IIt’s been six months since the PlayStation 5 launched, and they’re still out of stock within minutes of appearing in stores. But anyone still waiting to buy one can take comfort in knowing that there haven’t been many games yet to show off what they can do. The only one that looked surprisingly next-gen is the awesome sci-fi horror shooter Returnal, which looks like Groundhog Day on an alien planet where everything is trying to kill you.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, released on June 11, is also science fiction, but unlike Returnal, it’s more cuddly and accessible. Part of a long series about a furry, big-eared alien and his unruffled robot companion having adventures in space with an arsenal of wacky weapons, it’s made by Insomniac Games in California, the developer of the PS5 launch game. Spider-Man: Miles Morales. And like Miles Morales, it’s a bit of a technical showcase.
It looks spectacular, with teeming futuristic cities and awe-inspiring space landscapes as a backdrop for the action. It’s a cartoonish caper, featuring cute aliens, an evil robot super-villain, and a gun that temporarily turns space pirates’ enemies into topiary. It’s based on quick shots, runs and jumps, and extravagant action movie moments involving exploding spaceships, gigantic monsters, and grinding along rails and cables at intense speeds.
Ratchet & Clank has been around since 2002, starting with PlayStation 3, but Rift Apart director Mike Daly had never played it before joining Insomniac in 2012. “But that meant I had to go back and play them all. and I fell in love with them, it was great, ”he says.“ For me Ratchet & Clank is all about fun – the bright colors, the strong feedback from the shoot and the crossing, the new discoveries. Everything is just very positive and friendly, very charming. And that’s really what I expect from the players.
Rift Apart opens as a celebration of Ratchet & Clank’s heroic deeds is overrun by minions, and combat erupts on airships floating above a city full of jubilant aliens. When Ratchet begins to roam through dimensional rifts, it becomes clear that we are about to enter a very promising era for fast-paced and lavish action games. This is the sort of thing that wasn’t possible on a PlayStation 4, whose load times were often enough to make you a cup of tea between levels: it’s bright and colorful, but also hyperrealistic in its lighting. and visual effects.
It’s the PlayStation 5 controller and its haptic feedback (whimsical vibes, basically) that the development team had the most fun with, Daly says. “At the start of development, a lot of team members thought they didn’t like the vibrations of the controller, but now everyone is totally convinced… We started to experiment with how you can build different waveforms to haptic feedback in order to convey certain feel, and we’ve fine-tuned on how that can complement the audio you hear to make it really compelling. The more we explored and the better we got at creating haptic responses, the more excited I was about the extent of the game. At one point I played with it turned off and felt like it was boring. now. It’s like playing with the game muted.
Like the more recent iterations of Tomb Raider and God of War, Rift Apart takes on an old series of games that were primarily action-based and attempted to elevate the storytelling that surrounds it. Ratchet – the last remaining example of his kind, the Lombax, in his own world – meets another of his kind, Rivet, from another dimension, and the plot follows these two expressively animated characters, whose contrasts and similarities fuel the story as they leap between planets and dimensions. “Duality is a driving force,” says Daly. “Helping Rivet understand how she can learn to trust and work as a team is a central theme of the game.”
Thanks to the delayed impact of the pandemic on development, 2021 has been a slow year for video games. Ratchet & Clank is a much needed summer family blockbuster, screaming for fun (and money – cutting-edge video game development has become outrageously expensive, and Rift Apart has obviously spared no expense). This show has been on hiatus for a while, but it hasn’t lost a thing of her heart or her sense of humor.