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Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart: Accessibility Review


The copy of the game used in this review was provided by the publisher at no cost to the reviewer.


Ratchet And Clank is one of those series that, though it hasn't had a major release for a few years, definitely holds a special place in the hearts of a massive audience. It might not surprise you to learn though that, much like various other series like Resident Evil and Mass Effect, I've never played an entry from this franchise. It's not that I haven't wanted to, more that it just didn't come up as a suggestion for me from the various people I'd talked to and was essentially just a name I would occasionally recall and think "would be good to play one of those at some point".

With my more recent co-operative streams including games like God Of War, Spider-Man and Horizon: Zero Dawn though, it did get me thinking about this platforming shooter combination again. However, the nature of the series would potentially mean a large time investment from whoever I could get to play through any entry with me, as well as the fact that most of the games are on older hardware.

Now, with the latest game, Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart launching exclusively on PlayStation 5 and with accessibility being something very much on the developer's minds, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to review a game from a franchise that I'd heard about for years but never been able to experience first-hand. But like all of my game reviews here, the one question still looms large: Just how playable is this game without sight and how much sighted assistance might you need, if any?

First Boot

Booting up the game presents you with the Sony Studios logo with a slight Ratchet And Clank element at the end. After that, in short order thanks to the quick loading times of the SSD, you are taken to a screen where to proceed you should "press any button".

Pressing any button produces not only a great audio cue, but accompanying haptics as well and you then are asked to select a save slot.

The menus and UI have no narration and unfortunately, they do wrap. At least the UI is loud enough that you can count how many options you've gone through, though that of course is no substitute for actual narrated navigation.

Haptics also exist as you move through various options, including when you first drop into the game's opening title screen before pressing a button. Needless to say though, this did get me interested to see what else the devs had up their sleeves and, after going through difficulty selection and getting to a screen where I could start the game or take a look around the settings, I chose the latter.

Of course, my first port of call was the accessibility menu. Even playing during my review period the accessibility options were impressive in their scope. Being able to map multiple traversal elements to a single button press by changing one setting is definitely something that could be useful to multiple gamers, including those who just might not be able to keep track of the multiple different buttons.

Though the accessibility features didn't directly reference things like navigation and traversal assistance, my sighted CoPilot and I were curious to see whether any features present might be of use, including elements like aim assist, lock-on and auto-aim, as well as simplified controls.

Starting up the game on the easiest difficulty and being presented with long cutscenes that could definitely use audio description, especially for those new to the series, though frustrating, was unsurprising. The instantaneous loading though was something to behold as, immediately after selecting to start the game, we were thrust into the bustling world with sci-fi, if cartoonish atmosphere all the way through it.

After what is essentially an opening movie establishing where we are and what's going on, we were presented with our first tutorial and objective, which involved movement.

A Note On My Reviewing Experience

Given this is a PS5-only game, it requires the use of the DualSense controller. However, as the PS5 does not currently have anything similar to the CoPilot feature on the Xbox platform, this means two methods of play have to be used in order to get the full experience with sighted assistance:
  1. Me and a second player both use the same controller, getting the full DualSense experience (i.e. adaptive triggers, haptics etc).
  2. Caveat: This is very uncomfortable and makes it difficult to control elements simultaneously
  3. Utilising the Titan 2 controller adaptor/converter from Console Tuner, we both play on separate controllers.
  4. Caveat: This completely removes key features of the DualSense experience, namely haptics and adaptive triggers, but is far more comfortable and allows for quicker progression

Through the vast majority of this review, I was utilising the latter method, even if it meant sacrificing selling points of both the console and the game itself. Consequently, I cannot fully speak to the haptic and adaptive trigger experience. I hope circumstances change in the future to allow gamers without sight to fully enjoy the benefits of the DualSense with games that are fully accessible.

Sound Design And Voice Acting

The footsteps heard as we started to move were clear and fit well with the surroundings and, as we learned how to utilise melee attacks and pick up things like bolts and ammo, nothing felt out of place. Particularly of note though were the small sounds that played out of the DualSense's speaker whenever we walked over bolts, allowing me the satisfaction of knowing we'd picked them up without needing to clarify with sighted assistance.

Speaking of melee though, the impacts both to enemies and crates are satisfying, with the voice acting definitely helping to add weight to that every impact. Even throwing the wrench felt smooth and the haptic sensation supplied by the DualSense was unexpected, but perfectly fit the feel of the attack itself.

If nothing else, this game is a clear showcase of next generation audio. Everything is clear and crisp, with enemies having distinct hitmarkers, the characters being easily identifiable and guns (regardless of the lack of adaptive triggers and haptics) sounding suitably sci-fi and rather cartoon-like.

Being able to tell what gun you're using, especially when switching between them on the fly is also a useful positive of this, as well as knowing when you've run out of ammo. All of these audio cues fit well into the world that has been created here and, from moment to moment, it's easy to tell what's happening, or at least have an educated guess.


Given the number of times I've mentioned sighted assistance so far, it's probably easy for you to determine that, at the current time, there is no way to easily navigate without vision. Hopefully, this can be updated in future, as I'm aware that I and others have recommended narrated menus and navigation and traversal to Insomniac Games to look into for both current and future projects.

Playing both with and without the use of haptics made it seem like, at least in the opening segment of the game that we tested repeatedly, the feedback wasn't quite being used for gameplay-centric purposes but more just for immersion. That being said, what haptics there were gave the impression of additional impact or vibration where needed, such as when smashing crates or hovering/moving.

Adaptive triggers only really come into play when you start using guns that work truly differently with an alt fire-style mechanism. Being able to choose how your gun fires definitely makes you feel more powerful, as does something else that might be overlooked by most: weapon slots.

Weapon Slots

Most games that have multiple guns assign them to various positions on a weapon wheel, think Horizon: Zero Dawn or Doom Eternal for relatively recent examples. However, Rift Apart takes a really interesting approach. When pressing or holding Y to bring up your weapon selection, as you gain guns you can switch between them with a simple DPad press. Granted we didn't get to the point where you had 5 tools or more to see how you actually assign them in the first place or change out your less useful guns for one of your choosing. Suffice it to say being able to switch as soon as you want to change strategy makes me wish that other game designers had realised how useful this concept would be as well. Having the ability to change guns without using a wheel that can be far too sensitive and usually not provide haptic feedback for when you move over weapons is a fantastic element that other games can most certainly learn from.

Aim Assist

Being able to hit your targets in a game with guns is just as important as, say, being able to navigate without sighted assistance when you're on your own and trying to progress through a game. As much as Rift Apart does have aim assists of varying flavours, including auto-aim and lock-on, neither of these seemed to necessarily be that consistent. Sometimes it would rotate me directly towards an enemy when I started firing, other times I'd be firing up in the air at a target that I couldn't hit. Hopefully this can be polished as time goes on to make it as fluid an experience as possible and give gamers without sight agency in combat encounters.

Also of note is the fact that, even though we'd selected simplified controls which maps a lot of traversal options to the circle button, the prompts still displayed L1 for the tether shot, as if nothing had changed. Hopefully this can be resolved, so that gamers using this feature won't encounter additional confusion.

Finally, the look at waypoint function, which orients your camera towards your current objective, does just that, with one key flaw at present; it attempts to navigate you through solid geometry (like unopenable doors) to get you to where you need to be, much like Gears Of War's points of interest feature all the way back in 2006. Hopefully this can be resolved as, if it were, it would make it far easier for a gamer without sight to navigate, even if it just allowed for completion of the main story beats.

Characters And Events

Given my sighted CoPilot had no experience with the series just like me, we did have a few issues in terms of knowing the significance of characters or spotting any references to prior events in the franchise's deep history.

That being said, we had an enjoyable time with the game so far and I look forward to playing more when I get the chance.





If you have a PS5 and have sighted assistance, as well as being interested in a cartoony but enjoyable experience, what I've played of Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart would certainly be for you. Even if you don't have a PS5 or the necessary sighted assistance, I definitely think this game is worth watching, as its cinematic trappings certainly make it movie-like enough that it's going to be interesting to see just where the reality-travelling story goes from its action-packed opening.

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