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Review: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart might be best played on the Steam Deck

If you're not against sacrificing a bit of fidelity in exchange for some portable fun, that is

I’ve owned a Steam Deck for just over a year now, but I’m going to be honest: I’ve barely played anything on it. As it turns out, if you prefer to play a game with a controller and have access to all major platforms, the Steam Deck tends to take a backseat. I’m a sedentary gamer, I sit on the sofa and play games with a controller, and my PC is usually exclusive to work, I rarely take time to actually boot up Steam for a bit of fun and games.

But I love the Nintendo Switch. Being able to curl up into a posturally abhorrent position with a handheld game that offers a premium experience is lovely, and that’s essentially the whole pitch of the Steam Deck. This is a gaming PC in a handheld form factor, and allows you to take a majority of PC games away from your desk and into the hole that’s ruining your back.

Ratchet shooting at enemies with the Blackhole Storm in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PC

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is out for PC now and it's the perfect excuse to pick up your Steam Deck.

All I needed was a good excuse to take my Steam Deck into the well-worn crevice on my sofa that I adore so much, and Ratchet & Clank was the perfect opportunity. Rift Apart recently released on Steam, and while the PS5 version would’ve likely offered the intended experience, I’m not against sacrificing a bit of fidelity in exchange for some portable fun.

With some smart tweaks to the in-game settings (everything on Low save for Texture Quality, which you can put on Medium, essentially), you can do a good job of capping to 30fps for the vast majority of gameplay, though I did attempt to go for 45fps – and failed to hit that target in most outdoor areas.

It’s very playable, and aside from a very odd gyro control sensitivity decision (which you can disable through the Steam controller settings, not in-game), it felt like it just worked, instantly. A nice change of pace from a few recent and classic releases alike which tend to make text illegible or the UI difficult to read.

AMD’s FSR tech is in place to make up for where resolution is sacrificed for fluidity, and sometimes that means it takes a split second to clean up text elements, and it can make the outlines of our furry protagonists look a bit fuzzy and dithered. It’s nitpicking territory though, as Rift Apart is explosive, with particle effects and tiny items scattering and flying around the world as you do battle – you’ll be hard-pressed to pick out pixel frustrations in the heat of action, and that’s also when performance matters most.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart showing

Rivet is a new Lombax protag you get to play as in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

If I desperately want a premium experience I can always hop onto my PC, and churn out more frames with DLSS – and I certainly did just to see how good it looked – but the Steam Deck was more than performant enough and allowed me to dip in and out of the game’s missions, regardless of where I was sat and which room I was in.

But that’s enough evangelizing about the Steam Deck like I just discovered the ability to dock and undock my Switch for the first time – this is about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, after all. It’s an action platformer where you’ll be wall-running and dashing through stages, all while blasting a variety of explosive weapons at chunky foes. On the default difficulty, enemies go down at a decent pace, making each of your weapon upgrades feel impactful and meaningful as you level up.

The game swaps between sequences as both Ratchet and Rivet, the pair of Lombax protagonists, and in certain segments you can choose which story you’d prefer to follow before the two converge. The premise is simple: the events of the previous game have made the titular duo heroes, and Clank provides a Dimensionator as a gift – a gun that allows you to traverse dimensions. Of course, that quickly gets snagged by Dr. Nefarious, and before you know it dimensions are coming apart at the seams, and only a new Dimensionator can fix things.

Dr. Nefarious in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Dr. Nefarious with the Dimensionator in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PC.

This takes the core cast on a journey across the galaxy to dystopian space stations, broken-down research labs, and alien worlds. It’s a great adventure with varied locales, which makes decent use of the dimensional theme. Some stages can actively have you swapping between two or more dimensions to solve puzzles, similar to Titanfall 2’s most iconic level. Even some weapons play with the theme, with the Pixelizer converting enemies into 2D sprite art. Well, they’re technically voxels, but they’re still “flat” and look shockingly good in motion. Even with all of this action, it remains perfectly playable on Steam Deck, which is as good a recommendation as I can give it.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a brilliantly made action platformer. The action is as solid as the platforming, and it all comes together cohesively. It doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but solid level design and varied gameplay between levels keep things feeling fresh. Combine that with the solid gameplay mechanics, and you have yourself a winner. Rift Apart isn’t going to blow anybody away, but when a game is this well-made, you can’t help but play with a smile on your face.

Score: 8/10

  • Story: 6/10
  • Visuals: 9/10
  • Audio: 7/10
  • Gameplay: 8/10

Platform: PC

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart technical breakdown

If you’re playing on a reasonably modern PC and have Nvidia DLSS support, then it’s unlikely you’ll come across many performance problems while aiming for 60fps in Rift Apart, and if you’ve got a beefier rig, then you can feel free to aim for higher resolutions and framerates. Despite the highs it can reach though, it’s perfectly playable on Steam Deck if you aim for 30fps and are okay with Low-to-Medium settings – which is a testament to how well the artwork scales, honestly.

Rift Apart has had a few crashes on Steam Deck, my primary PC, and a colleague’s ROG Ally unit, even after a recent patch, but stability has already become smoother in the days since release. Plus, regular autosaves haven’t made crashes too frustrating. As long as you can beat the fairly modest system requirements, you’ll have an excellent time playing Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.