So… this game isn’t a sequel to the remake/reboot from 2016, but a direct sequel to the older games? Yet it’s written like it’s intended for very small children, who will probably have never even heard of those older games. Ooookay then.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the latest in the short line of true PS5 exclusive games. Like the Demon’s Souls remake and Returnal, you can only get this one on the next generation of Sony consoles. The question is: does it make full use of the new machine’s capabilities? Or could you fit this one on the PS4 just as comfortably? And to top it off: is the game worth your time at all?
The answer to all of those questions is: kind of.
Years after the events of the old games, Ratchet and Clank return for a parade. During this celebration, Clank reveals a surprise present for Ratchet: a Dimensionator, a special weapon that allows travel between dimensions, which will allow Ratchet to find his lost species, the Lombaxes. But it’s stolen by old villain, Dr. Nefarious, who uses it to travel to a dimension where he always wins. Here, they meet another Lombax, Rivet, and they join forces to defeat both Dr. and Emperor Nefarious and stop a dimensional cataclysm.
It’s not a bad premise for a game. And the story itself isn’t even that bad. It’s a really simple story with cartoonish characters. The themes aren’t especially thought provoking and the characters don’t have the most thrilling arcs. It’s like a cartoon that would air on a Saturday morning back in the early 2000s.
Even if it has the dialogue of a cartoon from today.
There is some truly god awful dialogue in this game. And unfortunately: there’s a lot of it. Very rarely do the characters stop talking. And they have the dumbest things to say. My eyes rolled so constantly it felt like they were rolling down a hill!
It doesn’t help that the ending is super underwhelming. It’s just “Oh, we beat the bad guy!” then it ends on the least exciting cliffhanger you could imagine. If the gameplay behind the final level weren’t good, it would be a super unsatisfying conclusion.
Luckily, this is a video game. Not a cartoon. So it can make up for mediocre writing with fun gameplay. But first: how does it look?
In terms of presentation, there isn’t much to complain about. It’s got a bright, colorful, and vibrant cartoonish style filled with some truly incredible animation. You can run it at 4K at 30fps or at 1080p at 60fps (I played with the ladder) and either option looks great! It’s a very pretty game!
Not to mention how jam-packed every single level is. There is a ton going on in the background, making each level feel completely alive. It feels as if you could truly explore anywhere on the planet rather than one small section of it surrounded by vast nothingness.
My one problem is with the music. You’d think we’d get some cool sci-fi music to match the themes of each level. Instead, we get generic orchestral tracks that get drowned out by all the different sounds of gunfire and the constant dialogue. It isn’t bad music, but you won’t be humming it to yourself in the shower or actively seeking it out.
Okay now we can talk about the game itself.
Rift Apart is a simple 3D platformer. You jump around and break stuff to collect nuts and bolts in order to pay for new weapons. You use those new weapons to blast your enemies away in various creative and fun ways. Every now and then you solve puzzles, explore to find optional collectibles with big rewards, or fire all your weapons into a tanky boss fight.
The core gameplay itself is pretty fun. It gets a little stale pretty quickly, but it’s always fun to run around and annihilate your enemies with laser beams and space grenades. The actual platforming isn’t very interesting or challenging and the puzzles, few as they are, can be forgettable. But overall, it’s fun.
The puzzles are pretty simple. You play as Clank (or the other robot) and guide a line of your doppelgangers through a maze of obstacles to the exit. To do this, you need to use four different spheres to give them speed boosts, a jump up, or just to manipulate the environment to get them through. While they’re a nice change of pace from ‘shoot and destroy’, they wear out their welcome quickly and can be pretty forgettable.
There are also little mini-levels starring Glitch, a computer program that assists Ratchet on his journey. She is unable to jump, instead climbing around the environment like a spider and blasting the hell out of little computer viruses. This would be fun, if not for the fact that the camera is way too close to your character, the environments are cramped and easy to get lost in, and the enemies do nothing more than charge at you. On top of that, they have their own half-baked storyline that amounts to nothing. Not a fan of these.
The boss fights are a mixed bag. The few that aren’t repeated over and over are really memorable and a lot of fun! Unfortunately, there are two or three that just get thrown at you over and over and over again and they get old so fast.
And at last, we come to the weapons. This series has always prided itself on its wacky and funny arsenals of destruction. So, how does this one hold up?
Meh. It’s alright.
There are some really fun ones in there. There’s one that puts out a sprinkler that envelopes the enemy’s body in a hedge. Two of them spawn little minions to help you out. But most of them are just ‘laser gun’ or ‘laser grenade’. Their use of the PS5’s adaptive triggers is neat; half-pressing or full-pressing them for different effects is an interesting use of the new tech. But I wanted them to go farther! Where’s my weapon that makes the enemy’s dance to disco?! Where’s my gun that plays classical music while blowing my enemies to hell?!
My feelings on this game are definitely harsh. I highly doubt I’ll ever be playing it again. Still, I don’t regret my time spent with it. Rift Apart may not be a game worth playing twice, but it was at least worth playing once.
Just like the PS4 reboot, really.