PlayStation 49.00
Overall 9.00
It’s been quite a long time since the last full fledged original Ratchet and Clank game, A Crack in Time, was released. The 2016 remake was a nice reminder of how much fun Ratchet games can be but ultimately was formulaic and lacking in any originality, it felt like a simple remake. Rift Apart is that true sequel that propels Ratchet into next gen with the best graphics I have ever seen and some good control enhancements to provide the smoothest playing Ratchet experience.

Jumping into Rift Apart felt like reuniting with an old friend, in no time I was side flipping around while unleashing an onslaught of gun blasts at enemies. New to the series is a phase shift dodge move which grants the player some invincibility frames as they dash out of the way of an incoming attack. It has a quick refresh so it can be used often, this provides much needed defensive moves. One of the key features of Rift Apart is the opening of rifts allowing instant travel to different locations. In battles rifts appear in strategic points that ratchet can, with the press of a button, warp to that location. This in combination with the dodge expands the combat into being slightly more strategic and engaging.

I always had a blast battling waves and waves of enemies using the always fun diverse set of weapons. The meta game of leveling up all weapons by using them is one I love to engage in because it forces me to constantly change what weapons I use and how I battle enemies. Sure I could just stick to the few that are most useful but I find that boring, variety is the spice of life so I always make it a point to level all of them up. That said the weight of two decades of the same formula is really starting to be noticeable. Yes this game plays better than any in the series, the fights are faster paced and more fluid but the strategy is mostly the same; simply unload chaos on enemies while moving side to side. I feel the series should look to make enemies weak to specific weapons, create moments where needing a certain attack is beneficial and make the battles more about strategy on who to attack or not based on those weaknesses. It’s what the best shooters do and it’s an area the series can easily improve on.

The reason Ratchet and Clank has been so consistently great is the diversity in activities, mainly the great mix of puzzles and mini games. I feel the series puzzles reached their apex with A Crack In Time, the new Clank puzzles in this game are good but not to the level of ACIT. Here Clank must guide versions of himself through obstacles by using orbs that manipulate different elements like time, weight, and speed. I enjoyed these moments and wish they went deeper as it was never too complicated.

There is an extremely charming mini game involving a miniature spider drone named glitch who has her own personality and even boss battles in a shooting mini game. Again it never gets too deep but it’s a fun diversion and the writing and voice acting help make what could have been a throw away mini game have a memorable personality.

To round it out there is riding of various creatures, the series staple coliseum , hover boot obstacle courses, and small mini secret areas called pocket dimensions. Those pocket dimensions I felt could have been fleshed out so much more to provide some cool optional platforming challenges but instead they are rather simple and short platforming challenges, wasted potential but a better effort than many games where hidden items are just sitting around to grab.

It’s the ebb and flow of combat, exploring, and side activities that keep this these games and especially this one from ever being boring. The main quest in particular is expertly crafted in Rift Apart with each planet having a certain unique theme to it. Each location has an important place in the story and most lead to spectacular setpieces that show off the power of the PS5. One planet has you flying through the air searching for animal fruits while another grinding a massive rail way while a huge robot chases you. Levels make use of the shifting dimensions by having certain stones you hit which change the level instantaneously into a different version of the world, switching between the two is necessary to proceed. This mechanic has been done in other games and I am not saying this is used here in a Zelda puzzle like way, it’s more of a required step to proceed, but I found the use of the shifting as a clever to make some great gameplay segments. The standout being a planet called Blizar Prime which is totally destroyed in one dimension and a bustling mining operation in the other, the switching between the two brings about such a stark contrast and a visual feast for the eyes. Another great level has you deep in an underwater lab where… well no more spoiling, let’s just say it’s another interesting and unique gameplay activity than the last.

Rift Apart keeps the intensity and ever changing scenarios going for the 15 hour run time. I was never bored, always engaged partly because of the extremely well done story which is the series best. The graphics and level of animation has absolutely reached movie quality, all that is needed is proper voice acting and writing and while this isn’t going to be award winning it for sure made me laugh, feel sad, feel excited; basically it made me FEEL and that’s important. It’s a well told story with excellent heroes and villains, Rivet is an absolute star and will get her own game in the future.

On the technical side what is there to say, it’s the best looking game ever. I guess I can get into the different graphical modes, mainly the choice of 60fps or higher resolution and more detail at 30fps. I am a frame rate guy so I played my first run at 60fps for that perfectly smooth gameplay but I did try 30fps on a second go and there is a visual difference. The 4k image with more screen details make it look beyond stunning and you can get used to 30. There is no wrong answer here, options are great and you have three quality ways to play it. The music is also a standout with a former Devo member composing the excellent soundtrack. I will have to note that unusually for insomniac, this game can be buggy, it did crash on me twice but with the speed of the SSD I was literally back in the game in about 10 seconds after a restart. Others had more problems so it’s something that should be mentioned, again I think it’s mostly rare but clearly the game doesn’t run perfectly.

Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart is another excellent entry into one of Playstation’s most consistently great franchises. While I do feel some deeper mechanics are due to be added this game is still is a joy to play. The main quest I feel is the strongest in the series and the side content while not as good as past games is still better then most. I feel this is the exclusive that shows off what the PS5 is capable of the most, a showcase for the eyes, the controller and how seemless the adventure can be with essentially no loading. Rift Apart continues to the strong tradition of being one of the best action platformer series in gaming.
Posted by Dvader Fri, 25 Jun 2021 21:19:19
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