Review | Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
"Another fun as heck Insomniac game that will push all the well-known buttons from the past, but it just doesn't bring anything new or innovative to the table. If you feel fluffy and cute (don't we all?), give it a try, and maybe don't try double jump in real life."
Do you remember having fun and just thinking how much fun you have while playing a game? I usually do when I'm playing Insomniac games. They are, in my opinion, what the games are all about, and that is – fun. I want to elaborate that a bit. It’s not like I’m not having fun in other games, but their games are made with satisfying gameplay and polished mechanics, they just pulls you in without giving you an opportunity to get bored.
On the other hand, I lack some factors in their games. Although fun, that is usually all there is. I can’t say that I enjoyed the story much (neither here nor in Spiderman games), the worlds… It all feels secondary when compared to the fun factor and gameplay.
Meet Rivet (the female Ratchet), Ratchet (mr. Hot stuff, having his red carpet and everything) and of course, the Clank and his Dimensionator (the reason we had to chase the bad guys again).
Ratchet and Clank: Rift apart is no different to what I said above. It was pure fun, I almost finished the game in one take and I was completely satisfied when I finished it. But, I can’t remember much about the world and its planets where we travel to, characters (although I loved the girl Ratchet better than himself) and of course, the story.
The story is really simple, it usually is in games like these. Compared to for example with Jak and Daxter, it’s weaker and lacks the humour Jak has. Sure, it was quirky and silly, but I just don’t bond with Ratchet and Clank, like, ever. I play them because of the gameplay, weapon system and platforming. Playing as Rivet (female Rathet) is the same. All equipment is transfered between the two throughout the game.
This time around Ratchet, our retired hero, is yet to fall into new troubles. Evil genius Emperor Nefarious found a way to open rifts (dimension portals if you will) and bring the chaos back into the now peaceful world. Oh, but how he did that? Well, Clank fixed the Dimensionator to access other dimensions, so that they can find the Lombax race and Ratchet’s missing family, but of course the villains always have a different idea. Your journey will be a dimensional one, but more of that a bit later.
The formula never changed, which is a good and a bad thing. I don't have good picture to show you the rifts so I've used the one from the trophy screenshot - it's basically a portal to another dimension. Both Rivet and Ratchet now have their robots.
Since this was made exclusively for PS5, some things are top notch. Loading screens? Not exists. I mean, here and there when you visit other planets you must watch a short animation, which is a trick they use to hide the actual loading icon and loading times, but overall, I simply love the heck out of this generation when it comes to loading times. It’s simply brilliant how they instantly load when we go forward, and I salute that with all my heart.
Graphics are cute and lovely, pretty and… Cool? Yes, and I can’t honestly say that this is the best so far. It’s not, I even think that the late PS4 phase had stronger candidates. The idea, the showcase that this game serve as is the usage of dimensions I’ve talked about. Shifting dimensions in the middle of the level means it loads the whole new assets and surroundings instantly. It sounds impressive, and I heard so much about it, even though “wow, this will be a revolution and a system seller”, but it’s not really that impressive. It’s impressive when you think about the idea and what technology we now have inside our gaming machines, but in this game… The rifts you use starts intrusive and they happen often in the start, and then they are just about skipping part of the map to pop in further (like shortcuts). Nothing impressive about the whole mechanics expect the few parts where the whole surroundings gets shifted.
Technical “picture” of the game is good, but not Insomniac’s best work. I experienced a bug which led to a missing armour piece (still a known issue after 6 months!). Item that reveals collectibles works randomly on map. You can also jump on not allowed assets and you just die… I must say, pretty weird approach for a PS5 exclusive, but nothing major overall. And also, you can choose performance mode without/with Ray Tracing (one has better resolution) and graphics mode. I only don’t understand why it restarts the menu screen after each setting change, I’ve never seen that.
Apart from that, it’s all smooth sailing!
Some planets are breath-taking, but even in the best pictures you can see the how the surroudings lack details. It's nice and peachy, but nothing we haven't seen already.
If you played the older titles, you know what to expect. There is almost nothing new here, the formula didn’t change. From the gameplay mechanics I loved the double jump and gliding. I was gliding all the time after getting the boots (smooth sailing!). Platforming felt natural, just like exploration. Maps are usually linear, except for one which serve as a semi-open world area where you need to glide a lot. I remember the most the one with all the greenery (Sargasso), and the pirate one. What I never liked in Ratchet games are those levels which are just made out of metal, I always prefer nature. Even with ups and downs when it comes to level design, I can’t say that some level made a big impression on me, they just lack soul and they are pretty forgettable.
Progressing is all about “go there, do this” while following the story timeline, and when you feel like exploring you can collect bolts, spybots, armour pieces (helmet, chest and boots; which grants some damage deduction or EXP gain etc.), and doing optional missions. The optional missions are nothing special, I can’t even remember them anymore. Still, since it’s a shorter game, it’s advisable to do them and explore the maps. I liked the pocket dimensions where you need to do some platforming to reach the armour piece; if only there was more challenging parts, and stuff with puzzles to use a little bit of skill (not everything needs to easy, there should be some challenges).
The arena is also back, but only 15 stages (although I had fun, since the most fun part is the weapons and battles).
The parts with Clank reminded me of Lemmigs with the difference of me getting bored at the end with that parts. The rest is ok-ish. Yes, this is Ratchet in the last picture, he likes to spin, what can I say.
When we talk about battle mechanics and weapon system, I can only say it’s good as it can get. I never felt bored during the whole journey. The number of weapons and their diversity is what made the game fun in the first place. The progress is perfectly timed in a way that you unlock new weapons every now and then, and using them levels them up (plus that adds to their attacks and expands the diversity even further). You can also use Raritarium crystals (something like rare common collectibles that can be collected in hidden map areas) to unlock perks and upgrades on weapons, which ultimately creates one perfect weapon ecosystem. I’m glad they preserved it in this sequel.
Boss fights are no different, but it’s all too easy on lower difficulties so you can’t really experience the challenge and tactics. Sometimes the challenge adds to the game in a way that you experience it on a whole another level, and the challenge is the solution. When the game is easy, all you do is jump and shoot without worrying much about what can go wrong. I miss that, I really do. It’s not about making it impossible so the people can quit, it’s about the balance and highlighting the good parts of a game. Who wants challenge, crank up the difficulty and do the game on NG+ (where you can level your weapons above level 5, like in previous games).
The best part is definitely the gunplay. It's so crispy and fun. Jumping around and dodging felt satisfying, as well as the variety of weapons and its upgrades. I think I like Rivet better than Ratchet
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the same formula we all loved, just in a new game. They did a fine job, but I would never put this game on some “top games” list. It’s nothing new, it lacks impact, and they lessen up on trophy requirements too much.
If you crave for a good Ratchet and Clank sequel, go for it. If you expect something revolutionary, this game will not deliver (but at the same time its mechanics are polished to perfection). Insomniac makes kickass games that are fun and playable on impressive level, but nothing in their latest titles made me think about them in a way that they are the best of the best. Nevertheless, I would recommend the game to everyone, there is no doubt about that. I just hope the next title brings back the challenge, I miss that feeling when you accomplish something by completing the hard parts. There are no hard parts here, only the cuteness, fluffiness and lack of innovation.
"I would recommend the game to absolutely everyone, and even though there is nothing new here, the formula is polished near its perfection."
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