Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’s accessibility features try to make a hectic game easier to play
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart brings alternate realities to the beloved PlayStation franchise on June 11th, and along with leveraging the PlayStation 5’s SSD, Insomniac Games announced new accessibility features on Thursday that build on the studio’s recent work and address the limited options presented in the earlier PS4 Ratchet & Clank.
As an action platformer, Ratchet & Clank often requires multiple types of movement: You’ll shoot through waves of oncoming enemies while running around a level, and quickly shift to jumping across floating platforms, and using various gadgets to fly, swing, and now reality-warp through stages. Rift Apart seems to keep those core mechanics but adds even more potentially sensory-overloading visuals, from cracks in reality to exploding fragments of buildings. All of which makes the new features Insomniac is adding all the more welcome.
That occasionally hectic gameplay of the earlier game can be fun, but without customization options for controls — as noted in this accessibility review — it could also make the game hard to play for people with disabilities that impact fine motor skills. Along with full controller remapping, Rift Apart addresses the issue in a few ways, like how you can repeatedly fire one of the game’s various weapons with a button press instead of squeezing a trigger. The game can also automatically switch between targets, and correct your aim, if for instance flying enemies give you trouble.
For movement, Rift Apart includes features to make flying in the game easier to control, automatically leveling off your glider so you don’t nose dive, and an “Off-Screen Ledge Guard” which should save you from falling off ledges you can’t see if you’re distracted while smashing robots. There’s also an option to assign all of your movement controls to a single button so you don’t have to hit jump and swing on different parts of the controller.
Visually, Rift Apart also allows you to tone down the game’s striking, but over-the-top visual effects. You can adjust all the obvious settings like contrast and field of view, but the game also smartly uses a visual shading system similar to what developer Naughty Dog used in The Last of Us Part II to help make things legible. You can apply colored shaders to your character, any of the enemies in game, even interactable objects to make things easier to visually track and find. The game also offers a similar array of adjustments for changing the size of the in-game HUD and button prompts.
As part of this new generation of consoles, Sony appears to be trying to be a bit more mindful of the various accessibility issues that can come up while playing. It’s been praised for offering software accessibility options on the PS5 by default, like a built-in screen reader, but the real way you can see how things are changing is by looking at the developers Sony owns, works with, and publishes.
Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog clearly seem focused on making their games more accessible. Insomniac’s been building up to this over time as well; the company took special care to add a wide range of accessibility features to Spider-Man: Miles Morales when that game launched with the PS5. The real trick with accessibility options, though, is standardizing them across the board, which seems like it might at least be starting to happen with these Sony exclusives.