Coming out in April, 2016 this reboot to a beloved franchise was something I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I’d never played the original, when it came out in the plethora of PlayStation 2 platforming adventure releases. Jak and Daxter, Prince of Persia, and so many others made their mark in the early to mid-2000’s, none stuck out more than the Lombax and his clunky comrade. Balancing humor with intense action, Ratchet and Clank became one of the few adventure platforming series to live past the single console generation, escaping the fate of many single generation games.
With the fourteenth installment, Insomniac Games put things in retrospect with a full on reboot, which is much more rather a re-tooling of the acclaimed series origin. Re-telling the origin of the titular characters, it tells the story of the hero-worshiping Lombax and his heterosexual life robot. The game play is spectacular, as within the first five minutes you get the crash course in a tutorial that actually progresses the story and concludes in a cutscene that is both hilarious and insightful two our two biggest personalities in the game: Ratchet and Capt. Qwark. The galactic hero sees Ratchet’s skills as being far superior to the norm and uses a long list of criminal offences to keep Ratchet from qualifying to become part of the elite Galactic Rangers.
Probably this is the scene that sold the game for me, as I wasn’t playing the goofy, lovable, hero worshiping loser. Ratchet is a hero without a cause to fight for from the beginning of the game. Not only that, but he’s a hero looking for redemption, or rather validation for what he’s done wrong. His “crimes” are clearly aimed to show his genius and ingenuity are the very traits that get him in trouble. This isn’t a story of some generic “talented” or “chosen” character who has that something special that makes the universe fall into place for him. He meets the Threshold Guardian, and when he should be let through, he instead is shoved back because his brilliance makes him dangerous. Nefarious even. Without the timely intervention of Clank’s sudden and timely arrival, who knows the path Ratchet might have gone towards.
Qwark is one of the best characters, because he is someone who has one simple objective in life: to be loved and adored. It’s wholly ironic that the thing he fears the most, is a direct correlation to his own heroics. Ratchet sees Qwark as the galaxy’s greatest hero, and does nothing but try and do everything he can to show Capt. Qwark that he’s worthy of serving under his hero. In doing so, he outshines he would be mentor, driving Qwark to the very place Ratchet had been when Qwark rejected him.
I found all of this introspective, while laughing my ass off. There are amazing moments of pure hilarity and stunning moments of brilliant humor, all weaved together with some terrific action sequences. The breadth of weapons leaves you wanting to grind out the bolts used as currency to upgrade your weapons. Usually, I find myself wanting to upgrade big damage weapons, rather than ticking dps timer weapons, but with the early upgrade to gain more bolts, I dedicated myself as a master of the Incinerator weapon, yelping for joy when it upgraded to shoot out streams of lava.
I was engaged from the get go, and for the price point of $39.99, Ratchet and Clank stands as a shining example of what I am now coining as Sony’s Year of Validation. As the most popular current generation console, the PlayStation 4 hasn’t really given the exclusives that would normally dictate the loyalty of their users. The long suffering fan base of the Walkman maker has long endured the drought that has been their list of console exclusives, which seemed to do nothing to impact their sales. Ratchet and Clank solidify a reason to buy a PS4. And for the value added, what may be considered a lean $60 game blows expectations out of the water with it’s $40 price point. Do yourself a favor, buy this game.
Pros: A wonderful game that borders on masterpiece and gives meaning to what can now be considered Sony’s Year of Validation.
Cons: Some characters felt they could have been fleshed out a little more, especially the other members of the Galactic Rangers.
Editors Note: This review was originally written in April, around when the game came out, but as stated in the Podcast there was a long period before it was ready to be edited. And boy should you be glad we did. Wasn’t pretty.