Reviews | Written by Chris Jackson 12/06/2021

RATCHET AND CLANK: RIFT APART

PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 5 | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Over the last two decades, Ratchet and Clank have been on a massive amount of incredible adventures that have seen the pair become mascots for Sony's PlayStation, the console that has been the exclusive home of the series since its inception in 2002. The duo's sixteenth (!!!) escapade takes them on a dimension-hopping jaunt in which they face their old nemesis, Dr. Nefarious, whose dream of exterminating all life in the known universe appears to almost be within reach. With a bit of help from some new friends and a handful of old allies, it's up to the furry Lombax and his tiny robot companion to save the day once again...

Without meaning to wander into the realms of hyperbole, Rift Apart's opening hour might be one of the most incredible first acts ever seen in a videogame. Taking place during a victory parade that stretches far into the distance, its route lined with gigantic crowds full of cheering aliens, fireworks and confetti cannons explode across the sky while bombastic music (courtesy of Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh) booms all around the place, all resulting in the feeling that you're playing a super high-end animated movie, something along the lines of what you might expect Pixar's take on Star Wars or The Avengers to look like. Bouncing across the airborne floats and massive Thanksgiving-style balloons would be breathtaking enough on its own, but when dimensional rifts start to appear, hurtling Ratchet through a whistlestop tour of multiple realities at breakneck speeds, it really feels like just about the most exciting thing you've ever seen.

With the scene now set, Ratchet and Clank and their new lady Lombax friend, Rivet, have the pleasure of exploring half a dozen or so planets where the gameplay settles into a rhythm that will be familiar to anyone who's played any of the previous instalments – many linear environments are waiting to be explored, full of crates to smash (gotta get those all-important nuts and bolts!), hidden areas, collectables to find, “pocket dimensions” that contain brief platforming challenges, and countless aliens and enemy troops to try out your arsenal of wacky weapons on. Rift Apart's combat is some of the best in the series, mainly thanks to its inventive guns – the further you go, the sillier things get, to the point where you'll be setting off your “Topiary Sprinkler” to turn enemies into “defenceless trimmable hedges”, complete with flowers and weeds, before blasting them out of existence with plasma beams, double-barrelled cannons and sentient mushroom turrets...

There are plenty of gadgets to play with too, like the modified boots that allow Ratchet (and Rivet) to glide through the air, grind on rails and walk on certain walls, and the swingshot, hookshot and tether which all allow for exhilarating ways to traverse each planet. There are also brief puzzle sections where players take control of Clank in 3D Lemmings (or maybe even Krusty's Fun House) style puzzle levels which involve manipulating the environment to lead a line of little dudes to the exit, and elsewhere the developers, Insomniac Games, bring in a version of the spider-bot missions from their 2018 Spider-Man title which make a few brief appearances in the form of Glitch, a tiny creepy crawly robot which is able to make its way through electronic devices to clear them of viruses.

Whether you're engaged in satisfying combat or showstopping set-pieces, or enjoying the highly-detailed environments and goofy personalities of the NPCs, or allowing the game's general silliness and irreverent sense of humour (that thankfully always manages to stay on the right side of that fine line between amusing and irritating) to pull you in, there's rarely a dull moment during the 15-20 hour campaign. The boss fights could potentially be a little more inventive and some extra variety in the collectibles would be welcome, and there are a few other nitpicks like an occasionally fussy camera and the odd time where the controls don't seem to be quite as tight as you might want them to be, but these are few and far between and never get too distracting.

Rift Apart is not only the high point of the Ratchet and Clank series but also easily the PS5's most “must have” exclusive right now. The extra bells and whistles provided by the new-gen technology really do make for a truly spectacular and memorable experience. Very much one of those games that's difficult to play without a smile on your face, if you've been lucky enough to get your hands on a PlayStation 5, there's no question that this needs to be added to your collection as soon as possible!