Back in 2012, and powered by the Quake engine, Thirty Flights of Loving unleashed a stylish trick on its players. Jump cuts. Oh boy, how we all sat up and put down our Cahiers du Cinéma. How we briefly silenced the gentle putter of our artisan zoetropes. Imagine it: you’re running down a corridor and then the world cuts around you and you’re somewhere else. Magic. A particular smart kind of magic that made you feel like you were in on something just by witnessing it, just by seeing it for what it is.
Jump cuts are still pretty powerful when used in a film – I don’t fully get them, actually: they manage to make things feel more real, like a documentary, while also drawing attention to how artificial everything is? So in a videogame, in Thirty Flights, they were electric. Thirty Flights used jump cuts for bursts of Zippo-flicker new-wave cool. Breezy ambiguity! What is truth, eh? Eh? Some of us never really got over this, to be honest.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has a similar sort of trick, but the handling – and the tech behind it – is completely different. We are a long way from the Quake engine with this one, so to put it in the language of hardware, what came first, the SSD or dimensional rifts? When asked this at a recent virtual junket – bear in mind when watching the pretty much astonishing videos of this game in motion that much of what you see has been made in people’s kitchens and spare bedrooms during the pandemic – the team at Insomniac finds it hard to answer the question. But here are the basics: PS5’s SSD is a beast at loading, so while that’s bad if you like to make a Pop-Tart between levels – I am not here to judge – it means that you can jump right into a game from the off. And game developers, after really thinking about it, have realised that you can jump right into a game inside a game. And what if both games are the same game? Hold me.
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