Adventure platforming games often serve as a nostalgic nod to something that used to be great, but doesn’t quite hold up in the most modern era of gaming.
One of the longest-running platforming franchises is Ratchet & Clank, a series of action-adventure space romps that first appeared in 2002, developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the latest entry to the series, bringing the franchise’s classic jumping, swinging and bullet-flinging action exclusively to the PlayStation 5.
Rift Apart sits on the timeline after the 2016 remake of the first Ratchet & Clank — which also served as a soft reboot of the series — and 2013’s Into The Nexus, the most recent entry.
The game releases on Friday June 11, and the critical reception has been overwhelmingly positive so far, with green scores across the board and a Metacritic average of 89 as of this writing.
Rift Apart’s main plotline sees the dynamic duo — Ratchet the Lombax and his small robot pal, Clank — hunting for the Dimensionator, a gun that can open portals to other dimensions.
This mechanic sees the protagonists swinging in between two very different environments in the blink of an eye, with seamless transitions.
“These transitional moments are as magical and fun as they sound,” wrote Andrew Reiner in his 9/10 review for Game Informer. “Often wowing you with just how different the next world is compared to the one you are currently standing in.”
However, while the rifts certainly look impressive, they don’t seem to have much use beyond that. Gene Park noted this in his 10/10 review for The Washington Post.
“The rifts mostly operate as a way for the player to navigate maps, whether it’s to swing to “open rifts” like they’re grappling points, or warping you to a completely different location,” he wrote.
“Otherwise, it’s an enchanting visual trick, made possible with the PlayStation 5′s powerful hardware.”
One of the game’s strongest elements is indeed how visually stunning it all looks. From environments to characters, to the tiniest lighting details on Ratchet’s furry ears, the game is revered as the perfect showpiece for PS5.
In his 4/5 review for VGC, our very own Christopher Dring describes Rift Apart’s graphics as “sumptuous” and notes that the series has “often been compared to Pixar for its impressive cinematic visuals.”
This is echoed by Keza MacDonald in her 8/10 review for The Guardian, who said that “it’s hard to overstate how technically impressive Rift Apart is” and noted that “everything is colourful and gorgeous.”
The game also makes use of the PlayStation 5’s haptic feedback, providing new rumbles and motions to enhance the gameplay.
“Ratchet & Clank is a series that has always focused on how it feels to play, which is what makes the PS5 and its DualSense controller an ideal match,” wrote Dring, adding “The surfaces, too, have an impact on the game’s rumble, from pacing over soft snow, running down hard surfaces, or scampering through grass. The game just feels wonderful.”
Rift Apart includes Ratchet & Clank’s trademark arsenal of wacky and wonderful weapons that are incremental to the series, from grandiose rocket launchers to rapid fire elemental rifles. And as usual, weapons can be upgraded as players progress.
MacDonald commented on the array of weapons available, which ranges from “a sprinkler that turns foes into stationary topiary to a buzz-saw launcher to a good old-fashioned bazooka.”
Park also said that “upgrading the game’s 18 diverse weapons by collecting literal millions of bolts is still a rewarding preoccupation.”
Meanwhile, Rift Apart’s storyline isn’t the most entrancing or complex tale, but it appears to be whimsical, charming, and faithful to the series in general.
“Rift Apart is a sequel that clings tightly to its storied heritage, never once betraying the foundation that was laid in 2002,” Game Informer’s Reiner said.
Similarly, MacDonald dubbed the game as “a blissfully uncomplicated cartoon science-fiction escapade about two furry aliens trying to save the universe.”
New playable protagonist Rivet is also a welcome addition to the series. Reiner noted how the character “breathes fresh life into the series,” while Park wrote that “Rift Apart wouldn’t be as special” without her inclusion.
In all, Rift Apart appears to be a thoroughly impressive entry into the series, reigniting its trademark humour and hyperactive combat for a modern audience.
“Insomniac Games has created the rare modern masterpiece with no convoluted agenda, no subtext — just so many reasons to smile and laugh,” concluded Washington Post’s Park.
“This purity is felt through every pixel, every line reading and every planet. We’re lucky to have it in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the first great game of the new console generation.”
MacDonald shared a similar sentiment: “It’s just such a lot of fun, and so gorgeous I still can’t quite believe it.
“If this is an indication of how the new generation of consoles can infuse familiar-feeling games with new wonder, we’re in for a great few years.”
Game Informer’s Reiner wrote: “It checks all of the next-gen boxes, dazzling with its power, speed, sound, and control.
“When coupled with this series’ tried-and-true gameplay, the experience absolutely sizzles, creating a fun rollercoaster ride from start to finish.”
Rift Apart seems to have created a modern experience that feels brand new out of the bones of what made the series special almost 20 years ago, without those aspects feeling dated or stale. All of this combined looks set to satisfy Ratchet and Clank fans in every dimension.
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