There’s a certain joy in owning a new video game console, when you have friends around and they spot it underneath your TV. A few “ooohs” and “aaahs” later, some humble-bragging, and a very weak effort to brush aside the techno-lust in the room, and it won’t be long before you gleefully switch your unit on and show a game or two off on it, basking in the adulation of your chums as their jaws hit the floor.
The thing is, the PS5 has had great games so far but nothing that truly feels or looks next-gen in one complete package. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales builds on the foundation of one of the best PS4 games of all time, while Demon’s Souls is a remake of a title that has a very niche and masochistic audience if we’re being honest.
And then there’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. If ever there was going to be a game that would make you feel absolutely justified about spending a silly amount of cash on a big TV, this is the game that you use to eliminate any lingering buyer’s remorse. If ever there was going to be a single video game that sets the benchmark for what the PS5’s first-party exclusives should aspire to be, it’s the tale of a pair of Lombaxes from two separate dimensions, united by an adorable robot, danger, and an adventure to save an entire multiverse from being ripped apart.
For anyone who has been invested in Ratchet & Clank since the duo first burst onto the scene in 2002 or even through the more recent remake from 2016, Rift Apart is going to feel like a comfortable pair of magna-boots to hop into. There’s nothing inherently complex about Rift Apart, as the game sticks to the core basics of the franchise: Whacking goons with an oversized power tool, collecting some of the wildest weapons to ever grace a console, and taking on a few puzzles between action-packed boss fights.
But it’s not an entirely nostalgic game either, as Rift Apart has more than a few shares of modern touches to bring the franchise up to speed as well – as Ratchet and Clank find themselves forced out of retirement and on the hunt for Dr Nefarious after he hops between realities after he steals the Dimensionator weapon that was introduced to the franchise all the way back in 2007’s Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.
The biggest twist here isn’t that Nefarious has found a dimension where he’s actually managed to win, but that Ratchet has a counterpart in this reality by the name of Rivet. Compared to the usual and more optimistic levels from previous games, this dimension is firmly in the grip of a Nefarious who has become Emperor and has the galaxy caught in an iron grip of tyranny. Where one Lombax has failed though, maybe two of them can prevail.
And that right there, sets the stage for a game that expertly balances its old-gen DNA with fun action, exciting platforming, and a ton of heart. There’s no question that some of the most exclusive games on the PS5 have so far dived into heavy and intense issues, with the more recent Returnal being a prime example of edge of your pants content, but the sheer wholesomeness on display in Rift Apart sets it…well apart from those other games!
Ratchet, Rivet, and Clank’s journey is one told with a surprisingly sophisticated level of storytelling, full of both laugh out loud moments and surprising gut punches to the heart, and the fact that it looks better than a Pixar movie helps sell those emotional haymakers through some astounding setpieces. From the first level’s explosive opening that sets the stage to an all or nothing finale, Rift Apart is a stunning showcase for the PS5.
I played the game using its fidelity mode option, which goes for the native 4K approach at 30 frames per second and the end result is a game that is incredibly vibrant and pops with dangerous levels of charm. There’s a staggering numerb of overt and covert details in any level, all shining in a galaxy that is beautiful to behold and even more fun to risk your tail in when the armies of an intergalactic madman descend on you. I mean you can even count the teeth on Rivet and Ratchet. That’s proper next-gen right there, when you can count smile bones.
The core meat and potatoes gunplay also feels superb, thanks in part to a new arsenal of weapons that range from standard pew-pew blasters to something that feels like it was stripped from the deck of a planet-destroying superweapon. There more to each of these glorious guns though, as they can be leveled up and further augmented as you gain experience, and the amount of explosive chaos you can create with them is unreal.
The other big question though, is how does the game function with its key centerpiece, the dimensional rifts that threaten to destroy all of reality? Hyped in the initial reveal, these portals are more closely interwoven into the fabric of Rift Apart’s story rather than random reality-holes that you can jump through to instantly visit one of several other worlds, although such elements do come into play during more scripted moments.
Instead, you’ll regularly find dimensional rifts that you can use a tactical advantage, essentially teleporting to other parts of the stage when you need a breather, and it’s an admittedly more organic tool for keeping the game fresh and fun. It’s not the only trick up the Lombax sleeve though, because Rift Apart throws players into several puzzles as Clank has to help fix the multiverse on the astral plane, there’s a chance to fight computer viruses with an adorable little companion named Glitch, and even some high-velocity fun using Speedles, super-fast critters with a clear need for speed.
On top of that there are even collectibles that you can hunt for in your downtime, but fret not: There’s a more than manageable number of them, and they never border on the obscenes like they did in that one game that rhyhmes with Bantam Snorkle Fight.
As a PS5 game though, Rift Apart’s incredible gameplay is just part of the appeal, with the other big draw being how well the game integrates with the DualSense controller. Astro’s Playroom and Returnal have been outstanding examples of using that peripheral to add something extra to an experience, and Rift Apart does that with a wonderfully chunky sense of haptic feedback.
Considering that Ratchet and Rivet can whip out all manner of robot-busting tools of mass destruction, the DualSense integration provides more than enough variety on this front when you squeeze the trigger, and is complemented by the speaker broadcasting various sounds to further enhance the gunplay. One prime example is when you freeze enemies with a gun that lobs balls of icy destruction, which then results in not only the trigger loosing all resistance as a new round is loaded, but satisfyingly clanky sound effects when you wallop those goons with your melee attack.
A beefy shotgun has more subtle layers of resistance to help you decide whether you want to unleash or or all barrels of destruction, a mini-gun that spews tiny black holes sends the controller into a vibrating fit, and a grenade launcher allows you to use the aiming trigger resistance to gauge how far you want to hurl an explosive. It’s just pure haptic bliss, right there in your hands.
Last Updated: June 8, 2021