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The RPS Advent Calendar 2023, December 7th

The question isn't where, but when - but also where, to be honest.

A close up of Horace the Endless Bear looking at a big pile of presents with his name on, next to a plate of cookies with a glass of milk. It's the 2023 RPS Advent Calendar!
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

This door on the RPS Advent Calendar is in fact not a door, but a portal. It could go anywhere - including nostalgia land.

Say hello again to some old friends in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart!

Rivet strikes a robot pirate - temporarily turned into topiary - with her hammer in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Sony Interactive Entertainment

James: I’m absolutely down with the whole C.S. Lewis, put-away-fear-of-childishness thing, but it’s also nice when something childish seems to grow up alongside you. Thus we have Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – whose origins trace back to a 2002 PS2 game with an arse crack joke in the first 30 minutes – rocking up on PC with not just with prettier visuals and more electric shooting, but with honest-to-goodness themes and character work. A mascot platformer with something to say? Blimey.

Not like this is The Last Of Clank or anything. Rift Apart is still funny, and silly, and has weapons that turn bad guys into topiary or shoot burrowing rocket-drills that bark like dogs. But it also delves into the thoughts and fears of its leading cast in a way that Ratchet games seldom bother with, successfully planting a more compelling impetus behind its planet-hopping than just trying new flavours of sci-fi battlefield. It’s fitting, too, that the most common thread between these characters is a resistance to change. Perhaps that’s something that developers Insomniac may have felt back when this was an annual series, and have – given Rift Apart’s more mature tone, new protagonists, and more freely roamable planets – since overcome.

Happily, it’s still a corker of a shooter, always eager to fill your screen with oversized plasma blasts, shattered scenery, and detonating cyborg battlesuits. I don’t actually think the wacky gun arsenal is Insomniac’s best, but all of them are satisfying to deploy, and their niches are sufficiently focused to encourage regular switching during big fights. I love the emphasis on mobility, as well. Between the heavily advertised rift-jumping and a more bread-and-butter dash move, nimbleness has never been more vital or rewarding.

Ratchet and Clank fall through a massive dimensional rift in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
Ratchet grapple-hooks onto a flying platform during a parade in his honour, during the prologue of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Sony Interactive Entertainment

You may well be solely of the PC mind, in which case I appreciate that all these comparisons to years-old PlayStation games may be lacking in meaning. But even then, it’s good news: the first Ratchet & Clank game with a proper Windows port is probably the best one in the entire series. Well played, old friend.

Alice Bee: Nostalgia got me in a choke hold with this one. The original Ratchet & Clank came out when I was 12 and me and my younger brother absolutely rinsed it on the PS2. Imagine my delight when the opening level of Rift Apart is a parade that recreates key moments from that game? You can't. My delight was too great. Rift apart has so many old favourite characters showing up again, it's like your year 8 birthday party except people actually came this time. And they had lasers! But James is correct that Rift Apart has a more mature tone, so ven if you have never picked up a Ratchet & Clank game before, Rift Apart is a rip-roarin' good time. It's the kind of sci-fi bullshit you'd get in a Marvel Disney+ TV show, but better at both the sci-fi and the bullshit, and the charm.

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The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.

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