It’s funny to think about how we took the quirky characters of these PS2 and PS3 titles for granted. It seemed like we never went too long before we were able to go on another adventure with Jax and Daxter or Sly Cooper. Now, we don’t see these releases very often, if at all, which has raised the expectations of what the Rachet & Clank series can do in this new console generation. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a product of love for these characters and a genre that is often overlooked.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart begins as the duo heroes celebrate their accomplishments. It’s been some time since they’ve saved the world, giving Clank enough time to create a new Dimensionator as a gift to Ratchet. The possibility of Ratchet being reunited with his race weighs on the lonely Lombax. Still, Dr. Nefarious has other plans as he crashes the party and causes a dimensional rift that brings chaos to the universe.
In another dimension, we meet Rivet—a female Lombax who shares a few hero-like qualities with Ratchet. However, Nefarious is an emperor in her world, and Rivet is a part of the resistance aimed to bring him down. Ratchet and Clank end up in this dimension, become separated, and must fight to rebuild the Dimensionator and restore peace. This requires them to work apart, but the idea is to divide and conquer each task to make things right.
Rivet is a really cool character. During gameplay, you’ll be able to play as each of them Lombax characters, but sadly they don’t control any differently. It’s not like Rivet has a moveset that Ratchet doesn’t have, and they even share guns and upgrades. For example, I acquired booster shoes as Ratchet, but she also had them when I switched to Rivet. This isn’t a major problem because the gameplay is a hell of a lot of fun, but I would have liked them to be a little more unique.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Everything is a natural extension of the tight controls and excellent implementation of haptic feedback.[/perfectpullquote]
Players must travel from world to world collecting items and meeting new characters who will direct them to even more areas. The level design here is Insomniac at their best because you’d be hard-pressed to ever feel like something you’re doing is repetitive or overused. There a sense of openness about each level, with some even having an open-world-like area to explore. Each world visited has its gimmicks, but there’s just so much to do that every time you step onto a planet, a world of possibilities floods over you.
This design is important because it keeps you on your toes. I was always ready for a fight at a moment’s notice, but there are times where platforming sections or mini-game-type missions are needed to progress. I never felt overwhelmed with tasks as navigating the environments came naturally. This might be due to my experience with the genre, but I always ended up where I needed to go without much help from the map that does provide helpful markers in case you get lost. During exploration, rifts may appear that players can pull themselves into to get around a battlefield or reach a new area quickly.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart keeps it a bit straightforward with its arsenal design. The weapons get outlandish, but they are each practical in their own way. Using a weapon will increase its level and allow for more upgrades used from crystals found throughout stages. It’s a non-intrusive way to show growth and keep you open-eyed for any secret areas within the levels. As the arsenal grows, the game forces you to really use all your weapons with minimal ammo opportunities. I loved this slight challenge as you’re constantly switching weapons and running out of ammo, which causes a change in strategy.
Customization is one of the highlighted features where players can find new helmets, boots, or chest pieces. These are mainly for visual purposes only and are also used as incentives for completing challenging platforming side-missions. I like the challenge more than the prize, but all the costumes look cool.
3D platforming is a tough sell, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart nails it. The controls are tight and feature enough variety to tackle levels in unique ways. The versatile movement is brought into battle scenes where you can double-jump and phantom dash your way through encounters. The game encourages using every ability to get through levels, but it did take me some time to get the double jump down.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart ushers in a new generation of adventure games[/perfectpullquote]
Given that you’ll be moving a lot, I appreciated how each level introduces new challenges to the player to test their skills. Enemy mobs will suddenly appear, you’ll need to wall run several times on moving platforms, or you’ll need to beat the timer in some mini-game. Everything is a natural extension of the tight controls and excellent implementation of haptic feedback.
Still, one apparent oversite is that you will see a lot of the same enemies. I wish each world had its own unique enemy types, but that’s just not the case here. I think it’s more apparent when seven of the same robots with huge fists are rushing at you. Regardless, this is a gorgeous game and is highly deserving of multiple playthroughs considering each area contains additional missions and many secret areas.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart ushers in a new generation of adventure games headed by this charming heroic duo. Sadly, Rivet is a strong setpiece in the narrative but doesn’t differentiate enough in combat. Still, this doesn’t affect the sheer amount of fun you’ll be having during every moment of gameplay. There is so much packed in this adventure complemented by competent level design, amazing weapons, and strong platforming. This is Ratchet & Clank for the new generation, and I hope it’s not too long before we see them again.
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