The Ratchet and Clank series has been out of the limelight for a while. Though we got the movie tie-in remake in 2016 and have had smaller and experimental titles like All 4 One and Into the Nexus in the last few years, the last full-fledged new game in the franchise, A Crack in Time, came out well over a decade ago. Fans of the series have been starved for a proper new entry for a long time, but with Rift Apart, the beloved duo finally makes its long overdue return. And appropriately enough for such a long-awaited comeback, Rift Apart is a gorgeous, bombastic, ridiculously enjoyable game that succeeds in every way that a Ratchet and Clank game should, and then some.
Rift Apart puts the Lombax and his trusty robot pal in the midst of another galactic journey, this time with a dimension-hopping twist. After Dr. Nefarious crashes a parade on Megalopolis being thrown in Ratchet and Clank’s honour and rips the fabric of space-time apart with the Dimensionator, things quickly begin going wrong. Ratchet and Clank are separated, and both thrown into a dimension where its own version of Nefarious is not the bumbling idiot we all know him as, but a despotic emperor who rules the galaxy with an iron fist, even in the face of resistance from a handful of people- one of whom is a female Lombax named Rivet, Ratchet’s dimensional counterpart.
"Rift Apart is a gorgeous, bombastic, ridiculously enjoyable game that succeeds in every way that a Ratchet and Clank game should, and then some."
Rift Apart tells an excellent story. It’s light-hearted and cheerful in the way you’d expect from a Ratchet game, and constantly hits the mark with charming characters, witty writing, gleeful silliness, and childlike humour. It’s not the most unpredictable story you’ll ever see, but it speaks a universal language of friendship, love, and never giving up. All of those strengths shine through on a constant basis. Meanwhile, a healthy stream of easter eggs, callbacks, and whacky new alternate dimension takes on familiar worlds or known characters (some of whom are more prominent and significant than others… but I’ll leave it at that) makes for a story that’s even more rewarding for those who’ve been following the series for some time. All in all, it’s pretty… riveting.
Really, this is Rivet’s game. That’s not to say Ratchet has been sidelined- half this game still belongs to him, and he’s got a great arc in Rift Apart. But Rivet is absolutely the highlight here, the star of the show. She’s spunky, funny, witty, and delightful in equal measure, and seeing her interactions with other characters – especially with Clank – throughout the story is an absolute joy. She’s also got a great look, thanks to her unique and stylized character design, and is voiced excellently by the supremely talented Jennifer Hale, which means that all in all, she steals the show every time she’s on the screen- and when she isn’t, you can’t wait to get back to her parts of the game.
Rivet and Ratchet’s unique personalities play off of each other very well, so it’s a little disappointing that in terms of gameplay, they’re more or less identical. Progression, weapons, upgrades, gadgets, collectibles, movesets, and more are all common across Ratchet and Rivet, which means that as far as gameplay is concerned, there’s next to nothing to separate the two. Switching between the two characters is done purely for narrative purposes. Those narrative branches and differences are executed very well, but I do wish that both characters had moves or gadgets or weapons that were exclusive to them in order to set them apart from each other.
"This is Rivet’s game. That’s not to say Ratchet has been sidelined- half this game still belongs to him, and he’s got a great arc in Rift Apart. But Rivet is absolutely the highlight here, the star of the show."
That said, playing as both Ratchet and Rivet is still an absolute blast, which should be unsurprising to anyone who’s played a Ratchet and Clank game before. The selection of weapons is the heart and soul of any Ratchet game, and Rift Apart knocks the ball out of park in this area as well. There’s nearly twenty weapons to unlock and use throughout the game, and this might just be the most varied and interesting arsenal of weapons ever in a Ratchet and Clank entry.
There’s no shortage of bizarre, hilarious weapons. The Topiary Sprinkler turns enemies into plants, Mr. Fungi shoots out mushroom sentries that attack foes and can even draw aggro, the Ricochet fires bullets that bounce around with repeated presses of the trigger. Even weapons that are relatively normal on paper feel great to use, including the frag grenade equivalent Shatterbomb, the stock handgun called the Burst Pistol, or the shotgun known as the Enforcer. Meanwhile, old favourites such as the bouncy sawblade firing Buzz Blades, the rocket launcher Warmonger, and the kamikaze android dispensing Glove of Doom also return.
Each weapon is useful in its own way, and almost the entire arsenal is fun to use in combat, down to the last one (though some are more enjoyable than others, of course). What makes using these weapons even better is the constantly inventive and excellent ways in which they make use of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers. The Void Repulser fires off a shield that hovers in front of you as long as you hold the trigger halfway down, then disperses a short-range energy blast when you pull it all the way through. The Headhunter is a sniper rifle that lets you aim through the scope by pulling the left trigger partway, but when you pull it fully, time slows down. With the Drillhound, you can either pull the trigger all the way to fire its explosive ground-traversing hounds blindly, or pull it halfway first to lock on to enemies for guaranteed hits. Application of the adaptive triggers is constantly excellent, and feels surprisingly easy to use even in heated combat encounters.
"The selection of weapons is the heart and soul of any Ratchet game, and Rift Apart knocks the ball out of park in this area as well. There’s nearly twenty weapons to unlock and use throughout the game, and this might just be the most varied and interesting arsenal of weapons ever in a Ratchet and Clank entry."
And encounters do get heated. In typical Ratchet and Clank fashion, Rift Apart can throw a huge number of enemies at you at any given time, who come at you in groups comprising of different types of foes that move differently and have unique attacks. Navigating spaces, constantly changing tactics on the fly, and making smart use of your full arsenal feels incredibly satisfying, and makes each thrilling combat encounter feel like a rush of adrenaline, and each victory like a rush of dopamine. It strikes the perfect balance between challenge and giddy explosive fun. There’s also more than a few boss fights in here, which are suitably high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled encounters that challenge you to make full use of your arsenal of weapons.
The weapons and the sheer variety they boast are also bolstered incredibly by excellent progression mechanics. Like previous games, the more you use a weapon in Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, the more it levels up- but there’s a lot more to it. Collecting Raritarium is key, of course, so you can use it to increase damage, area of effect, range, fire rate, max ammo, and other properties corresponding to specific weapons. The more a weapon levels up, the more upgrade options you unlock for it. Meanwhile, upon reaching level 5, a weapon upgrades into a more powerful version of itself- the Burst Pistol becomes the Blast Pistol and can fire three shots at a time, the double-barreled Enforcer becomes the quadruple-barreled Executor, the Shatterbomb becomes the Shatterblast and fires bombs that have a chance of making enemies explode and damage others around them. The excellent progression mechanics inject oodles of longevity and variety into Rift Apart’s combat, which, for a game that already has an incredibly varied arsenal of weapons, deserves no small amount of praise.
Moving past the combat, Rift Apart leaves something to be desired on the platforming side of things, which is a little disappointing for a game that is technically a platformer. Sure, technically, Ratchet and Clank games have always been more action-platformers and shooters than anything else, but in Rift Apart’s particular case, the lack of focus on platforming does feel like a bit of a letdown. That’s because the moveset has been expanded here, but not utilized to its full potential. On top of your regular jumps, double jumps, and hovering, you always have wall-running, the Phantom Dash, a grapple hook, and hover boots, but the game doesn’t do as much with this expanded moveset as it could have. Certain parts of the game, like scripted set-piece sections or pocket dimensions, do put a greater focus on platformer, but by and large, the full potential of Ratchet and Rivet’s moveset isn’t realized very well.
"Navigating spaces, constantly changing tactics on the fly, and making smart use of your full arsenal feels incredibly satisfying, and makes each thrilling combat encounter feel like a rush of adrenaline, and each victory like a rush of dopamine. It strikes the perfect balance between challenge and giddy explosive fun."
Thankfully, even with that lack of platforming focus, there’s plenty of gameplay variety to be found in Rift Apart. Combat is incredibly varied as it is, as I’ve mentioned earlier, but the game also does a great job of introducing unique sections and scenarios throughout its runtime. From flight combat to rail grinding sections, from puzzle-oriented sections where you play as Clank to Glitch challenges, which see you playing as a spidery turret bot, from the aforementioned pocket dimensions to adrenaline-fueled set-piece moments, Rift Apart consistently ensures that things never get too monotonous. Certain planets are also designed as large, open, sandbox environments, and exploring these fully to hunt down collectibles, take on optional challenges, or complete side quests is also a blast.
Rift Apart also deserves credit for how replayable it is. The main campaign is roughly fifteen hours long (though it can go up to around twenty if you take the completionist route), but there’s more than enough here to encourage you to play far beyond that, thanks to a bevy of collectibles to hunt down, unlocking and fully upgrading all the weapons, completing challenges in the arena, the post-game Challenge Mode (which is essentially New Game Plus), and more.
And of course, something else that deserves widespread plaudits is just how ridiculously good this game looks. Vibrant colours, excellent character and enemy designs, and beautiful and varied environments show off the unparalleled talent of Insomniac’s artists on a consistent basis. An abundance of tiny little details, incredible animations, and hilarious and charming flourishes further highlight the game’s visual personality, which is something that it is already overflowing with. Meanwhile, Rift Apart also leverages the PS5’s hardware to deliver a proper technical masterpiece. All said and done, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this might just be one of the best-looking console games ever made. The dimension switching mechanic may have been made to sound like a bigger in pre-release marketing deal than it is – it’s mostly restricted to scripted set-pieces, pocket dimensions, and a couple of worlds where it has a larger and more dynamic role to play – but all in all, Rift Apart is a great showcase of the PS5’s capabilities.
" It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this might just be one of the best-looking console games ever made."
It’s been a long time coming, but Insomniac’s beloved series is finally back, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about the nature of its return. Rift Apart is an incredible game that captures everything that makes Ratchet and Clank so great, and then polishes those strengths to an absolute sheen. With an incredible arsenal of weapons, thrilling combat, a charming story full of loveable characters, and visuals to make your eyes pop, this might just be the best game in the series to date. Regardless of whether you’re a long-time series fan or diving in for the first time, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is going to be right up your arsenal.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Charming, heart-warming story; Excellent characters; Rivet steals the show; A vast and varied selection of weapons; Engaging progression mechanics; Thrilling combat; Lots of variety in gameplay; Tons of replay value; Looks ridiculously gorgeous; Consistently excellent and inventive implementation of the DualSense's adaptive triggers.
Nothing to differentiate between Ratchet and Rivet from a gameplay standpoint; Expanded moveset is let down by a lack of focus on platforming.