'Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart' is Familiar, Impressive Fun

Mixing old, new, and next-gen tech; the best reason yet to own a PlayStation 5

Key Takeaways

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the latest entry in the nearly 20-year-old action-platforming series.
  • It comes from Insomniac Games, the studio behind Marvel's Spider-Man and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • The PlayStation 5-exclusive blends the series' best elements with plenty of new tricks while leveraging the console's considerable power.
Cover art from "Rachet and Clank: Rift Apart"

Insomniac Games

PlayStation 5-exclusive Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is both an exceptional game and a phenomenal showcase of what the next-gen console is capable of.

Thanks to Marvel's Spider-Man and its recent Miles Morales-swinging follow-up, Insomniac Games has become known as the studio behind the wall-crawler's absolute best video game adaptations. But long before it had players saving the day as Spidey, it had them saving the galaxy as Ratchet & Clank.

Fans of the action-platforming franchise, which dates back to 2002, will be happy to hear the Lombax and his robo-buddy are up to their old tricks in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. In fact, longtime followers of the pair's over-the-top adventures will immediately feel comfortable in their PS5 debut.

All the series' staples are accounted for, from the outrageous weaponry and acrobatic exploration to the charming characters and polished production values. Of course, as the newest showcase of the PlayStation 5's next-gen power, their latest romp isn't about to rest on the series' laurels.

Its transitions from cinematic cutscenes to actual gameplay are unparalleled to the point where you can't tell where the former ends and the latter begins.

Familiar Fun

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart introduces a ton of new elements, but seamlessly works them into the reliable template that's sustained the franchise for nearly 20 years. So while, say, turning enemies into pretty scenery with the new Topiary Sprinkler gun offers a fresh way to keep baddies at bay, using the clever weapon also feels as tight, fun, and responsive as swinging the wrench Ratchet's been wielding for almost two decades.

Imaginative new traversal options similarly benefit from being built on this solid foundation. Hop aboard a Speedle—a speedy beetle, obviously—for example, and you'll feel the same smile-inducing rush you first experienced when grinding rails in earlier entries.

It's not just gameplay that reaps the rewards of the franchise's proven formula. Never-before-seen characters, environments, and story elements pack the charm and humor that's always defined the series' appealing personality.

Screenshot from 'Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.'

Insomniac Games

Playing With Power

Rift Apart would be a rock-solid sequel on the previous generation PlayStation, but Insomniac has gone above and beyond to leverage the PS5's considerable power. 2016's Ratchet & Clank remake was regularly praised as a "playable Pixar film," but Rift Apart's stunning presentation somehow clears that high bar.

Its transitions from cinematic cutscenes to actual gameplay is unparalleled to the point where you can't tell where the former ends and the latter begins. This immersion-fueling fluidity carries over to those titular rifts, as well.

Much of the gameplay revolves around dimension-hopping, a new mechanic that's as cool to pull off as it is technically impressive. Ratchet can essentially jump from one world to a completely different dimension, sporting vastly different visuals, without a performance hiccup.

The game's implementation of the console's DualSense controller is equally impressive. Ambient sounds and unique vibrations—supporting everything from subtle footsteps to screen-swallowing boss battles—make a strong case for the tech's existence. It's the adaptive trigger tensions, however, that should quiet those who've dismissed it as a gimmick.

Pull the trigger halfway, and you'll feel some resistance as Ratchet carefully chooses the path of his grenade-like Shatterbombs; give it a good squeeze, though, and the Lombax will let the explosive fly from the hip. The electricity-spewing Enforcer offers similarly satisfying tactile feedback. With the trigger depressed 50%, the weapon fires a single shot, while a full pull unloads both barrels.

Screenshot from 'Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart."

Insomniac Games

Rift Apart is a fantastic new entry in the fan-favorite franchise, as well as an incredible showcase of what Sony's new console can do in the right hands. What's more impressive, though, is how it organically marries the gameplay, presentation, and tech.

While the PS5 has clearly helped take the series to the next level, the technology never feels shoehorned in or superfluous. Everything from the dimension-swapping to the DualSense's functionality feels like it's in support of the gameplay and story, elements that have been refined over a dozen or so games.

Whether you've been battling Dr. Nefarious for 15 years or you're just learning what a Lombax is, Rift Apart is a thrilling ride for players of all stripes. Its story's certainly packed with enough call-outs and Easter eggs to please the most passionate fans, but it also works wonderfully as a standalone experience for newcomers looking to justify their PS5 purchase.

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