Now I’m talking about the first one, not All 4 One. I haven’t played the original Ratchet & Clank since before I moved out of my first apartment, which is coincidentally when I lost my copy of the game. I love the level design in this game, and I’m going to see if I can elaborate on exactly how and why in this post.

Overall, I have to say that the original Ratchet & Clank contains some of my favorite level design of all the games I’ve played. It combines a certain amount of free-roaming experience comparable to a sandbox game, with a mission structure, and a gradually sloping difficulty curve. One level leads to another in a logical fashion.

Let’s look at the first world Ratchet and Clank visit together. Right from the start, you’re offered three possible directions — one in front of you, and two behind you. Should you choose to go forward, you’re going after the world’s primary mission objectives, which is really just to smash some robots and acquire a ship.

Should you choose to go in either direction behind you, you’ll find an opportunity to collect some bolts, and then a character who unlocks another level. Though you can pick up the flamethrower gadget in this level, it’s easily possible to complete the level objectives with your basic melee and ranged attacks.

In this way, the first level branches into two new possible levels for exploration. Not every level offers two choices, as that would quickly rack up an overwhelming number of possibilities, but there always seem like enough to keep moving forward with the plot, but also leaning one way or another to pick up “side quests” and stuff.

Over the course of the game, the weapons and gadgets you collect make your progress easier, and they aren’t strictly necessary to complete the game. I haven’t checked to see if it’s possible, but you may be able to finish the game without purchasing weapons beyond your basic melee and ranged attack.

I’ll update my progress as I continue to play through Ratchet & Clank, and record my observations about other fantastic quirks about this game.