Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart game review (2021)

Although annoyingly buggy in certain parts scattered throughout the game, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an absolute delight to play and experience. For the most part, it looks and runs beautifully on the PS5 and it’s a series best platformer in more ways than one.

Since getting the PS5 on launch day in November of 2020, I’ve played the three best exclusives the system has to offer so far, that being Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Returnal, and now, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (and two of these games are from Insomniac Games. which is impressive). All three games are phenomenal and they’re also uniquely different in terms of how they’re played. It just goes to show the vast potential this system has moving forward. But, let’s stay on topic with Rift Apart, which is already shaping up to be one of my favorite games of the year for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t come without its faults, of course, but I wouldn’t say these faults are based on game design or how it’s played, it’s just glitches some games are bound to have before they’re patched up. So, although my experience with the game has been mostly positive and I know, eventually, these bugs will be fixed soon enough, I have to admit that encountering some of these buggy situations have been a bit frustrating, especially when the game crashed or when I have to restart it all together. Let’s discuss the bad first before I get into all the goodness. Before that though, a quick synopsis.

After Dr. Nefarious steals the Dimensionator from Ratchet and Clank, he uses it in a quest to discover a dimension where he always comes out on top. While doing this, he damages the fabric of space and time, which causes Clank to get lost. Arriving in another dimension, he meets Rivet, who’s basically a dimensional counterpart to Ratchet, and together, they must reunite with Ratchet in order to stop Dr. Nefarious (or Emperor).

Addressing the bugs and glitches, the most common ones I’ve found were when the game goes into slow motion. Essentially, it’s supposed to do this only for a short period of time and act as a mini tutorial. However, because of the bugs, the game stays stuck in slow motion, forcing you to restart the application all together. This was extremely annoying, especially when you’re trying to complete certain quests and side missions. Other glitches include getting stuck in the environment, such as a random rock on a world as you’re jumping to reach a specific destination and the character simply gets stuck inside of it. You can’t move or progress and it’s incredibly tedious. Another glitch I’ve found is hitting a Blizon crystal and as the game is transitioning to a different dimension or area, it never fully transports you to it, so you stay stuck in a white backdrop and, again, moving in slow motion, without being able to do anything. There were some other bugs that I can’t really remember, but the three mentioned above were the most glaringly annoying ones, by far. Thankfully, this can all be fixed and it’s really one of the only major issues I have about the game, if I’m being honest.

Everything else is a joy to play. I consider myself a variety gamer, meaning I’ll play any game from any kind of genre. I don’t usually stick to a specific kind of game like some players do. For example, I have a lot of friends that only play first-person shooter games, while others enjoy RPG’s, multiplayer-only games, and so on. The way I see it, there are far too many great games coming from all kinds of genres to limit myself to one and miss out on a ton of memorable gaming journeys. One genre I do hold in high regard is platformers, and Ratchet & Clank ranks fairly high in that department. I haven’t played every single game in the series, but I adored 2015’s version, and I think Rift Apart surpasses it in almost every way.

For one, it’s simply stunning to look at. Specifically speaking, when playing it in PS5’s performance ray tracing mode, the game is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s one of the best looking games I’ve ever played and that’s saying quite a bit when I’ve played other visual spectacles, such as The Last of Us Part II, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and so on. It also says quite a bit about where the PS5 is headed in terms of quality. If it’s releasing a game that looks this good so early on in its life cycle, it can only go up from here. Despite the bugs I discussed earlier, the game runs wonderfully as well. The movement is incredibly fluid and flows naturally, and the way you switch dimensions in the blink of an eye is always impressive.

Rift Apart has set the standard of how to incorporate these elements into other games moving forward. The loading screens are almost non-existent and thanks to the different modes it offers, you’re able to experience the game at its best. Of course, I know high-end PC’s can do this exponentially better than a PS5 will ever be able to, but it’s still great seeing the PS5 being able to harness and project this kind of power. This may be the best looking game of the year and once all the bugs and glitches are squared away, it’ll more than likely be the game that also runs the smoothest.

The gameplay is as fun as ever. It still follows the traditional Ratchet & Clank tropes, that being traversing through different worlds and levels and taking out all kinds of enemies and mini-bosses, and eventually having that one big boss fight. You’re able to purchase new weapons with Bolts you collect, and you can level up the weapons by simply using them. You also collect something called Raritanium, which you use to upgrade these weapons and make them even stronger. This has all been seen before in past games to a certain extent, but I think this new entry breaks some conventions and adds new gameplay features as well. The most obvious one, for me, is how much bigger the worlds feel and the sense of freedom the game gives you in order to complete new missions and tasks.

The game isn’t entirely open world since you can’t fly to different planets by actually controlling the vehilce, which is a missed opportunity, in my opinion. However, once you choose to travel to a new planet, you arrive in said planet and you’re able to explore most of it in its entirety. Most of the Ratchet & Clank games are pretty linear and straight-forward, that being you’re constantly moving forward through a level and rarely back-tracking. There’s usually only one task to complete at a time, rather than having multiple side missions to do in order to unlock certain rewards. Not saying there isn’t any at all in the other games, but it’s much more apparent in Rift Apart. It isn’t as linear as other games and you’re given much more freedom to journey along these new worlds you go to by being able to reach certain points of interest and discovering new things to collect and new enemies to fight.

A huge addition to the game is the utilization of rifts. As mentioned earlier, there are these new crystals called Blizon crystals. Usually, they’re placed randomly in some corner or area in the map. You melee it and it completely changes the scenery of the world you’re in. Although it’s still the same world, it’s in an entirely different setting, or, more appropriately, a new dimension. Some of the dimensions are vastly different than the previous one, including new creatures to interact with or fight against, different ways to explore the areas, and so on. There are other utilizations of rifts, such as using them to reach areas or destinations that are harder to get to. It’s mostly a means of traveling faster, though. You can also activate a rift, which transports you to some sort of mini-dungeon or side quest. Here, you have to go through the level and reach a certain point to get a new item, which is usually a piece of an outfit that comes with a skill enhancement.

With a game like this, especially in today’s day and age, I think it would’ve benefitted immensely from being a completely open-world type game. I would love to travel as the pilot and go to different planets on my own rather than selecting a new place to go to and the game just takes me there. This is the kind of game that can utilize an element of this caliber and really excel at it. It also opens up many other opportunities, such as running into new areas to explore in space and getting into different kinds of battles while incorporating different platforming techniques. It sounds very Star Fox-ish and I’m completely here for it. Then again, it’s mostly me being spoiled since most games today are open-world experiences and it goes to show a game like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart can be one of the best games of the year and still not include key elements from other games.

The story is still very charming, in typical series fashion. It’s still very much catered to kids since most of the dialogue is light-hearted. However, it also does have its moments with some adult humor, but that’s something to be expected from this series. I mean, if you look at some of the title from past games, such as Going Commando, Up Your Arsenal, and even Quest for Booty, you can see the play on words in these titles and what the developers were trying to do while still keeping it kid-friendly. I really enjoyed the characters in this game as well. Ratchet and Clank are still extremely likable and still are one of the best duos in gaming history. Rivet is a welcome newcomer as well, sharing some similarities with Ratchet while also having her own unique personality. The same can be said about Kit, who’s a lot like Clank, but there’s more to her than meets the eye. I loved seeing the dynamic between them, seeing how Ratchet spends most of the game with Kit and Rivet with Clank. It offers a new take on these characters and how they interact with different people after going on a variety of different adventures for so long.

Dr. Nefarious is still the stereotypical annoying villain, as always. He’s a mad scientist and he does just about everything you’d expect from a villain like him. He’s very similar to other villains from different video games, such as Dr. Robotnik from the Sonic the Hedgehog series and Dr. Neo Cortex from the Crash Bandicoot series. He continues his quest for world domination in this game and the confrontations you have with him are still entertaining.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a near perfect game. The bugs and glitches are very annoying and did hinder the overall experience a bit, but once they’re fixed, this will be one of the best games of 2021. I hope the next entry expands a bit more on the world building and the sense of exploration by giving the player a bit more freedom in terms of traveling from place to place. But, at the end of the day, Ratchet & Clank remains one of the golden standards in platformers and action adventure games. It’s a must-play, without a doubt.

Score: A


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