We were lucky enough to get our hands on a review copy, and the responsibility, nay, the honour, was bestowed upon me to play through the game (but really I clung to the controller with a death grip and snapped at anyone that came close)
I’ll break this down as best I can, but honestly I could go on for days. But I won’t. Because I have not one, but two dimensions to save.
I’ll start with what you want to hear first: Rift Apart is EXACTLY what you would expect from a Ratchet & Clank game on PS5 – This game over delivers on every level.
EVERY. LEVEL. Let’s talk about that:
It comes as no surprise that the graphics are amazing, but it’s still a bit of a shocker to me how they’ve seamlessly blend cutscenes into actual gameplay. I’m old enough to remember what it was like to watch a cutscene, then fade-to-black transition into shithouse in-game graphics. It was all that systems were capable of at the time and no one cared. Rift Apart cleverly hides transitions to the point where you really don’t know when you’re playing; the very start of the game had me simply not comprehending when the game actually began. It feels like magic and is how every game should treat cutscenes.
We could talk about the PS5’s amazing graphics capabilities (and we will) but the unsung hero here is the SSD: caching 4k video and seamlessly transitioning into gameplay without any loads has solid-state written all over it, and Insomniac have made it especially magical by hiding the transitions with excellent storyboarding.
But man let me tell you the graphics are kind of mind blowing. It really feels as if Insomniac pulled out all the stops in making this one as alive and vibrant as possible. I mean, look at this:
Ratchet & Clank games have always tried their best to make the backgrounds move and feel as alive as possible, but with the PS5’s power, they’ve really, really outdone themselves when it comes to populating environments with extras and generally just making things feel less like a lifeless level and more like a busy train station, complete with cowering citizens.
Interestingly, Rift Apart comes with a few different graphics options:
- Fidelity: which runs 30fps, ALL TEH graphics and ray tracing
- Performance RT – 60fps, with some graphics disabled and ray tracing
- Performance – 60fps with even less graphics and ray tracing disabled
Take a look a the difference here:
While I love seeing things run buttery smooth, I’ve opted to go with the default “Fidelity” mode for the full experience; I can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet RT.
The common gameplay elements of Rift Apart are kind of rad. No spoilers here, but the unlock mini-games now have a more action-oriented approach (I personally prefer puzzles but hey, it’s still hella fun) and Clank puzzles now take the form of one of my favourite games, Lemmings. The core gameplay just feels… tighter around the action. Bullet-hell encounters feel more in your control (and less dying to something shooting you offscreen) with the addition of a few tricksy traversal mechanics. I found myself strategising fights, as opposed to working my way around the weapon wheel unloading everything in my arsenal. Adaptive triggers play a unique role depending on the gun you’re using, and also go slack when you run out of ammo. I’m personally still not used to to it, and am still on the fence, but that could just be muscle memory from years of using normal triggers. I’m old.
DualSense environmental vibrations continue to amaze me, the micro feedback of every step taken, and each different material interacted with, really does help with the immersion.
The new rift mechanic adds an interesting spin to traversal, and I get a kick every time using it. It should be noted that the PS5’s SSD apparently plays a big part in caching chunks of the level and moving everything as you go through a rift (talkin’ like I know how all that works). The result is pure, unadulterated magic. Check this out:
Weapons are of course, amazeballs creative interpretations of stuff we’ve seen before (how many other ways can a rocket launcher be a rocket launcher? Of course Insomniac found a way) but with interesting designs, mechanics and upgrades; you’re always excited to check in with Mrs.Zurkon to see what she has in stock. It’s also worth noting that she hilariously explains every weapon in a video if you choose to watch how it works, complete with a jovial motherly interpretation of how the weapon sounds. We see the return of the raritanium upgrade system, giving you additional reason to have a look around every level.
And the LEVELS. Guhhhh. I hesitate to go into what each level contains, but suffice to say that the level design is such that I’m excited to see what’s around every corner, and find myself naturally exploring just to marvel at the world / environment. Finding gold bolts / caches of raritanium becomes a fun distraction between progressing the storyline.
This isn’t really my area of expertise (and I won’t bother going into music) but I do own an old pair of PS4 Platinum cans which support 3D sound (PROTIP: invest in some sort of headset that supports 3D sound) and it is phenomenal. Environmental sound comes in the form of weather, ambient noise and chatter from passerbys that helps bring the level design to life; it’s so subtle that I didn’t really notice till you take off your headset / switch to TV audio and feel something is missing.
Enemies call out hilarious insults, which has always been a fun laugh, but with 3D sound I found myself naturally turning in the direction the sound comes from (especially convenient with small mobs while wrench-smashing). Again, super subtle, but a welcome change to how games are played in my opinion.
With the amount of AAA games that have been hyped to oblivion and failed to deliver, it’s… gratifying to play something that not just feels polished and complete, but really is a labour of love. The attention to detail, the QOL improvements and preservation of what makes an R&C game great genuinely brings me joy. While there’s the temptation to blitz through the game and be one of the firsts to complete it, I’m rationing out my playtime to make sure I savour every little bit of this game, which I’m convinced is exactly what Insomniac had in mind.