Welcome to our Gameluster Top 10 of 2021! After our deliberations on the Game Busters Podcast, we’ve settled on an unranked list of the top 10 best games of the year. Each of these will be a short write-up on why our team is so passionate about these games, so stay tuned!
In a year that saw the likes of Astro’s Playroom and It Takes Two, Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart stands tall as one of the most unabashedly fun games of 2021. That’s not to say fun was restricted to the more lighthearted fare this year. Persona 5 Strikers is frantic hype with a side of acid jazz; Deathloop presents the best murder puzzle in years; Returnal induced the ever lampooned “flow state” in me more than once. Yet, Ratchet left a greater impression on me than any of these games. With Rift Apart, Insomniac Games takes their existing formula for the series, and iterates on it to near perfection.
The game’s main narrative is heartwarming, if a little self-congratulatory. Rivet and Kit add endearing new personalities to the universe, with a backstory dramatic enough to rival a number of anime. Our titular duo’s arc is one that touches on issues of identity and self-worth, all the while hinting at more to come. The humour is wonderfully witty, and Clank even gets to swear. In short, it’s a worthy successor to the Future trilogy of the PS3 era, continuing its themes while going further beyond.
The core gameplay loop of Rift Apart is at once both familiar and fresh. The usual fare of platforming, acrobatic gunplay, and puzzle solving is present. Ratchet himself, however, feels better than ever before. The addition of the phantom dash brings a welcome momentum boost to the game, echoing the arachnid fluidity of Insomniac’s more recent adventures. Rifts add a new dimension (not sorry) to combat and traversal. Grind rails and hookshot swings feel amazing as ever. Where the innovations really shine, however, is with the guns.
Ratchet’s arsenal this time around features a number of recognisable weapons, each with some fun twist. With the Dualsense controller, though, they’re elevated to a whole new level. Adaptive triggers and enhanced haptics offer a world of sensory possibilities, and Insomniac takes full advantage of this. The Lightning Rod’s rapid rate of fire is brought to life as the R2 trigger pulsates under my finger as I shoot. The 3D Audio soundscapes bring planets to life, no sound escaping my ears as I explore. Subtle differences in rumble are felt as I walk across shiny spaceports and jam-packed jungles. With its use of new audiovisual tech, Rift Apart is a lovingly woven blanket, welcoming you into its immersive embrace.
As I flipped, double jumped, and blasted my way through every encounter, I grew only more enamoured with Insomniac’s latest adventure. The fun didn’t stop, and it felt better than it ever has. The PS5 has arrived, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is its herald.