Ratchet and Clank is one of Sony’s biggest franchises. It helped launch the PS5 raytracing and SSD era with the critically acclaimed and technologically impressive Rift Apart. Its numerous entries on the PS2 delivered dependable goofy action, bringing a new family audience to Sony’s hardcore gaming ecosystem. The PS3 housed the Future series, a pseudo spin-off/reboot with a whole new level of scope and gameplay polish thanks to the console’s better processor and GPU, and it was a true blockbuster in Sony’s catalog.
The PS4 got exactly one Ratchet and Clank game…and it’s also a movie tie-in title that isn’t amazing.
How did this happen?
Sony has been trying to get into the multimedia cross-pollination game with their IP for a long time. The recent Uncharted movie and the hyped-up Last of Us TV series are the latest examples of this — but Ratchet and Clank was their first big attempt way back in 2016.
I had the chance to see the movie and play the game thanks to the magic of Netflix and PlayStation Plus subscriptions. The movie is the most aggressively okay animated movie I’ve seen in years. It’s like a 90-minute cutscene from a cancelled Ratchet game but with thirty percent of the heart removed. It’s a breezy collection of solid scenes with no real character arcs to speak of. The game is similarly fine, featuring a refined take on the PS3-era gameplay across a wholly uneven collection of stages.
Rather than tell a new story, the movie and game are loosely based on the original PS2 game from 2002. The game only has about half the locations from that original story, and they both shove in items, characters, and plot points from future games in what feels like equal parts homage and awkward fumbling.
You’d think that Sony would have launched this foray into game and movie crossovers with a huge budgeted epic worthy of one of their most popular franchises…but instead they made the movie and game as cheaply as possible, spending less than $40 million dollars split between them. I think the plan was to eek out as much profit as possible, then spend…