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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back to the main reviews, guides and articles page