Rift Apart: Why Do Ratchet and Clank Keep Getting Separated? - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Rift Apart: Why Do Ratchet and Clank Keep Getting Separated?

There have been a great many iconic duos in PlayStation’s history. Jak and Daxter. Drake and Sully. Joel and Ellie. Among these iconic characters is one duo who has stood the test of time throughout multiple generations of gaming: Ratchet and Clank.

Originally making their debut on the PlayStation 2 in 2002 with their first game, Ratchet & Clank, the duo have gone on to become a staple franchise of PlayStation Studios. Now spanning 14 games and 4 different console generations, Ratchet and Clank have quite a varied history together. As surprising as it may be, they have more often than not spent a lot of that time apart rather than together. Their latest (and first PS5) adventure, Rift Apart, even has their separation as one of the focal points of the story. So what is it about separating Ratchet and Clank that Insomniac Games seems to enjoy so much?

To understand their separation better, one must look back at the Ratchet and Clank games to see how it happens in order to get an understanding of why it happens. More importantly, that also reveals who the inevitable reunion is important to: the player, of course, and to Ratchet and Clank themselves.

Spoilers Ahead

RELATED: 'Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart' Review: The Wrench-and-Robot Duo Has Never Looked So Good

Ratchet & Clank (2002)

The first installment in the series saw Ratchet and Clank meeting for the first time and staying together for the majority of the game. However, there are some small occasions in the story which require the player to control Clank, who is provided with different move sets and traversal than that of Ratchet. This was more than likely done to diversify the gameplay.

Whether it be an inhospitable planet for organic lifeforms, or to investigate certain other parts of levels Ratchet can’t reach, there are small moments in the game in which they are indeed separated. However, their separation in this game is something that is more emotional than it is physical. The two seem to be at odds with each other the most in this game, being sometimes antagonistic towards each other with plenty of banter. All the better when they officially team up at the end.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (2003)

It didn’t take long for the series to separate Ratchet & Clank for more than gameplay purposes.

A plot point in Going Commando has Clank kidnapped and in need of rescue by Ratchet. This sets a precedent for a recurring pattern in future games which involve either of our title characters being separated and having to save the other from certain peril. However, in this specific game it doesn’t take long for players, as Ratchet, to save and reunite with Clank. Going Commando has the duo together for the remainder of the game. However brief their separation may have been in this game, it still was able to show the narrative potential in separating the characters while deepening the bond between the title duo.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004)

This entry in the franchise has one of the more interesting methods of separating the duo. This time around, Ratchet and Clank are separated when Dr. Nefarious kidnaps Clank. When doing so, Nefarious also happens to plant a decoy, a doppelgänger of sorts to Clank, aptly named Klunk. The player has the exact same controls when playing with Klunk rather than Clank, so there isn’t any change gameplay-wise from this separation.

However, there are some oddly hilarious story beats that come from this would-be-Clank and his interactions with Ratchet and their crew. One of the bigger moments comes in a cutscene at the end of mission, which finds Klunk leaving Qwark to die on an exploding ship, much to Ratchet’s dismay. This sort of character interaction is not one you typically get in Ratchet & Clank games. Although the gameplay stays exactly the same whether it is Clank or Klunk, there is still the dynamic between Ratchet and Clank that is missing. From morally ambiguous decisions to a more sinister undertone in performance from Clank/Klunk’s voice actor, there is a clear difference between the two characters storywise. It all comes to a head in the penultimate act of the game, which finds Ratchet fighting Klunk and freeing Clank so they can reunite and stop Dr. Nefarious.

Ratchet: Deadlocked (2005)

The title for this game should be the biggest indication of the drastic turn in direction for the series. With Clank stripped from the title, Ratchet: Deadlocked finds Ratchet all on his own, with Clank merely in a “mission control” type role giving the player advice throughout the game.

Taking Clank out of the action also takes away some of the more lighthearted tones of the previous game. This is the first game in the series to have a ’T’ for teen rating as well. Clank's relative absence and the overall darker tones of the game have some correlation with one another. If anything, it’s an indication that cutting the title team in half can lead to an entirely different tone than expected of the franchise.

RELATED: 'Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart' Ending Opens Up Whole New Worlds of Possibilities

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (2007)

While Ratchet and Clank are together for the entirety of this game, the ending is one of the most important and sets up a true test of their friendship. Tools of Destruction follows Ratchet and Clank as they seek to discover the past of Ratchet’s seemingly extinct race, the Lombax. Throughout the game Clank has his own gameplay moments in which the player uses new time-control mechanics, being able to slow down time to solve puzzles. It’s in these sequences that Clank comes into contact with the Zoni, a seemingly invisible race that Clank can see and who claim to know a key secret to his past.

It’s with these segments that the game introduces more complex and intricate character development for Clank. Given more backstory, Clank is allowed to grow as a character outside of his relationship with Ratchet. This culminates in their separation at the end of the game, in which the Zoni take Clank away from Ratchet, seemingly separating them for good. While the separation in this entry serves as cliffhanger ending to the main campaign rather than an obstacle to overcome in the middle of the game, it is nonetheless impactful. This is also the most shocking of the separations because, unlike the other entries in which Ratchet and Clank are reunited, this ends on a more ominous note.

Secret Agent Clank (2008)

Although this isn’t a main series title, Secret Agent Clank deserves to be brought up since Ratchet’s technical “solo” title was also mentioned. Secret Agent Clank is a PSP title that has Clank as the main focus, with brief sections of the game including Captain Qwark and Ratchet as playable characters. Clank, on the other hand has similar gameplay to Ratchet in the older games. Clank has, for the first time, a variety of weapons and gadgets to use throughout the game.

From a narrative standpoint, watching Ratchet be the one to rely on Clank for the majority of the game made for a breath of fresh air in the franchise. More importantly, Clank as a character got even more time to shine, not only with new gameplay mechanics but in the humor and heart players have come to expect from other entries in the franchise.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (2009)

After the cliffhanger ending of Tools of Destruction, Ratchet found himself on a mission to find Clank and “save” him from the Zoni who had taken Clank to his true purpose at the end of the previous game. In A Crack in Time, Ratchet and Clank are separated for a large portion of this game, each having their own dedicated storylines that eventually intertwine in the climax of the game. If any game has the most important separation in Ratchet & Clank’s gaming history, it is this title.

A Crack in Time explores the past lives of both of our title characters. In doing so, Ratchet and Clank use their time apart to relfect on themselves and what their future holds (timely for a game with the word Future in the game title), whether that be together or separate. Ratchet bonds with an older Lombax named Alister who was friends with his father, while Clank learns his purpose as caretaker of the Great Clock. These explorations of themselves lead to a melancholic reunion, one different from any other entry in this series. What started off as a desperate mission to rescue Clank ends with the two unsure of their future together as partners.

Clank comes to the conclusion that his place is as caretaker in the Great Clock, which players experienced when playing as him throughout the game. Ratchet understands and accepts, albeit begrudgingly. Their separation in this game has presumably lead to a brief reunion followed by a permanent separation coming at the end of the game. However, these assumptions come to a halt when Ratchet is betrayed and killed by Alister, in an attempt to rescue the Lombax race at the cost of all of reality. This is undone by Clank going back in time, and at the end of it all Ratchet's untimely death is averted and reality is saved. This brief moment of tragedy Clank experinces, however, is more than enough to lead him to stay with Ratchet after all. While their separation in A Crack in Time led to Clank considering staying where he was, it's Ratchet's death in their reunion that makes him ultimately realize his true place: at Ratchet's side as his partner through thick and thin.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (2021)

After seemingly going through the ultimate test of partnership and friendship in A Crack in Time, we now come to the present. In the latest PS5 exclusive, Rift Apart, Clank teams up with an interdimensional Ratchet counterpart named Rivet, while Ratchet looks to reunite with Clank and save all of reality. If anything, Rift Apart only cements what A Crack in Time had done before it.

All the games before this have lead up to Ratchet & Clank being closer to each other than ever before. Going from begruding respect to defying time itself to save one another, Ratchet and Clank have come a long way. Now, further apart then ever before, Ratchet and Clank must reunite again to save all of reality from collapsing. Add in a Ratchet counterpart in Rivet [Editor's note: and many other character counterparts along the way] and you have the makings of another compelling separation.

From the original game to Rift Apart, Ratchet and Clank have overcome so many instances of being torn apart only to develop a stronger bond and in turn provide players with new gameplay experiences. Whether playing as Ratchet without Clank or vice versa, their separation in their franchise history has not only made their stories more comeplling, but also provided developer Insominac Games with the oppurtunity to creat more diversified gameplay for an overall richer video game experience.

KEEP READING: ‘Fall Guys’ Teams Up With ‘Ratchet and Clank’ for New Cross-Dimensional Costumes



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