these go unchecked, especially as the game is well over a month old now, it leaves the player feeling wary that there’s going to be some “bs” to be expected in the future. Aside from that, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart at first looks amazing, it feels amazing too. The gunplay is as tight as ever in the series, though melee is still “whack an enemy with a wrench until they keel over.” Players will need to be aware that glitches do exist and depending on the severity will need to be prepared to restart their progress from time.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is now available on the PS5.