Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the newest action game in the hefty Ratchet & Clank franchise. It’s been created specifically for the PlayStation 5. And it definitely showcases the graphic punch of that new console. Rift Apart packs in everything from excellent use of the PlayStation’s dynamic ray-tracing light effects to a Pixar-like animation with 4K presentation.
Compared to past entries, the game’s kid-friendly storyline feels updated and punched-up, too. The tale begins with the Lombaxian Ratchet and his robot pal Clank being celebrated by locals. They’re throwing a massive parade that summarizes all of the famous duo’s past universe-saving adventures. During the festivities, it’s announced that Clank has used his AI know-how to create a fully functional Dimensionator—an interdimensional rift device that will let Ratchet venture off and search for his missing family (and the lost Lombax race).
Before Ratchet and his faithful sidekick can head into the multi-dimensional sunset, however, the evil Dr. Nefarious steps forward to grab the Dimensionator. During the struggle, the powerful device accidentally starts ripping holes in our universe and opening random dimensional rifts everywhere. Ratchet, Clank and the wicked doctor all get sucked into an alternate reality just before that rift-creating device explodes and sends all three in different directions. Clank ends up pretty badly damaged, but is soon picked up and given aid by a heroic Lombax. But this one is a female adventurer named Rivet.
Oh, and there’s an alternate dimensional version of Dr. Nefarious, too. Emperor Nefarious is a guy who rules his dimension with a totalitarian iron glove. Before Nefarious (and the other Nefarious) can unleash an exploding dimensional Armageddon, it’s up to Ratchet, Clank and Rivet to find one another, team up with Resistance fighters and somehow set things aright.
Gamers play as Ratchet, Rivet and Clank exploring the various worlds, solving environmental puzzles and blasting their way through the quickly moving chaos with a mix of third-person shooting and platforming. There are also some new mini-games and a brand-new puzzle type that incorporates a small spider-bot which battles viruses in corrupted computers.
Rivet is Ratchet’s interdimensional female counterpart, but she has her own personality, personal quirks and foibles and is a very enjoyable character to play. The whole adventure, frankly, is wonderfully crafted and matches its sparkling, swirling, impressive visuals with a well-voiced story that’s both funny and, at times, emotionally moving.
Rift Apart explores the idea of people feeling broken and distrustful, and it emphasizes the need to seek forgiveness for wrongs done. On top of that, the game heartily lauds healthy friendship and its ability to transform someone’s life and heal emotional wounds.
This is predominantly a third-person shooter, so there is quite a bit of trigger-pulling in the gaming mix. That said, the comical combat here isn’t bloody or messy.
Zapped robot and beasty foes sometimes glow red when hit or blow up in a puff of purple smoke or a splash of green goo. Gamers can also swing a wrench or a hammer in up-close melee bashing. Battles can definitely be chaotic and frenetic at times as scores of enemies fill the field or the skies. Rivet has a robotic arm in place of one she lost in a previous battle with a large robot.
There is some winking commentary in the comedic dialogue, but nothing crude. And the language is limited to mentions of “kicking butt,” calling someone a “doofus,” or asking “how the heck are ya’,” and the like. Clank gasps out “holy bleep” during one moment of surprise. There are some rather nebulous “undead” dimensional enemies and meditating “dimensional monks” among the cast of characters.
To put it plainly, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is oftenbrain-dazzlingly stunning to look at and a blast to play if you don’t mind a lot of running, jumping and shooting. The story is the best of the series. And it’s a must-have for franchise fans.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.