Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a gorgeous game. It’s the first game I’ve played since getting the new consoles that really looks and feels next-gen. The world is crammed full of objects and characters, each sporting incredible, tiny, high-quality details. And as I run by it all, shooting and jumping like a wild Lombax, I feel so guilty.
Developed by Insomniac Games, Rift Apart is the latest game in the long-running Ratchet & Clank series. Like (most) of the previous games, this one is another action-platformer featuring multiple planets, wild guns, and funny aliens and robots. As noted in our review of the game, Rift Apart doesn’t change up the classic Ratchet and Clank formula all that much, but considering how good a formula it is, I’m okay with it. And while it plays very similar to previous R&C games, it looks sooo much better. You wouldn’t think this is a problem, except that
I feel like an asshole playing through the level casually. Any time I see an eye-popping detail, I think about the hard work it must have taken to bring it to life.
For example, I was on the planet Salvali, which is huge enough to feel like an open-world level. Here, I found two robots chilling by a small lake. The robots are easy to gloss over, but if you stop to really examine them, you’ll see all sorts of wild embellishments. Scratches, dents, and more cover these bots. But the only way you can even see any of this is if you enter photo mode and zoom in.
As I was zooming in on these robots, I noticed some cups nearby. Moving the photo mode camera over to these cups I was shocked that inconsequential items were covered in dust and decals. Often, especially in older games, any item or character that isn’t part of the main quest line tends to have fewer resources devoted to it. In turn, stopping to scrutinize anything that falls outside of important items reveals a lack of depth or details. But here, thanks to the power of next-gen hardware and talented artists, that’s not the case. And again, you wouldn’t even know this unless you used photo mode.
Despite occasionally busting out photo mode I, along with most other players I’d assume, are just dashing and flying by all of this stuff. After all, the point of the game is to play it, and if you get into it, you’re probably more focused on making progress than what’s on some random cup. All of this amazing detail and hard work is just laying out in the world, with no big sign going “Hey, look at this fucking cup!” If I made that cup, I’d be posting it on Twitter. I’d be hiding arrows in the level directing players to see my awesome cup. Yet, in Rift Apart it’s just one of the thousands of tiny details you will most likely overlook and miss as you play the game.
What makes all of this more impressive is that according to Insomniac Games, this incredible level of detail was pulled off without crunching. It turns out it is possible to make a great game that looks incredible without having to tie your developers to their desks for 6 months to get a game out the door.
As I wrap up Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, I’m going to slow down a bit and explore more. I need to find all the gold bolts and other hidden collectibles after all. While completing the game’s many side activities, I’ll get to spend some extra time admiring Rift Apart’s highly detailed world. Maybe I’ll find some more cups.