Insomniac has a long and strange history with Sony. The team made not one, but two all-timer 3D mascot platformers for Playstation: Spyro the Dragon
and Ratchet & Clank
. It worked on the Spyro trilogy for three years between 1997 and 2000.
The purple dragon's first outing was a big hit on the PlayStation critically, but also among its younger target audience. Indeed, Spyro's battle against Gnasty Gnork proved so popular that a second game — Ripto's Rage!
— was released a year later. The platformer had a little more content compared to the first game and ironed out a few issues that 3D platformers traditionally struggled with in that era. The third game — 2000's Year of the Dragon
— added fresh environments and activities in order to continue fleshing out the Spyro experience. The formula hadn't yet tired and the game took home universal praise. All three Insomniac developed games are now available in a remasted package from 2018 called the Reignited Trilogy.
After this, Insomniac moved on to Ratchet & Clank. Between 2002 and 2021 the studio produced 12 games (including two stop-gap games) in the series across the PS2, PS3, PSP, PS4, and PS5. To help you negotiate the series, we put together Two Crude Dudes: A Ratchet & Clank Compendium
for you. Needless to say, Ratchet and Clank have become PlayStation icons, even in the modern era, helping provide first-party goodness in the PS5 showcase game Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Insomniac also somehow found the time to put together a trilogy of one of the most underrated modern PlayStation exclusive IP, beginning with 2006's Resistance: Fall of Man. The FPS was a hard turn left at the door of the mascot platformer, but still ushered in the PS3 era with an unforgettable bit of box art. Indeed, the game was good, too. The story was gripping, focusing on an invasion of Chimera aliens that started in the 1950s. Imaginative weaponry dominated the destroyed dystopic cities, and there was even a 40 player multiplayer mode. Resistance 2
kept pace with the first game when it was released in 2008, though there was definite dissent from some who thought that the story and gameplay had shifted a little too far from the original.
2011's Resistance 3
moved away from the militaristic focus of the first two games and lent hard into the horror of the Chimera and the unfolding apocalypse. Despite solid reviews, a poor commercial outing killed the series then and there. Now, we live in hope of a fourth game
. We miss you Resistance!Bend Studio
took on the development of the PSP spin-off Resistance: Retribution in 2009. It was very well received. On Vita in 2012 came Resistance: Burning Skies
, developed by Nihilistic Software. This game had the opposite fate to its predecessors, being slated by some critics and receiving average grades from others.
Then came a really weird period involving mobile, virtual reality, and big publishers. Insomniac got in bed with Activision and made the rather terrible Fuse
in 2013. The studio tried its luck with Microsoft and made the very good — but only moderately financially successful — Sunset Overdrive in 2014. Insomniac also brought the much smaller Song of the Deep to life through the GameTrust scheme in conjunction with Gamestop.
Then there were the few efforts at games for the Oculus VR headset, with Edge of Nowhere in 2016 and Stormland in 2019. We don't even know how to untangle some of the other games out of Insomniac and mobile subsidiary Insomniac Click between 2012 and 2019. There was Outernauts, Fruit Fusion, Bad Dinos, Digit & Dash, The Unspoken, Feral Rights, Seedling, Strangelets, and Slow Down, Bull. We didn't even know about three-quarters of those before writing this.
Then, in 2018, Marvel's Spider-Man
was released on PS4 and it all changed for the Insomniac teams. The web-swinger had come to life in a delightful open-world game, with a comic story to die for and the beauty of a thousand cobwebs shining in the early morning sun. So, Sony finally sealed the deal and bought the studio for a reported $229 million in 2019. Since then, the team has made Spider-Man: Miles Morales
for the launch of the PS5 as a spin-off to the main entry. But, make no mistake, the game trimmed the fat into an unmissable experience. What a studio and what a legacy!