Ratchet & Clank (2002) cemented itself as my favourite game of the PlayStation 2 generation the moment I first completed it as a teenager back around the time of its launch. Since then, I have played every single Ratchet & Clank game, without exception. In my personal rankings, the original PS2 game was, for a time, overtaken by the fantastic A Crack in Time on the PS3 back in 2009, however, the release of the Ratchet & Clank Collection in 2012 reminded me why I loved the original game so much, and it clinched top spot once again.

While we did get a very good remake of the original game in 2016, diehard fans of the series such as myself had to wait far too long for a new, full-length, mainline Ratchet & Clank game. Thankfully, Insomniac Games came to the rescue in last year’s Future of Gaming event, revealing that they’ve been working on Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a showpiece exclusive for the PlayStation 5 and I have been counting down the days ever since.

Rift Apart begins with both Ratchet and Clank being applauded for their prior heroic efforts throughout the galaxy with a special parade, organised by certain long time recurring characters of the series. Unfortunately, the celebrations do not last, as Dr. Nefarious makes a surprise appearance and steals Clank’s recently-repaired Dimensionator, which was being presented to Ratchet as a gift to allow him to search for his family.

Chaos rapidly ensues as Dr. Nefarious whisks both of our titular heroes off to an alternate dimension in which his dimensional counterpart is the all-powerful, all-seeing Emperor. Clank ends up separated from Ratchet, however, he runs into Ratchet’s dimensional counterpart: a lombax known as Rivet, who is a member of the resistance against Emperor Nefarious.

Rivet and Clank spend a large portion of the game together, while Ratchet heads off on his own… at least, for a while. The game has you sharing playtime between the two lombaxes, as they work towards the common goal of taking down Dr. Nefarious and fixing the dimensional rifts, which are causing great instability in the dimensions. Some of the planets in the game are designed to be played by Ratchet, while others are taken on by Rivet and Clank.

Insomniac have done a great job of weaving the interconnected story of the characters together in a gripping way. There is no fundamental gameplay difference between our two heroes, bar Rivet using a hammer instead of a wrench, however, the dual protagonist approach pays dividends for both the plot and character development.

While I won’t spoil the details, I will say that Rivet is not the only dimensional counterpart character in the game. Many of the series’ recurring characters have parallel personas in Rivet’s dimension and they are all brilliantly written and oftentimes hilarious to interact with. Perhaps it is possible, even, that Ratchet won’t be alone for the entirety of the game? Perhaps he meets a partner of his own along the way? I will leave that for you to discover!

I do not want to spoil much more of the game’s stellar story, however, I do want to say that Rift Apart has what is likely the best plot of any Ratchet & Clank game to date. As always, the writing and dialogue are top notch and will have you laughing and smiling constantly throughout, however, the connected story of Rivet, Ratchet, Clank and the other new alternate dimension characters truly widens the scope and breadth of the franchise and I sincerely hope that Insomniac get to make more games with these characters; they made me fall in love with them the moment I first met them.

Anyone familiar with the promotional material for Rift Apart will know that dimensional rifts play a key role in the game. Indeed, a number of set pieces during the game will have you being transported from one planet to another in blazing fast speed amidst action packed sequences such as boss fights, which is utterly jaw dropping to behold. There is nothing quite like it in any game that I’ve ever experienced to date. This mechanic is used sparingly throughout the game, however, it used in the moments when it is most impactful; during spectacular sequences of gameplay. If Insomniac were to have overused the feature solely for the purpose of ‘showing it off’, I imagine it could have become quite jarring and incoherent. I am pleased that they have decided to reserve it for moments where it leaves the greatest impression.

On the gameplay side of things, while this is unmistakably the Ratchet & Clank you know and love, Insomniac have added quite a few new mobility features to the game in order to increase the pace and fluidity of combat and these are undeniably game changers for the series. Phantom Dash is a new ability which you can activate by pressing circle and it allows you to quickly dash in any direction during combat. During this dash, you are moving ‘in and out’ of the dimension and thus you are invincible to any enemy projectiles or beams which you pass through.

The Rift Tether ability allows you to instantly hop to any yellow rifts which are placed around the battlefield or environment, meaning you can teleport back and forth across short distances; particularly useful in busy combat sequences. Hover boots allow you to dash around planets faster than ever before by charging up with the left trigger to reach maximum speed. A new addition to the series, wall riding, allows you to grind horizontally along a magnetic wall and jump away from it with momentum. These mobility additions, while sounding subtle, work wonders not only to increase the speed and tempo of combat, but also in making the platforming sequences and hidden collectible hunting more fluid, interesting and exciting.

While we are on the topic of gameplay, let’s touch on the arsenal you’ll have at your disposal in Rift Apart. The game features one of the best weapon lineups in Ratchet & Clank history, with a whopping twenty weapons available for you to collect during your travels. Some of my favourite new additions include: The Enforcer, a double barrel shotgun which fires one barrel with a half push of the DualSense adaptive trigger, or both barrels with a full push; Mr. Fungi, an adorable mushroom friend who shoots your enemies for you, using his finger; the Drillhound, a drill which locks on and fires a robotic dog at an enemy, exploding in their face; and the Blackhole Storm, a minigun which obliterates your enemies with a barrage of bullets, fired at a fast rate of fire.

Some of my favourite weapons from older games in the series have also made a comeback, which was a pure delight to discover, having been so long since I last used them. I won’t completely spoil the returning weapons of doom, however, in case you want to surprise yourself.

The arsenal is brilliantly varied such that no two weapons feel the same and every single one of them has been well balanced, meaning I could comfortably switch back and forth from fight to fight. I never came even remotely close to feeling bored by the combat, as there was no shortage of approaches which I could take for any scenario, due to the excellent lineup of weapons.

Each weapon in the game can be upgraded to a maximum level of five during the first playthrough, with each upgrade powering up the stats of the weapon and unlocking new skills in the upgrade tree, which returns from previous games. This allows you to use raritanium to purchase incremental upgrades such as ammo, range, damage or duration buffs. There are also special upgrade cells which only unlock when you purchase all of the bordering cells, usually giving a premium buff or occasionally, new weapon effects, when unlocked.

Once you reach weapon level five, the weapon will transform into a more powerful variant of itself, with a new effect. For example, one of my previously mentioned favourites, the Enforcer, becomes a four barrel tool of destruction known as the Executor when it reaches level five. Those who enjoy playing through Ratchet & Clank games a second time in Challenge Mode will be pleased to find out that it has made a return, and let’s just say that your weapon upgrade possibilities don’t end when the credits of the game roll. Speaking of credits, on a side note, it took around 17 hours to complete my first playthrough, while doing a moderate amount of collectible hunting throughout.

Outside of combat and platforming, there are a few other gameplay elements to Rift Apart. I particularly enjoyed Interdimensional Clank puzzles, in which Clank must use different orbs with various effects such as speed up, feather weight, heavy weight, low gravity etc. to direct a series of miniature versions of himself through platforming segments to reach an exit, eventually fixing a dimensional tear. Glitch challenges allow you to control an adorable robot called Glitch who wanders inside computers, eliminating viruses using her weaponry. Pocket Dimensions are small openings to a miniature dimension which usually rewards you with an armour piece in return for completing a short platforming challenge. There are also a few Zurkon Jr. arena challenges on offer, rewarding you with bolts and collectibles for completion.

On the topic of collectibles; Gold Bolts have returned, with twenty-five to collect throughout the game. Spybots offer pieces of a schematic which allows you to unlock the R.Y.N.O 8 weapon after collecting all ten, scattered across the galaxy. Armour is another nice collectible in the game, with each planet hosting a number of pieces for you to find. When you complete an armour set (head, torso and legs), you will also get a small stat buff, which varies from rig to rig.

If you’ve been feasting your eyes on the screenshots in the review so far, I would imagine that you’ve noticed that Rift Apart is quite the looker. In fact, I can comfortably and confidently declare that this game is the best looking game ever created, as of this moment. While playing through Rift Apart, the visual splendour on offer will take your breath away time, after time, after time. I still cannot believe the sheer level of detail present in both the models and the textures in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Without exaggerating, the game often approaches pre-rendered animated movie levels of graphical quality.

As an avid gamer, it is incredibly exciting that we are seeing games which look this magnificent so early into the new generation. If you were looking for a game to showcase what the PlayStation 5 is capable of, look no further, as Rift Apart demonstrates that with absolute clarity and is a showstopper for the platform.

Each and every planet in the game is adorned with the same remarkable attention to detail and mind-blowing geometric density as those you’re seeing the screenshots included in this article. The environmental design in this game is unsurpassed in the series, with planets feeling so alive and teeming with personality and charm. I likely spent over an hour of in-game time alone in photo mode, capturing the remarkable sights on show in every one of the worlds in Rift Apart.

Ray tracing is used for reflections throughout the game, as can be seen on Clank’s body, Ratchet and Rivet’s armour and metallic surfaces throughout the screenshots here. I would highly recommend playing the game in one of the graphical modes which retains ray tracing as, unlike in some games, it actually adds a great deal to the graphical package in Rift Apart.

Speaking of graphical modes, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart offers the same three as Insomniac’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales does; Fidelity, which is a 4K/30FPS mode with ray tracing; Performance, which is a reconstructed 4K/60FPS mode without ray tracing and with slightly reduced graphical settings and Performance RT, which is a reconstructed 4K/60FPS mode with ray tracing and the same graphical settings as Performance mode, the only difference being that the internal rendering resolution before reconstruction to 4K will land slightly lower than in Performance mode.

I played my first playthrough in Fidelity mode, as this was the only mode available at the time. However, both performance modes recently became available via a patch and I have started my Challenge Mode playthrough using Performance RT mode. Being totally honest, it is incredibly difficult to notice any difference in visual quality between Fidelity and Performance RT, even on a 65-inch 4K OLED TV, largely thanks to Insomniac’s top of the line temporal injection reconstruction method. The additional fluidity, responsiveness and cleanness of motion offered by 60FPS, however, makes Rift Apart feel almost like another game entirely.

By all means, check out all three graphical modes and make your own decision on how you want to play through the adventure, but my strong recommendation would be Performance RT mode, as any visual improvement offered by the other two modes is practically lost on me, whereas the 60FPS framerate and the ray-traced reflections are certainly not. It is exceedingly impressive that they have managed to push this level of graphical fidelity, while rendering at 60FPS with ray-traced reflections; hats off to Insomniac for what can only be described as some technical wizardry.

Let’s not neglect to mention the outstanding audio design present in Rift Apart. Enemies have more rich, emotive dialogue than ever before, with a wide array of effects to react to each individual weapon’s blow. The sound effects when you shoot a weapon are crisp, punchy and powerful, each of them also having a unique sound effect which plays when pulling it out. The 3D Audio is also shown-off to great effect; I felt real directionality and clarity in the soundstage of the game. For that reason, I would highly recommend playing the game with headphones, as you’ll be missing quite a lot of immersive capacity without doing so.

Furthermore, the soundtrack in Rift Apart is undoubtedly one of the best ever created in the Ratchet & Clank series. Each and every one of the beautifully crafted planets has its own equally marvellous melody which sets the tone perfectly as a backdrop for your annihilation; fitting the environmental design like a glove. Occasionally, I sat with the game running in the background just so I could listen to the tracks while browsing my phone. Voice acting is also top notch and Rivet’s voice actress Jennifer Hale does an absolutely splendid job of bringing her personality to life.

As if Rift Apart wasn’t already raising the bar on what the PlayStation 5 is capable of, Insomniac have decided to go the whole hog and take full advantage of the DualSense controller, as well. If there was any game which the PlayStation 5 controller was destined to be paired with, it would have been Ratchet & Clank.

Every one of the incredible weapons has a unique haptic response, really allowing you to feel the power of the weapon you’re wielding as you destroy your enemies, particularly when paired with the adaptive trigger feedback and functionality. Whether it is pitter-patter of raindrops, the thrust of power when charging your hover books, an explosive crate detonating right next to you, or your ship flying through space at high speed, the DualSense controller allows you to feel all of this, and more, directly in your hands.

While this may sound somewhat gimmicky on the surface, experiencing the haptic feedback first-hand really does demonstrate its power in adding another layer of immersion to the experience of playing. Insomniac have tied all of these aspects together in perfect harmony, creating a gripping, captivating, exhilarating experience in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

All in all, Insomniac Games have delivered the must-play PlayStation 5 experience thus far. Aside from an engrossing story, the game pushes the console hard, showcasing the power of the SSD and the immersion offered by the DualSense controller and 3D Audio; all while flaunting the best visuals that I have ever seen in a video game and elevating the gameplay, character development and environmental and weapon design of the Ratchet & Clank series to soaring new heights.

With Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sony have PlayStation 5’s first killer app. Without a doubt, this masterpiece is Insomniac Games and Ratchet & Clank at their absolute peak and is my new favourite entry in the Ratchet & Clank series.

NOTE: The screenshots included in this article are our own 4K, in-game captures using the game’s Photo Mode. Click on an image in order to see a full-screen version. Following the release of the game on June 11th, we will be running an expanded photo mode feature, with further screenshots from the game.

DISCLAIMER: This review was carried out on PlayStation 5 using review code kindly provided by the publisher, Sony Interactive Entertainment.