Ratchet and Clank (2016) is the bright and shiny reboot/remake of a PS2 classic. Despite never having played the original, one thing I noticed immediately after booting up the game was how stunning and true to the original character designs the game was. Everything looks spectacular in Ratchet and Clank, but I use that particular adjective with purpose. At least in the first few hours I’ve played, there is a lack of exploration and depth to gameplay. That’s not to say that the game is easy by any means, on the normal setting it’s a fair difficulty for a game of its style, but it does mean the game is rather bland. Every beautiful structure lining your linear path and interesting rock pile growing into the cliff is stagnant and useless. In the first 30 minutes, I found myself floundering against invisible walls in futile attempts to explore the lush environments I’d been placed in. Eventually, you get used to those restrictions and start to understand the game’s connection to its sister movie.
I’d strongly suggest playing the original Ratchet and Clank games before starting this one just so you have an idea about all of the references that are constantly flying over my head. Fan service seems to be the name of the game, and that’s alright if you are a fan. I however, was left dead in the water by many of the gags used in the game and generally felt a bit unsettled by its writing. Even with spot-on performances from the voice cast, each line of dialogue made the lump in my throat grow a little larger. Describing exactly why I couldn’t jive with the game is a hard task. Was it the strong dissonance between its anti-corporate, peaceful, and environmentalist message and its weaponized, money flinging gameplay? Was it the stereotypical portrayal of every archetype known to man? Was it the constant, redundant quipping of Captain Qwark’s storytelling? Definitely a culmination of all of those things and more. Despite all those criticisms, there were genuine laughs to be had with Ratchet and Clank. My favorite so far is a throwaway line from a radio talk show about awful comment sections.
The music in Ratchet and Clank is necessarily stunning to hold up the weight of the off kilter story and dialogue. It’s strong display is sadly overshadowed by visual elements and thankfully overshadowed by gameplay elements. Smooth and fast action sequences dominate Ratchet and Clank, and it’s a good thing they do. All the controls move everyone’s favorite Lombax like a dream, and the camera angles will almost always have you drooling. Occasionally I’d set my camera looking too far down so that I was hurt by approaching enemies, but that was a personal mistake and easily rectified. There seem to be a variety of equally viable gameplay styles which is appreciated, but seems unimportant to overall enjoyment of the game. Perhaps selecting a strategy becomes important later in the game. The only issue I’ve had with gameplay so far is the slow paced, and far easier, ship flying segment that was shoehorned in early on and the general staleness of the whole package. Nothing miraculous, innovative, and interesting happens with Ratchet and Clank gameplay, but at this point that’s what I expected from a AAA title.
Overall, my first impressions of Ratchet and Clank are relatively positive ones. This is a standard action platformer with some 3rd person shooting and stand out graphics. The humor is hit and miss, the characters are forgettable, but the character design and voice acting is top notch. If you can get Ratchet and Clank at $12 or less, I’d recommend it based on my short stay. Just turn the voice volume off, or be prepared to cringe. You’re in for the same old ride.