Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review

06/08/2021 - 10:00 | By: Chris Penwell
Developer
Insomniac Games
Release Date
June 11, 2021
Platforms
PlayStation 5
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
PlayStation
A Return to Form and Must Buy

Mix in deadly weapons, a hearty dose of nostalgia, and a charming world, and you have Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. This game fills you with the same sense of wonder and charm that the original PS2 games had, while also revolutionizing the series for the current generation. Many classic franchises, like Kingdom Hearts and Shenmue, have failed to live up to their fans’ expectations, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a masterclass on how to stay true to the franchise while innovating at the same time.

On this quest, Ratchet picks up his wrench once again to defeat Emperor Nefarious and stop the universe from breaking apart. As a follow-up to the events of Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, Ratchet’s best friend Clank hopes to use a device called the dimensionator so the lombax can reunite with his own kind. After a series of unfortunate events, rifts from parallel universes begin to open, creating chaos for their home planet. The duo then gets split up, as Clank is picked up by Ratchet’s female counterpart Rivet. 

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart Rivet PS5

A New Standout Hero

If we had to describe Rift Apart’s story in three words, it would be “charming but predictable.” It follows the same tropes you’d find in an animated movie, and it once again separates Ratchet and Clank. You can follow the story beat by beat, but within the script stands the true main protagonist Rivet. She is upbeat, smart, and at the same time, has some inner deep struggles that she has to contend with. Her hatred of robots is something that Clank and Rivet deal with, and it’s done in a natural and sweet way as she learns to accept others and begins to open up. 

 
 

Its narrative surrounding friendship and getting through your fears is something that a lot of people can relate to and would certainly help younger gamers deal with the lonely repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rivet’s magnificent journey helps give a wonderful moral to players.

Therefore, Rivet is the standout hero of Rift Apart, and we hope she returns in some shape or form; we’d be delighted if she has her own game in the future. 

Ratchet is also a positive role model and endearing protagonist. In this entry, however, it truly feels that the legendary duo are passing the torch as they’ve been out of the game for five or so years canonically, and Rivet was the crutch of the narrative. 

Ever since the PS3 era, the Ratchet & Clank series has gone more PG to the dismay of some fans of the PS2 games. You might be delighted to know then that some of the risque humor is back. It’s not present for the majority of the game, but it pops up every once in a while with a few innuendos and bleeped-out cuss words. There were some chuckles, here and there, but it doesn’t match up to the hilarious banter of Juanita and Dallas from Ratchet Deadlocked or Nefarious’ ravings with Lawrence. There were no laugh out loud moments from Dr. Nefarious in Rift Apart, and the slapstick comedy wasn’t present at all, and that’s honestly very disappointing. Lawrence’s absence was felt as the duo had excellent chemistry and comedic potential.

Regardless of the script, the voice actors did an outstanding job with what they were given. This felt like one of the most emotional games of the series, and James Arnold Taylor (Final Fantasy X, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Ratchet and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Ralph Breaks the Internet) as Rivet gave wonderful performances as lombaxes dealing with their past and precariously looking to the future. It’s just too bad that the dialogue cuts out when you die, and the game doesn’t repeat it. 

Large Open Areas to Explore

Additionally, Insomniac looked to the future in terms of Rift Apart’s game design. Like many of PlayStation’s first-party lineup, the developer opted to go for a more open-world set up. There are linear segments, but after the initial storyline, Insomniac lets its players free into worlds of wonder. There are plenty of collectibles to find in the game with brief story elements sprinkled in to heighten the game’s worldbuilding. For example, in the world Savali, you are collecting objects called lorbs that tell you the history of the lombaxes. While you’re looking for them, you can overhear guards talking about recent events and the world itself. It draws you in, and it truly feels like you’re playing an animated show in real-time. 

 

Hoverboots Rivet Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart PS5

While exploring the world, there are puzzles that are hiding your desired collectibles. They are all satisfying to find, and some will twist your expectations. Keep in mind, while you’re early in the game, that you won’t be able to find all the gold bolts and other collectibles right away; you may need a certain ability or change in the environment in order to access it. 

The game does sometimes give the player too much freedom at points, on the other hand. While dashing at high speeds and using the all-new dash mechanic, we found ourselves stuck in spots we weren’t supposed to be in. Invisible walls collapsed our immersion into these impressively rendered worlds, and in some cases, the game gave us inopportune checkpoints that had us stuck on a deserted island in the planet Sargasso. Some sections of each map also felt empty; a few crates in these spots would have gone a long way. 

What makes the grind even better is that you get rewards for your hard work. When you collect gold bolts, you gain PS1-era like changes to your visuals. We won’t spoil what they are, but some of them are amazing for Insomniac fans. You can upgrade your weapons with your raritanium too. 

 

You’ll also gain armor parts that will improve your stats like more resistance to attacks from certain enemies and a higher intake of experience or bolts. It works in a similar vein to Insomniac Games’ take on Spider-Man, which has suits that give you benefits. We hope this trend continues as having multiple gear options is always a plus. We’d love to see a Jak costume or skin like the classic Ratchet & Clank games as Insomniac will likely continue to support Rift Apart from here on in. 

Your Tools of Destruction are Fun to Use

This wouldn’t be a Ratchet & Clank game without its weapons, and Rift Apart succeeds with its arsenal of guns. The classics are back like the Warmonger, the Enforcer (Blitz Gun), and the Blast Pistol and they all feel just as good as before. In fact, it might even be better as you feel every blast from the intuitive haptic feedback sensors on the DualSense. It also uses haptic feedback, giving slight resistance on the triggers for heavier weapons. Feeling the pitter-patter of the blast pistol’s rapid firing feels amazing and brings you closer to the combat. One of the only downsides is the mediocre Mr. Fungi, a huge step down from the sassy and aggressive Mr. Zurkon. 

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart Warmonger PS5

The combat has been overhauled as it auto strafes instantly during battle scenarios and has a far superior over-the-top angle for precise aiming. The new dash ability and the way you can use tether nearby rifts to move across the environment also make combat feel more fluid. 

In addition, some new weapons make their mark in Rift Apart. The Negatron Collider gives Ratchet or Rivet a delightfully powerful laser that will demolish the competition as it grows more and more powerful with every enemy you take out in succession. Meanwhile, the topiary sprinkler turns foes into garden sculptures and makes them more susceptible to damage. There were a few stinkers that we barely used like the entertaining but weak ricochet (that strikes foes multiple times with one shot), but overall Insomniac Games once again showed its creativity with what’s available to the player. You could say they “Upped Their Arsenal.” 

We Need More Variety

Despite the impressive weapons on display, the enemies you are firing on lack diversity. You’ll be facing off the same enemies over and over and over again. In the original games, we were greeted to a new type of creature, but in Rift Apart, it truly felt lacking. We have the Goons-4-Less (a callback to Ratchet & Clank 3), the pirates, and Dr. Nefarious’ goons, as well as a limited number of indigenous creatures. They were pretty much bullet sponges with little variations to the gameplay. The best enemies challenge the player to think differently about how they approach the game, but Rift Apart fails in this concept. 

Furthermore, the enemy designs get even more egregious with the game's bosses. You’ll be facing off against the same enforcers over and over and over again. They unleash a barrage of missiles, a laser, and jump from place to place. It rinses and repeats, and it’s disappointing that a studio with so much creativity couldn’t think of a way to mix it up the bosses in the game. The only thing that is different is their names. 

While not going into spoilers, the larger boss fights felt lacking too. They hover around, send out their goons at random points, and dash towards you with a swiping attack. They may use a laser or a somewhat different gun to the enforcer bosses, but it just feels underwhelming. 

High Production Values

What distracts you from the somewhat repetitive gameplay is the bombastic set pieces that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has you experience. Going from planet to planet in a matter of seconds during a chase is absolutely incredible, and the chaos that the characters experience is truly a spectacle. It’s what you’d expect from a big game like Uncharted but multiplied by 11. Sony seemingly didn’t spare any expense with this title, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see that much confidence within a beloved 3D platformer. 

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart The Fixer PS5

Fans will be delighted to see how much effort has been put into Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’s visuals. No question, this is the most stunning game to date. Each world looks gorgeous with grand set pieces moving in the background and all the little details that you’d expect. You can see the gears moving in Rivet’s hammer, and the busy rush of traffic above you in the neon-infused Nefarious City. We just had our jaws dropped for minutes at a time as we gazed at the beautiful scenery around Ratchet, Rivet, and their friends. 

The Ratchet & Clank series is often compared to Pixar’s films, but Rift Apart takes the cake with its gorgeous art design and attention to detail. Every movement and facial animation looks superb and helps you connect to the characters and the action. While the ricochet is an underwhelming gun to use, the way that goons react to each shot is hilarious as they enact a Looney Tunes-like movement.

The lighting is also spectacular, and to all the graphics snobs who complained about Marvel’s Spider-Man not having puddles, you’ll be happy too as Rift Apart has them (and they have ray tracing). We would recommend the Fidelity option for those who have 4K screens, as it truly looks incredible with all the additional lighting options. You’ll lose some of that when you change the graphics setting to Performance. 

Usually, the music is what brings the cinematics and gameplay together, and unfortunately, the composer wasn’t the right fit for the project. Rift Apart's soundtrack is too generic for the tone that the game is going for and needs more personality injected into it. The music is fine, but it gives off more of a cinematic feel than a vibrant 3D platformer. The original Metropolis theme from David Bergeaud is still amazing to this day as it presented the excitement of the bustling city with some sense of drama. There was none of that in Rift Apart. It would be great to see that classic electronic/rock style return with new composers of the genre like James Landino or Funk Fiction of No Straight Roads fame to give the series a re-energized sound. 

To conclude, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a must-buy for PS5 owners and fans of the 3D platformer genre. Its story is endearing, the weapons are satisfying to use, the gorgeous worlds and detailed animations will make you feel like you’ve teleported to another dimension, and the combat is better than ever with the new dash and portal tether mechanics. It just lacked variety with its enemy design and the music was excessively bland. Hopefully, we’ll see both of these aspects improve in a future title.


TechRaptor reviewed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by the publisher.

Review Summary

9.0
A fantastic platforming adventure with high production values, we just wish it had a larger variety of enemies.

Pros

  • Jaw Dropping Graphics
  • A Heartwarming Story
  • A Great Arsenal of Weapons

Cons

  • Bland Music
  • Repetitive Enemy Design
  • Dull Bosses That are Uncharacteristic of the Series

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Chris Penwell TechRaptor
Staff Writer

The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative. You can check out his podcasts Active Quest every Tuesday and Go Beyond: A My Hero Academia Podcast on Wednesdays.