Taking a quick peek into Insomniac Games' newly released title, a magnificent animation guiding us through exploring new worlds and defeating scheming villains.
For the die-hard Ratchet and Clank fans, the ending of the 2013 Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus title left a panoply of questions. What is happening with the Dimensionator? Where are the galactic duo headed next? Is Ratchet closer to finding his estranged Lombax community? Where is Dr Nefarious hiding? The people down at Insomniac Games have heard your questions and have decided to devise a tantalising answer in the form of a gorgeous multidimensional sojourn: Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
What can we expect from Rift Apart?
As a sequel rightly should, Rift Apart maintains the classic elements of much of the Ratchet and Clank series; travelling in the Star Explorer through space to a multitude of intergalactic locations from narrower passages to expansive maps, combatting supervillains with astronomical machinations and having a great time whilst doing so. The player is promptly launched into a succession of captivating environments that almost feels like a new game from scene to scene; sliding down the canopy of glass cities, catching an Uber avatar-style on the back of Pterodactyl like creatures as well as visiting fragmented planetary remains of what was once a thriving civilisation. Paying special attention to portal transportation, known as rifts, we are able to pass through and interact with rifts that transfer us either 100m metres forward or many lightyears to completely different worlds. We even encounter time-altering purple crystals that take us not to a different world but to a separate point in time, but whilst rifts themselves are operative in the interstellar sense, Rift Apart connects many of the dots from previous Ratchet and Clank chapters relating to Ratchet’s endless search for the mystical Dimensionator. Whilst plunged in the depths of Rift Apart it is easy to overlook the seamless transitions (even whilst moving!) from world to world, from time to time, yet to convert these vivid brain-creations into the visual gaming experience takes incredible SSD and processing technology, not to mention an even greater development team: Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart evinces the very best of the next-generations proficiencies.
'Paying special attention to portal transportation, known as rifts, we are able to pass through and interact with rifts that transfer us either 100m metres forward or many lightyears to completely different worlds.'
How do the graphics look and feel?
Resembling an interactive edition of a comical cosmic movie like Guardians of the Galaxy (which also has a game coming out), Rift Apart takes us on an emotional adventure that feels at many points (especially during the cutscenes) as though we are viewing a multi-million dollar Pixar animation, only with more guns and explosions: a glorious gaming publication from Insomniac Games. We command the third-person perspective of the gameplay itself in a similarly cinematic manner through intense battles, impressive portals and silky parkour-like sequences, it is truly as though we were controlling the action content of a movie merely through tapping buttons with our fingers. We can all appreciate a good soundtrack when we hear one yet we seldom ascribe the euphoria of a gaming experience to the sound of the journey unless we are playing a Halo title perhaps, but with Insomniac collaborating with composer Mark Mothersbaugh, the creator of the Thor: Ragnarok movie soundtrack, each and every second of Rift Apart can feel like a trip down to the flicks. To hammer this point home, I and many others preferred the visuals given to us by Rift Apart over the 2016 Ratchet and Clank movie. Here we are in 2021, where games can outclass movies!
How does Rift Apart on the Next-Gen console play?
It is often the plot of a game that contains ingenious nuances instead of the very fabric of the game itself: the graphics. In this way, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is Insomniacs gift to us – a game that includes subtleties worth appreciating in both areas. The majority of players might not take the time to notice the finer attributes of a game, yet Rift Apart enjoys the minutiae as much as the larger elements. Much like a marathon runner completing 30 miles instead of the allotted 26, Insomniac have quite literally gone the extra mile in their creation of Rift Apart. Whilst boasting practically non-existent load times both to start the game and whilst preparing inter-dimensional worlds, Rift Apart also possesses absurdly immaculate ray-tracing technology...and I don't use the word absurd sparingly. As is the case in almost all projects, you can ray-trace effectively or you can do a pretty shoddy job of it; the sheer brilliance of the myriad ray-traced locations Rift Apart harbours is perhaps, at least in my own opinion, one of the most successful uses of such tech. Rift Apart is engraved in the closely matched technology that Insomniac exhibited in the renowned title Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales with the famed Strand rendering techniques being put to good use in the makeup of the Lombax fur. With Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart being a PlayStation 5 exclusive release too, the power of Sony’s next-generation console is elucidated (if it wasn't already) when playing Rift Apart, a game taking full advantage of its hosting mechanics.
'The majority of players might not take the time to notice the finer attributes of a game, yet Rift Apart enjoys the minutiae as much as the larger elements.'
What does gameplay involve?
In typical Ratchet and Clank fashion, we become pals with, and are even able to play as, further characters and protagonists, but this time around we encounter a rarity: a Lombax – and she is fascinating – hence her name: Rivet. We are able to grow quite fond of this bipedal feline duo, Ratchet and Rivet, through a union of insane graphics and expert character writing. Our affection often comes with reverence, especially when privy to satisfying combat loops and fine-tuned movement mechanics. We can dodge, we can wall-run, we can jump, and we can trigger stretch-and-squash visuals through dashing and darting about, avoiding taking damage. Employing exquisitely designed weapons, like the Enforcer, Negatron Collider and the Void Repulser against a plethora of enemies we can diversify our Ratchet and Clank combat experience, especially so through the inclusion of the novel Haptic Feedback features of the Sony DualSense controller. Conflict has always been an integral facet of the Ratchet and Clank series and Rift Apart might be the most assorted title of the series in this manner, showing no reticence to guns and destruction. Throughout the main storyline, the player is able to upgrade their respective weapons, even explosive projectiles, up to a fifth level, though this number is doubled to ten during the post-credits Challenge Mode, entailing a replay through the games narrative whilst preserving collectible items, weapons and armour.
'We are able to grow quite fond of this bipedal feline duo, Ratchet and Rivet, through a union of insane graphics and expert character writing.'
Collectables and Progression
Though Mrs Zurkon might bring back bad memories for dedicated fans of the Ratchet and Clank series, she returns in good faith to Rift Apart as a merchant, silently championing (and supplying) our cause. Redolent of old-school Lego Star Wars style, we are still able to collect hard-earned bolts and exchange them for supplies from our nostalgic foe-turned-friend Mrs Zurkon. The collection of bolts and upgraded weapons might be laborious initially, but the strategic search for Gold Bolts and Raritanium can activate upgrades and in-game cheats (which do not alter XP or achievements, or the story) allowing for the efficient hoarding of bolts as well as weapon upgrades, like Gold plating. As aforementioned, the Challenge Mode encourages us to accumulate bolt-sweeping multipliers thus empowering us to renovate our newly attained Omega (Level 6) weapons up to the tenth level, making for some pretty gritty and dynamic fighting scenarios.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a perfect cocktail between next-gen technology, Oscar-quality writing and high-octane combat, making for a game that can satisfy the vestigial adoration for comics and animations left for many from their formative years, all that whilst ticking all the boxes the modern gamer expects to achieve. That is no easy feat, and Insomniac have really developed a masterclass in Rift Apart. I went into the game unsure of if I would enjoy a title from this genre as I usually opt for open-world games with naturalistic graphics, like Red Dead Redemption, but within an hour I was totally hooked, unable to turn the console off to continue writing this article! The game has only been out a few weeks but has already turned heads across the globe, gamers and reviewers alike, and many have only positive words to tell you.
If you enjoyed what you read today, you can treat yourself to the new Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart game on PlayStation 5 by clicking here.
Written by Joel Gunner
Photos: Sony PlayStation Website