Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an enormous, breathtakingly beautiful third-person action platformer for PS5. It has hours of exquisitely crafted worlds, world-leading platforming, and a bold, engaging story told by a superb cast. It’s just… so did 2016’s Ratchet & Clank. And, well, 2002’s Ratchet & Clank. Rift Apart is an unquestionably brilliant game, but despite everything the dimension-jumping trailers might have suggested, in many ways it’s the same game developer Insomniac has already made several times over.
Rift Apart begins with an air-based parade for rodent-and-robot heroes Ratchet and Clank celebrating their victories after saving the worlds the last few times. The wonderfully overblown celebration exists to remind us of the hyperbolic nature of the series, sneak in a subtle tutorial, and show off just how much a PS5 can do when it’s not being asked to render individual human skin cells. The screen is an explosion of detail and color, the parade balloons soaring between the intricately lavish city buildings, meticulously animated crowds on either side, as confetti rains all around, all alive around Ratchet as you run and jump through it all. But then, wouldn’t you know it, that awful Dr Nefarious shows up and steals Clank’s gift to Ratchet, a reality-splitting device called the Dimensionator.
Clank’s generous idea was for Ratchet to be able to use the Dimensionator to jump dimensions and discover, at last, if there remain any other Lombaxes. (Which of course, thanks to a bulbous marketing campaign, you know there are. Or at least, is, because the game’s pre-titles cutscene shows a pink-grey Lombax, Rivet, bravely rescuing an innocent creature from the clutches of her world’s Nefarious’ goons.) Meanwhile Ratchet’s Nefarious inevitably presses too many buttons at once, and everything goes haywire, pulling the titular heroes apart, and dragging them into an alternate dimension version of their own universe. This world’s Nefarious has actually succeeded in his attempts at domination, but now reality is being pulled apart by the dimensional rifts that litter the planets.