Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review

By Luke Albigés,
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has so many graphics. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of graphics. A better-looking game you simply will not find, and while the PS5 is already home to a few lookers, Rift Apart is on a totally different level — there's no better showcase for the power of Sony's latest console than this. To anyone concerned about the length of the game and the value for money it offers, here's something to bounce around in your brainbox for a bit: people readily pay top dollar for precious stones, and they do nothing except look pretty. The significantly more affordable Rift Apart looks every bit as beautiful as some shiny old rock, plus it plays and sounds considerably better too, as well as putting money back into the pockets of some of the most talented digital artists in the industry. Will you get as much bang for your buck as you would from something like a Diablo game? Of course not. But every last bang (and there are a lot) will be the best bang you've ever seen, every frame something to truly savour for the 1/60th of a second that it lasts, and every moment spent on this planet-hopping adventure one that will stay with you for a long time to come. Graphics aren't everything, of course. But it cannot be overstated how much immersion and spectacle visuals of this world-class standard can add to a game, and Rift Apart is a breathtaking experience unlike any other — it's the game your PS5 was born to play.

ratchet & clank rift apart new lombax gameplay trailer

We should probably start with a little bit more about those lush visuals, as they're such a huge part of what makes Rift Apart feel like a true generational leap for the series. The sheer amount of detail and activity in every single scene is absolutely remarkable, and few sequences showcase this better than landing on a new planet for the first time. These sweeping shots show off the scale of the game beautifully, always teeming with life and/or abuzz with activity, all the way from the impressive architecture of cities and building right down to the most minute of details. There are several graphics options available, and we quickly settled on taking a slight resolution hit into order to get both 60fps and ray-tracing — image quality remained beautifully crisp, the snappy frame rate made the game feel that much more polished and impressive still, and ray-tracing was a no-brainer in a game where you've got a chrome robo-buddy strapped to your back a good deal of the time. Lighting and reflections are super impressive throughout, mimicking natural light to make everything from shady secluded forest groves to sun-soaked wastelands as believeable as possible. There are plenty of moments when you'll just want to take a break and drink in everything that's going on on the screen, and at times it feels like you need to... like your brain just gets overloaded on detail and takes a moment to catch up with itself.

You'll be glad to hear that Rift Apart sounds every bit as good as it looks, too. The score (courtesy of Thor Ragnarok composer and Devo legend, Mark Mothersbaugh) is phenomenal and weaves between genres and styles beautifully as the backdrop of the adventure changes, masterfully adapting to complement each scene. It's high-intensity electronica one moment for a digital 'hacking' sequence and orchestral swells the next as an elaborate chase set piece plays out across multiple dimensions in real time. Vocal work is similarly top notch, with the interdimensional gimmick affording the team an opportunity to show off some classic characters in new ways. Newcomer Rivet is the most prominent of these, and also the strongest, with Jennifer Hale putting in a wonderful performance as Ratchet's dimensional counterpart, giving her more of a sense of depth and nuance than we usually get from the leading Lombax. As a massive Invader Zim fan, I also have a lot of time for the battle arena announcer being Richard Horvitz as Little Zurkon. I've no doubt his maniacal screeching will absolutely grate on some people, but I will never tire of having Zim scream at me.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

While the presentation here is clearly a massive step up from previous (and already impressive) Ratchet games, the same can't really be said of the mechanics. That's not really a criticism, mind — the core systems have been iterated to near perfection over the course of two decades and there's not all that much more room left for upwards growth for things like gunplay, platforming, and puzzles. Thanks to the power and speed of the PS5, however, there's plenty of room for outward growth instead. Sequences like that rift cascade chase from the original gameplay reveal are a perfect example of this; previous games did similar things within a single location, but being able to throw players between dimensions and different gameplay styles in the blink of an eye affords these sections a sense of freshness despite them being mechanically identical to what has been done before. Honestly, playing out the segment in question just feels like magic, and there are even crazier ones later in the game when the dimensional chaos begins to bubble over.

Set pieces in general are a highlight of Rift Apart, and by far the best showcase for those much-vaunted dimensional rifts. They're used fairly sparingly in moment-to-moment play, pretty much just as handy teleport points to help you zip around battlefields and as ways of getting into 'pocket dimensions' (read: short bonus levels where you can bag new armour pieces). There's one planet in particular where portals play a more prominent part as you jump back and forth between parallel universe versions of the same locations to solve puzzles, and it's great to see the interdimensional systems used with restraint elsewhere to offset the pure chaos that kicks off whenever rifts appear in the bigger action sequences. The game's relatively short runtime also means that this mechanic never gets a chance to outstay its welcome, and it doesn't hurt that it's used inventively from start to finish.

ratchet & clank rift apart gameplay

The arsenal of over-the-top weapons is as crazy and creative as ever, and if you think they're wild when you first pick them up, just wait until you kit them out with upgrades and get them levelled up. Destiny fans will get a kick out of a few of them that feel like analogues of certain Exotics — Anarchy, Sweet Business, and Tractor Cannon, most notably — and everyone will soon find guns they love to use and which synergise well with one another. One fires oversized bullets that can be manually ricocheted between targets, another launches burrowing seeker explosives, several take the form of grenades that explode into helpful minions... it's an awesome selection and since the game freezes when you pull up the weapon wheel, you can take a moment to pick which will work best in any given situation, or even pull off some pretty neat combos. Most make full use of the DualSense controller's haptics too, with partial R2 pulls working differently to full presses and the trigger pushing back accordingly to make sure you never get the wrong outcome. Haptics are put to spectacular use throught the game, actually, from the aforementioned weapon feedback to things like the way the thumping beats coming out of Club Nefarious serve as a kind of makeshift compass to help find the place, with the pad going from subtle tremble when you get close to a full-on handquake when you get inside and the booming bass does its thing.

In terms of trophies, all I'll say is that it's a very Ratchet list. Considering all the creativity on display in its games, Insomniac doesn't tend to be especially adventurous with its trophy lists. There are a handful for specific tasks — Return Policy for one will be a pain, as it involves maxing out the shield generator weapon (which itself is kinda redundant outside of the higher difficulties) before you can even start on it — but it's mostly story stuff, side quests, and grabbing collectibles. There'll be a little mopping up to do after the story is done, but you should be able to get the platinum done in 20 hours or so... none of the trophies require you to do Challenge mode (New Game+ in all but name) but you'll likely want to anyway to see some of the game's wildest moments again, and to take all of the weapons to their ludicrous maxed-out forms.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


Summary

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an exceptional and constantly impressive example of what a next-gen game can and should be, iterating on strong existing fundamentals while layering on a bunch of technical wizardry to create an experience only possible on new hardware. Some will take umbrage with the relative brevity of the adventure, but it's so densely packed and lovingly polished that I can't bring myself to be mad at it — I'll 100% be jumping back in for a Challenge run once I'm done with the remaining trophies, and I doubt that'll be my last playthrough. In fact, I can see my PS5 getting lugged over to a fair few friends' houses just to witness their reactions when they get to see what a true next-gen game looks like. If you've been lucky enough to get hold of a PS5, this is the game that shows better than any other just what the gleaming white tower of power can really do.
5 / 5
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ethics
Luke spent around 15 hours saving multiple dimensions, and unlocked 37 of the game's 47 trophies in the process. A review copy was provided by Sony.
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Hey, I'm Luke! I've been playing games since way back in the 8-bit days, and have spent the last 15+ years writing and talking about them professionally for anyone and everyone who would let me. Monster Hunter fanatic, wearer of many fine hats, and always up for a raid.