A Fun Multiversal Adventure
Ratchet and Clank is a great game and the first true PS5 exclusive that feels like a next-gen title. With no loading screens, crisp graphics and tight gameplay, this is a very impressive game. Unfortunately, it also comes at a pretty hefty price of £70. With around 10-15 hours of play-time and a linear story, Rift Apart is fantastic fun but also a game that’s likely to leave you conflicted about your purchase.
Having said that though, no minute of your playtime is wasted (beyond a few tedious side quests) with both the story and gameplay working in tandem. These naturally evolve over time, growing your arsenal of weapons while utilizing the same UI and ideas from 2016’s rebooted effort.
Rift Apart is a direct sequel to that game, with a story that’s bigger, badder – but not necessarily better – in every way. After saving the world from the evil Dr Nefarious last time, Ratchet enjoys a hero’s welcome back home. It’s here where a handy little tutorial gets you accustomed to the controls before being thrust into the crux of the drama.
Dr Nefarious is back and he’s stolen a powerful artifact known as the Dimensionator. Fed up with losing all the time, he’s dead-set on finding a dimension where he always wins. In doing so though, he ends up damaging the fabric of time and space itself. To make matters worse, Dr Nefarious opens a portal to a parallel world where Emperor Nefarious reigns supreme.
“Prepare for trouble, and make it double!”
As Dr and Emperor Nefarious team up to conquer the world, it’s up to Ratchet, Clank and a new female lombax by the name of Rivet to stop them and save the day.
The story itself works well, with the usual cinematic cutscenes gorgeously rendered and progressing the story nicely. These are all seamlessly woven into the game as well, with absolutely no loading titles and some really smooth transitions between these cinematics and the actual gameplay. This really does feel like a natural extension to what Naughty Dog have achieved recently and it’s great to see.
There are a few twists and turns along the way though, while the graphical fidelity and draw distance are absolutely jaw dropping at times.
Thanks to the power of the PS5, the field of view is massive too, allowing you to see across vast stretches of the landscape below. There are several moments dotted throughout the different worlds where these areas open up to really show this off and it never gets old.
Likewise, the tight moments inside winding alleyways or bustling city metropolis’ are packed with disposable objects, trinkets, hidden pathways and plenty of NPCs just going about their business. All of this combines to give the game a feeling of being a living, breathing area. On the same subject, the weather effects are great too, with Planet Cordelion in particular showing off impressive snow effects.
Combat Is Largely Unchanged
Of course, pretty graphics are all well and good but its the gameplay that’s the real meat and potatoes of this adventure. For those who have played 2016’s title, the controls here are largely the same. However, they do make good use of the adaptive triggers. You’ve got your L2 and R2 for aiming and shooting, holding triangle for changing weapons, X to jump, O to dash and square to melee.
The big change this time around though comes from the rifts and portals. In keeping with the theme of the game, Rift Apart features numerous environmental puzzles and platforming that make excellent use of portals. These can be hooked onto by punching L2, which in turn pulls the entire screen toward you in a beautifully animated move.
These portals come in two flavours, with purple ones leading to side-content and bonus areas where armour (more on that in a bit) happen to be waiting. The others are simple teleports to hard-to-reach locations, allowing you to move around the environment.
Enemies are pretty straight forward in truth, with most coming in two forms of charging you and attacking and the others hanging back and hitting you with a volley of bullets or a laser projection. There are also heavies too, although by the end of your adventure you’ll find yourself itching to face something a little different.
Utilizing the power of the PS5
Having said that, there are a few excellent moments of combat where the screen literally fills with enemies charging and shooting at you. These moments of insanity are real stand-out gems, especially given the game never slows, lags or stutters during these segments. The framerate is pretty stable across the board.
Such is the case with many of these Ratchet and Clank games, you’ll likely find yourself overpowered and blasting through these goons without much hassle. The boss fights however, can still give you a bit of trouble but largely stick to two or three basic attack patterns.
The game is certainly fun though, and there’s a consistent effort to make each planet visited unique and interesting. There’s no hoverboard racing this time around though, although the game does allow you to unlock hover boots at one point so there’s at least an effort to give some nods back to the racing.
Armour Is Largely Superfluous
Where Ratchet and Clank is less successful though is in its attempt to add RPG elements to the title. The grid-based weapon upgrades are still here and are functional enough, but this time there’s an extra component in the ability to attach armour. These offer slight perks to everything from extra
damage, to defence and even bolts gained. However, they’re not really necessary and feel more like busywork than they should.
The currency for said upgrades though come in two flavours, much like before, with Raritanium used to upgrade weapons while bolts are used to buy the weapons themselves. Unlike 2016’s title though, the trophies here are all very straight forward and don’t require you to level up each weapon individually. Unfortunately some of the trophies are glitched, including one ironically titled “Glitch, uh, finds a way.”
Given the asking price, there are a few pretty bad glitches in this game. To be fair, they have been ironed out since the most recent patch but could still cause you problems if you’re not careful.
Glitchy and Clank
My first time playing (pre-patch) I ended up with a game-breaking bug, forcing me to restart the whole planet again. Thankfully the cloud storage helped here otherwise it could have been a lot worse. Another time I ended up stuck in a rift loop, cutscenes have failed to load, while the usual geometric issues have resulted in me getting stuck on bits of the world.
Judging by some of the earlier reaction across social media channels, this seems to be pretty split across the board with some blasting through without any problems and others seeing a lot of these issues.
Technical issues aside, Rift Apart is well worth a play. It’s a wonderful game with polished gameplay, a decent enough story and an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic. While the combat grows a little stale on the final few worlds and those glitches and bugs are very annoying, there’s enough here to highly recommend. Just be sure to rent this one or wait until the price goes down a bit!
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Verdict - 8/10