PS5 exclusives have proved a mixed bag to date, with Miles Morales being impressive albeit a little short on playtime, Demon’s Souls being an enjoyable grind, but not to everyone’s taste and the aforementioned Returnal proving challenging, yet not likely to be a game we pick up to play again anytime soon.
So where does this leave Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which is the most notable exclusive for the PlayStation system before Horizon Forbidden West eventually makes its debut?
If we’re honest, we were never huge fans of the series as the gameplay and story did not tick any of the boxes we have when it comes to a must-play title. For Rift Apart, however, things are a little different as the game promises to showcase what AAA gaming on the PS5 can be. We have had little samplers like Miles Morales up until now, but this is meant to be the genuine main course.
Does it live up to that promise? We spent the past week with the game to find out.
Here’s what we learned about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, whether it delivers on the next-gen experience and is the R1 369 pre-order asking price worth it.
Pixar would be proud
Let’s begin with the visuals and here developer Insomniac Games has truly hit it out of the park. It is to be expected, however, given what the team at Insomniac did on the latest Spider-Man titles. Every frame of this game is polished to a high sheen and looks superb. Things are also set to look even better thanks to a day one patch that will open up some of the finer aspects of the Performance Mode that will be available.
While it can be easy to lump games aimed at a younger audience as being easier to design than say something like Resident Evil Village (which looks great by the way), the same argument does not hold for Rift Apart. The use of colour and vibrancy throughout is impressive, but so are the scenes set at night in some of the megacity environments, as the neon lit backdrop add a nuance to gameplay that those with an eye for detail will truly appreciate.
The cut scenes and cinematics are also quite impressive and would not be out of place next to big budget Pixar or Disney film.
Given that the game costs R1 400, there are certain expectations in terms of quality, and here Rift Apart delivers. The game also plays extremely smooth too, as transitions between riding wires across the city or rocket booting across an alien planet into a new battle zone went down without a hitch every time we did it.
New and old
The Ratchet & Clank franchise has been going for almost two decades now, so there are elements of the gameplay that feel all too familiar. In order to change up the pace, a new character in Rivet has been added to the mix. A female Lombax who partners Clank for most of the game as Ratchet is left to handle things solo for a change.
While adding a counterpoint to Ratchet to give a bit more depth to the storytelling is a nice touch, in terms of gameplay not much changes. Both Ratchet and Rivet have the same controls and options in terms of weapons, with the only differences between the two being the type of cosmetic items that can be earned in-game.
On that front it is a little disappointing as it seems like there was a bit of a copy and paste job done for the two characters and their fighting styles.
The same goes for their weapon skill trees, which do not diverge much from increasing rate of fire, ammo capacity and damage the mode upgrade points you earn. That said, the Insomniac team have come up with some inventive weapons, such as Mr Fungi which deploys a Purple mushroom shaped creature that can take on enemies for a set amount of time.
While there are a few unique options to explore on this front, the combination of Blast Pistol and Shatterbombs were employed the most, given their jack of trades-ness.
What is new and worth making note of is the new Rift mechanic, where small portals open up all over the map and allow you to “teleport” to different areas of the map or environment. These are quite handy if you’re taking on multiple enemies as it allows to switch positions quickly and potentially gain the high ground or new angle of attack as an advantage. Think of it like Batman’s perching in the Arkham games, but a lot less brooding.
Apart from the usual melee and shooter combat, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart tries to change the pacing by adding problem solving puzzle and robot mini missions into the mix. They serve as a solid change of pace early on, but after a while can get a little boring, with the virus killing missions pictured below in particular not being all that challenging.
And here we get to a crucial aspect of the game, while environments may change, the objectives often don’t and a few hours in things can start to feel stale.
The only way to avoid the monotony is to play around with the difficulty settings, with harder settings potentially providing the challenge that more season players will be looking for. There is also a horde-esque battle mode that might help to kill some hours. We’re not talking soulslike difficulty here, but enough of a challenge that a few waves of enemies may help scratch that itch if you have it.
All about the DualSense
Given that this is a PS5 exclusive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart tries to feature as much interaction with the DualSense controller as possible. In fact, we’d venture to say that it is the deeper integration of the features of the controller than what Returnal or Astro’s Playroom does.
Here, on top of the adaptive triggers yielding different rumbles and feedback depending on what is employed, every step, obstacle traversed or hit taken from an enemy results in a different sensation. Added to this is the use of the onboard speakers, which gives Ghost of Tsushima a run for its money and how it employs it and complements what is happening on screen.
It serves as a great advertisement for what the DualSense is all about and sets a standard that future AAA PS5 exclusives will likely be trying to match moving forward.
If you ask us whether Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is worth R1 400, the short answer is no, but that is because very few games can truly command such a price tag. That said, as far as AAA titles go, the level of quality and visuals produced are superb, which when paired with some of the innovative uses of the DualSense controller, makes this one of the better PS5 exclusives we’ve encountered to date.
Our only real criticisms are the fact that ratchet and Rivet play very similar despite trying to be distinct, and without the difficulty turned up a notch or two, after a few hours the visuals only get you so far.
All in all though, Rift Apart is certainly a noteworthy addition as far as the Ratchet & Clank titles are concerned.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Visually stunning and paired with Pixar-level cutscenes, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart shows you exactly what a PS5 exclusive can look like. Mired by some repetitive gameplay at times, the shining light is the use of the DualSense controller to add a different dimension to the title.