Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review

Matt Lorrigan

The Ratchet & Clank games have long been a graphical showcase for Sony’s PlayStation consoles. The original game on PS2 offered up gorgeous, busy skyboxes that sold the illusion that each planet was far bigger than the small section you could visit; Tools of Destruction was an explosive introduction to HD gaming on the PlayStation 3, full of action-packed set pieces; and the PS4 remake utilised some interstellar wizardry to often look as good as the animated film it was based on. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart continues this long-running tradition, and, quite frankly, it might be the best-looking game available on consoles right now.

It’s not just the visual fidelity that’s impressive, although there’s no denying it is. Deep, detailed environments full of destructibles, colourful sci-fi architecture, all in glorious 4K. It's stunning. But it also combines all those aspects from the generations prior, painting a picture of giant worlds, with fast-paced action, and animation rivalling that of cinematic giants, like Pixar and DreamWorks. And it's the animation that’s particularly standout here - characters are incredibly expressive, and on the occasions that the game transitions from cutscene to gameplay, it's seamless, to the point you’ll often find yourself caught off guard, not realising you’ve entered a playable moment. Even if played on an older 1080p screen, Rift Apart looks like a next-gen game.

There's few things a rocket to the face won't fix.

And then there’s the rift stuff. Insomniac Games has taken full advantage of the PS5’s super-fast loading times to create some incredibly impressive spectacles, involving dimensional rifts and tears. You’ve probably seen them in the trailers, with Ratchet flying through a series of different locations with barely a stutter, and it bloody well works as well - this is a game that clearly wouldn’t work on last-gen hardware. Outside of set-pieces, you’ll also find similar rifts - pocket dimensions, the game calls them - dotted around each map. Portals to another world that you can see through, walk through, all seamlessly. It’s a little bit magical.

If Rift Apart’s technology is a revolution, then you’ll find the rest of the game is definitely more of an evolution. It may be a showcase for the newfangled speed and power on the PlayStation 5, but there is a decidedly old-school feel to the game design of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. This is a Ratchet & Clank game through-and-through, and, honestly, that’s just fine by me. Each individual planet you discover consists of a small, winding map, with multiple objectives to complete, enemies to defeat, and secrets to collect. That core experience remains nearly unchanged since the original, and while there is definitely more of a narrative momentum to carry you forward in Rift Apart, to fans of the series, this game’s blend of exploration, puzzles, and combat will feel warmly familiar. 

That said, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’s combat is by far the best seen in the series to date. While it builds upon the structure of the 2016 PS4 game, everything has been finely tuned, as if Insomniac has taken its very own OnmiWrench to the bolts of the game, and turned them tight. The weapons, more than just being crafted with the developer’s trademark bonkers imagination, are all carefully balanced, perhaps more than any previous game in the series, each and every one offering up utility in most combat encounters. Combat arenas are often littered with rift tethers and grapple targets, encouraging you to teleport and swing around the map, like a Lombax possessed.

The addition of a new Phantom Dash makes things even more fluid, too. This new move, which offers up a quick dodge and some invincibility during a fight, feels so natural that it's hard to remember how previous games played without it. Smartly, it also has application outside of combat, bolstering the game’s platforming sections in addition to Ratchet’s (or Rivet’s) usual double jump, and when combined with another new addition - the wall-run - makes for some excellent fast-paced platforming.

Despite these new traversal skills, Rift Apart is perhaps still less of a platformer than most of the mainline Ratchet & Clank games that have come before. It’s certainly not gone entirely, but it can often feel like it's on the periphery. During an early tutorial section, you’re introduced to Ratchet’s wall jump - a mainstay of the Lombax’s moveset since the very first game - but I’d be hard pressed to recall another time I had to use it over the next dozen hours or so. 

What is here, however, is still good stuff. Insomniac’s years of experience with the series are easily on show with the cool confidence in which Ratchet and Rivet control. The sign of a good, tight platformer is that you don’t have to ever think too hard about the controls, and that’s certainly the case here. Elsewhere, a clever puzzle mechanic, one that involves the player shifting between two different dimensions of the same planet by hitting glowing crystals, feels like it was pulled straight from a top-quality Zelda game, and proves to be a highlight that shows up just enough to leave you wanting more. And every Gold Bolt, Infobot, or piece of collectible armour, requires you to explore every nook and cranny of each world

If you’re a long-time fan of Ratchet & Clank, like myself, you’ll be pleased to hear that Rift Apart does continue its story from the last new mainline title, Into the Nexus. Insomniac Games strikes a good balance, offering up several Easter eggs and callbacks for fans, without alienating new players with nearly a dozen games of lore and story to unravel. This does have the strange effect, however, of limiting the amount of character development that our two titular heroes experience. Both Ratchet and Clank do have their arcs, but they are strangely muted, and feel more like side-stories than the main experience. 

The visuals are out of this world.

Luckily, the new cast of characters pick up the slack, with Ratchet’s interdimensional doppelganger Rivet proving to be the standout addition to the cast. Brilliantly voice acted by Jennifer Hale, Rivet is expressive, funny, and flawed, and it's really her story - and her relationship with Clank’s counterpart, Kit - that you’re here for. If the next game in the series was announced to be Rivet & Kit, instead of Ratchet & Clank, I certainly wouldn’t be complaining. 

The narrative itself has some fun moments, but it's certainly missing a little bit of the bite of the older titles - that underlying satire which proved the trademark of the original trilogy on PS2 - and instead veers more towards the family-friendly tone of later games. What it lacks in comedy, however, it makes up for in heart, and there’s still plenty of joy to be found. It's a marked improvement on the story of the 2016 Ratchet & Clank game, and proves to be better in pretty much every other area, too.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an incredibly tight, well-paced, spirited action-platformer, wrapped up in the eye-popping visual spectacle afforded by the PlayStation 5. It may make few changes to the core Ratchet & Clank formula, but, to be honest, it doesn’t need to. There’s very little else out there that plays like Ratchet & Clank, and I’m more than happy to keep coming back for more. Whether you’re a series veteran, a complete newbie, or only got involved with the PS4 game, you should definitely play Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. You’ll have a blast.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet & Clank is a top-quality action platformer, wrapped up in a visually stunning next-gen package, that will please fans old and new alike.

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The voice acting in Rift Apart is excellent, but while the soundtrack is good, it can often fade into the background a little.


Visually stunning, there's an argument to be made that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart might be the best looking game on consoles right now. Cracking stuff.


The controls are incredibly fine-tuned, with some of the best gunplay on offer in the series, and the platforming is fluid and responsive.


The level selection is a tad on the small side, but Rift Apart offers plenty to do, with Glitch challenges and Clank puzzles to complete, as well as Gold Bolts and Infobots to find. Challenge Mode gives you a reason to dive straight back in once you're done.


A really nice trophy list that offers a fairly easy, but very fun, platinum to obtain. There is one trophy in particular that becomes a pain without a guide, however.

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