Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PC Review - Amazing Adventure, Acceptable Port
Here we go again. Another Sony first-party title making its way to PC a few years after its initial PlayStation release. This time it is the ever-enjoyable duo of Ratchet & Clank. A smart move by Sony, if I am honest. If there is one genre of games the PC seems to be lacking in, it is this sort of high-quality family-friendly adventure. However, the biggest question remains, how will it port over? After the excellent port of Returnal, I thought Sony was finally getting their head around what PC gamers expect, but I was proven wrong shortly thereafter with the absolutely abysmal port of The Last of Us: Part 1. This was a port so bad I couldn’t actually get it running long enough to review it. So where does A Rift Apart sit on the scale of Sony PC ports? Is it Returnal or is sitting in the same realm as Joel and Ellie? The truth is, it feels like it is comfortably nestled between the two.
I am not going to spend too much time talking about the game itself. Nothing has really changed since Paul reviewed it upon its Playstation 5 release. It is still a grand adventure that is frankly the gold standard for this sort of game on the market. Everything has translated to PC, the humour, the look and the genuinely engaging story. The time since release hasn’t taken the shine off any element of the game. Insomniac really does know their stuff. If you never played the game before, know you are getting a fantastic experience and, for the most part, the PC port doesn’t get in the way of that.
There are a few caveats to that though. The first should be no surprise. Don’t try to play this game on anything but a reasonably new SSD drive. Just don’t. The specs say you can run the game on a normal mechanical HDD, which is technically true, but the experience is woeful. Even my SteamDeck’s SD card wasn’t quick enough for the game’s signature realm swapping. Simply put, don’t buy unless you have an SSD (which, to be fair, at this point in time, most people would.) You will be tragically disappointed if you try to run the game on anything else.
On a decent desktop PC the game runs really well. It was a stunning game on the PS5 and it is just as stunning on PC. The art style is a thing of beauty and it has one of the best implementations of RTX out there. There are some oddities here that PC gamers will likely be annoyed at though. For starters there is a launcher to the game. What’s more, the launcher is completely superfluous to the experience, it is just an extra step into getting into the game. Thankfully the launcher can be turned off without resorting to command line edits (I’m looking at you 2K) so it isn’t a massive deal. The other really annoying thing is that when fiddling with the graphical settings, you don’t see the changes you are making in action. It is in a separate menu, so there is a lot of unnecessary jumping in and out to get things right. Finally, there is no benchmarking tool. Sure this is never a certainty in any PC game, but it is always something that I appreciate when it turns up and in a game like this, I feel like it would be super beneficial for people to get the best out of their experience.
None of these sins are unforgiveable, they are more slight annoyances, but they do show that Sony is still struggling with the concept of PC gaming in general. The hit and miss nature of their ports so far is proof positive that the company is probably looking at this trend as a money-making opportunity first and giving players solid performance second. I understand that thinking, but don’t agree with it, especially when on the PS5 they have such a good reputation for giving their players the best possible experience they can. It screams that the people in charge over at Playstation really see PC players as a group that doesn’t deserve the effort that their primary crowd does, which is disappointing to a lot of us.
Another thing worth mentioning is that despite being SteamDeck certified, it is a less-than-ideal way to play Ratchet & Clank. Getting a consistent framerate that is better than 30fps is a struggle even at the lowest settings. The ROG Ally performs a little better, but not much, though I feel there is room here for improvement because the Ally’s graphics driver hasn’t been updated to support the game yet so there is every chance that performance will improve greatly. What this leads to is if a portable gaming PC is your only option for the game, I would probably hold off for some optimisation to occur. This is a shame because it would be the perfect game to take on the go when travelling or commuting.
The final super odd thing I came across was compatibility with the Xbox Game Bar. Now I want to stress, I am not prescribing any sort of conspiracy theory here, this is more than likely just the result of some sort of clashing process, but I couldn’t use the Xbox game bar without crashing the game. I use the game bar when reviewing for screenshots and to get system metrics at the press of a button, it is super handy, but every time I did with Ratchet & Clank it would either tank the game or crash it completely. This was on my Desktop PC, my Laptop and my ROG Ally so it isn’t just tied to one system. I expect this will be resolved soon, but it is certainly an odd look.
Quirks and oddities aside, the Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PC still does what it says on the box, giving players a working version of one of (in my humble opinion) Playstation’s best titles. The game is sublime and, if you have the rig, it runs well on the PC. It just has a host of small niggles and irritating problems surrounding it that are not an indictment on the game at all, just an indication that Sony still doesn’t get PC games. As a result, the PS5 version is still the best one available as of right now, though that may change as the game is inevitably patched to solve a few of these issues. Still, if you don’t have a PS5 and you want to play this amazing game, it could be worse… there is always The Last of Us as proof of that.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Playstation Australia