’Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’ Ending Opens Up Whole New Worlds of Possibilities
By Dave Trumbore
Published Jun 26, 2021
Sometimes you have to break a few dimensions to set things right.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart may just be the best game since the Insomniac original that started it all back in 2002. In fact, it could be argued that the 2021 release and PS5 exclusive is the best of the bunch overall, even surpassing the first game and its more recent remake. Wherever you land on that debate, one thing is clear: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart delivers a solid story that pays homage to the original title team while opening up bold new possibilities for the future of the franchise.
To see where the Ratchet & Clank title has come from, you have only to play the latest game (or all 16 games in the series if you have the time.) To look forward, however, you have to at least finish Rift Apart to see how the future of the franchise and its expanded cast of characters can evolve from here. That’s what we’ll be talking about today. And to do so, we’ll necessarily need to delve into some spoilers. So if you haven’t finished the “Game of the Year” contender yet, best do so now before reading any further.
Spoilers AheadRELATED: ‘Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart’ Review: The Wrench-and-Robot Duo Has Never Looked So Good
The overall plot of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart isn’t all that complicated and is actually quite easy to follow, especially if you’ve played the first game. Why? Because it’s partially a celebration of the title team’s meet-cute and worlds-saving adventures, and it’s partially a revisit of that story with the alternate version of the team: Rivet & Kit. And while the game starts you off by following in the footsteps of Rivet, a masked female Lombax leading a rebellion against her universe’s Emperor Nefarious, it’s not until our own familiar version of the perennial antagonist shatters the borders between dimensions that we get the possibility for crossovers.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart only gives over control of the action once the title team prepares to enjoy a lavish celebration in their heroic honor. This lovely and nostalgic (and surprisingly action-packed) tutorial sequence acts as a quick catch-up for the story so far: how they met, how they fought, and how they saved the day again and again. Those festivities are, of course, interrupted by the rather goofy anti-biotic and fully robotic Dr. Nefarious, who steals the reconstructed Dimensionator in an attempt to find the one dimension where he always wins. He finds it, in a manner of speaking, but manages to disrupt all the borders between dimensions in the process, throwing all of reality into chaos and allowing heroes and villains alike to slip between worlds through rifts. That’s how Ratchet and Clank not only get separated but how Clank loses his arm.
Image via Insomniac Games
That loss will come into play throughout the game in a running theme that focuses on feeling broken and finding your way toward becoming whole, whether that’s through trusting in your own strengths or trusting others not to exploit your own vulnerabilities. Our pals Ratchet and Clank have gone through this a number of times over the many games in the franchise, often being separated physically or philosophically, only to reunite before the end again and again. So this time, we get a change-up in the pairings: Rivet finds Clank, and Ratchet finds KT-7461, a.k.a. Kit.
The brilliance of this switch-up is that the veteran teammates — Ratchet and Clank — can help the damaged and solo heroes — Rivet and Kit — learn to trust others and work alongside them. Our two newcomers will get to meet, greet, and team up about two-thirds of the way through the story, but if you think it’s smooth sailing for the new duo from there on out, think again. Tragedies from their respective pasts are revealed, and the surprisingly intertwined destinies of both Rivet and Kit, once known, might prevent them from ever working together again.
It turns out that Rivet lost her arm to damage from a security bot while she was out battling Nefarious’ forces one night. It’s thanks to her prosthetic (and badass) arm that she’s able to form a rapport with the newly one-armed Clank, as well as the giant, depressed robot known as the Fixer, who’s a key part of the team’s plan to defeat Nefarious and restore reality. However, once it’s revealed that Kit, a warbot in the employ of Emperor Nefarious, was actually the one who shot Rivet and cost her her arm … well the physical wound may have healed but the psychological one is torn open all over again. How could these two disparate characters ever reconcile in the hopes of working together to save the universe?
Image via Insomniac Games
Normally, games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart would simply force these two characters into combat together, forging an alliances in the trenches, the crucible, the acid-swamps of a hostile planet, what have you. That would be more than enough for Rivet and Kit to overcome their differences and fight side by side for a better tomorrow. Rfit Apart does indeed do the first part of this equation, taking our fearsome foursome on a worlds-tour and having them battle against all sorts of robotic forces in the run-up to the thrilling conclusion. But it’s the second part that sets Rift Apart, well… apart. Despite rescuing our title heroes and even uniting all of the many worlds’ biological lifeforms and rebellious robot upstarts against Emperor and Dr. Nefarious, Rivet and Kit remains at odds; the former is willing to keep going it alone, while the latter, thinking herself well and truly broken (which broke me in the process), opts to go back into obscurity to keep everyone safe from her. It’s heartbreaking all around.
Except, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart isn’t going to let that rift stand much longer. While three-quarters of our heroes lead the final fight of the Organics vs the Robotics, including a thrilling takedown of a giant mech, the whole game comes down to Rivet vs the entire remaining forces of her lifelong nemesis, Emperor Nefarious. When faced with insurmountable odds and uncountable enemies surrounding her from all sides, what’s a lone Lombax hero to do?
Luckily, for Rivet, the narrative, and my sappy heart, Kit comes roaring in to the rescue, guns blazing in full warbot form, but now fully in control of herself. Emperor Nefarious even recognizes her, much as he is afraid to admit it. Together, Rivet & Kit finally defeat Emperor Nefarious for good (or until the next game). Soon afterwards, Ratchet may be the one to open the portal to send the Emperor packing, and Clank may clang the bell to summon a kraken to drag Nefarious off into said portal, but it’s Dr. Nefarious who does the final deed to banish the Emperor to his fate … just before the not-so-good doctor is crushed under the crumbling mech (in hilarious fashion.)
A classic ending for a pretty straightforward heroes’ tale, with a few twists here and there. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart pulls on the heartstrings just enough to get you invested in both team-ups. That’s a wise move. Not only does it harken back to the original team, it paves the way for what’s to come.
At the end of the game and over its credits, we see the tenuous alliance holding. Pirates, Goons, Morts, and all manner of alien races are busy cleaning up the mess left by Emperor Nefarious’ rule and Dr. Nefarious’ meddling. Portals between dimensions still exist, but they’re more stable now, more easily controlled with the repaired Dimensionator. But while multiple realities are putting their lives back together, Ratchet & Clank & Rivet & Kit are gearing up for an all-new adventure (after a lovely picnic, that is.)
We’ve yet to see our Lombax heroes uncover the full story of their species, their technology, their part to play in the wider story of the galaxy. Some lore (or Lorb) drops in Rift Apart tell of the presumed Lombax pair Mags and Kaden, the former who mapped various dimensions using the Dimensionator previously wielded by the latter. And Kaden also happens to be, wait for it, Ratchet’s father.
While the elder Lombax’s past is a rather tragic and violent one, perhaps the existence of multiple dimensions will help to smooth over the rougher parts of that story where Ratchet is concerned. We’ll hopefully learn more about Ratchet and his people, but also Rivet and hers, and where the two dimensional realities converge and diverge.
There will undoubtedly be a follow-up game to this one, though just when we can expect to play it remains to be seen. Both Ratchet and Rivet seem keen to get to know each other better and to find what happened to the rest of their species. So with robot pals in tow and a functional Dimensionator and map at their disposal, there’s no reason the next game shouldn’t be absolutely packed to the gills with Lombaxes (Lombaxi?) Whether it’s DLC or a full standalone title, the next adventure in the franchise can’t come soon enough.
KEEP READING: ‘Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’ Trailer Introduces New Playable Character, Rivet
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Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart
About The Author
(9246 Articles Published)
Senior Editor – Games | Former Editor of Animation, Streaming Content |Author of “The Science of Breaking Bad” from MIT Press | Twitch Affiliate: twitch.tv/drclawmd | Co-host of the Saturday Mourning Cartoons podcast | Community manager for Ironface Studios | Former science freelance writer for Nerdist.com |
From Dave Trumbore
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