April’s Game of the Month is a game no one asked for, but everyone’s talking about. It’s the fantastic game based on the lackluster movie based on the 14 year old game: Ratchet & Clank!
Let’s get it out of the way: this game is pretty. Real pretty. It may very well be the best looking PS4 game this side of the upcoming Uncharted 4. From straight up fidelity to the vibrant art direction to the fluid, beautiful animations, it’s very easy on the eyes. But while they certainly don’t hurt, looks alone are not the reason why we’re writing about this game instead of Dark Souls III.
We went into this game expecting to take a trip back to our childhoods. We went in hoping for nostalgia. So it surprised us to discover just how contemporary this game feels. Ratchet & Clank didn’t pull us back in time so much as it firmly planted itself in the present. In a time where many gamers are facing open world fatigue and online multiplayer performance anxiety, Ratchet & Clank is the action platforming remedy we needed.
All the expected elements of the discarded genre are present. Animal-mascot protagonists ripe for cross brand promotion? Check! Saturday-morning cartoon story beats? Check! Shiny, spinning, might-as-well-be-coins collectibles? More perfectly and conspicuously spaced platforms than you can shake a stick at? Check! The game even has a “cheats” menu in the options. All the hallmarks of 2002 gaming are present and accounted for. But alongside the expected features, Ratchet & Clank smartly weaves in more modern design, from an expanded per-weapon leveling trees to a collectible card upgrade system that is much more enjoyable than it sounds. This game is undoubtedly “one of those games”, but it’s one that could only have been made in 2016.
And that’s why this game sticks out among the crowd. Not because it’s a good game, though it is. Not because it has stunning visuals, though it does. It’s because it is a welcome and needed alternative to the design rut many mainstream franchises find themselves veering towards. Beyond that, Insomniac didn’t just cash this one in; they took on the near impossible task of creating both a reboot and a movie tie-in, and delivered a game that respects it’s history, pushes its genre forward, and is worthy of the Game of the Month title.
Your move, Yooka-Laylie.