This is a spoiler free review.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the game which excited me the most during the PlayStation 5 unveiling in 2020, and so going in I had very high expectations for the gameplay and graphical presentation. I am pleased to report that the game delivers excellently on both of these, and clocking in at around 13 hours for my first playthrough, has the most substantial length of any Ratchet and Clank game of the past decade.
The first thing I have to draw attention to is how stunning every frame of the game looks. I chose to run the game at 30fps with ray tracing on, and I never stopped noticing how detailed and shiny everything looks whether in a cut-scene or not. When it comes to showing off the sheer potential of graphical power the PS5 is capable of you need look no further than this game. The load times are nigh on instant as well, and the seamless transition between dimensions shown off in the trailer works exactly as promised.
The first Ratchet and Clank game in five years, the return of this iconic PlayStation duo is long over due, and Rift Apart takes all the comedy, action and environment design of previous games in the franchise and continues to build on them in a way guaranteed to please returning players while also enticing new ones. The vast arsenal of weapons unlocked as you progress through the adventure is nothing shy of impressive, with a healthy mix of new and returning favourites making an appearance here. Long time players will be happy to see the return of the Zurkon family, albeit not in the manner you might expect..
The combat is a genuine spectacle which never gets old, with sparkling particle effects bursting across the battlefield and the sound of gunfire and explosions ringing out as you empty your vast ammo stock into every enemy in your vicinity. The DualSense controllers enhanced rumble and adaptive triggers, as well as the subtle sound effects emitted from the speaker, improve immersion to such a substantial degree that I kept finding myself leaning forward on my sofa, enraptured by the carnage I was conducting on screen. The new dash mechanic is also a welcome addition to the series, and works well as an extra option for gaining distance from enemies or sidestepping incoming attacks, alongside the usual method of jumping and somersaulting all over the place.
The planets you visit are substantial enough that you can spend a good chunk of time exploring them hunting for collectables, secrets and more enemies to fight. I won’t spoil how many planets there are in the game, but rest assured that the ones you visit are rich in detail and a lot of fun to battle through. Don’t expect to have as many planets as the original PS2 and PS3 Ratchet and Clank games as the developers have clearly gone for quality over quantity here; a decision which I believe is for the best even if my greedy gamer brain would have liked a couple more planets than we get here.
It isn’t a perfect game unfortunately, and one thing I don’t think Rift Apart has implemented particularly well are the new puzzles. To put in bluntly: they’re boring and add nothing to the overall experience. This is a shame as I’ve always enjoyed the optional puzzle segments in previous Ratchet and Clank games, mainly because they were for the most part, optional, and would typically only guard secret areas and collectables. That’s not the case here, and instead they are used to slam the brakes on the pacing so you can manoeuvre a spider-droid around for a bit or help an infinite number of Clanks complete platforming sections. Neither require much thought and certainly aren’t fun, and even though there is an option to skip them it does little to make them any less of a vexing mechanic.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is testament to the power of the PlayStation 5 as a console, and is an absolute joy to play if a little let down by irritating puzzles. A solid shooter and platformer with high replayability value and excellent writing and environment design, Rift Apart is a must play for PS5 owners and I score it