The Art of Ratchet and Clank

4 out of 5

Dark Horse has proven to be the outlet for these over-sized, hardcover ‘Art of…’ video game treatments, and that’s absolutely a good thing: care is taken for the production, resulting in heavy but not unwieldy paperstock, sturdy binding that doesn’t restrict laying the book flat or casual flipthrough, beautiful color, and a sense of reverence for the amount of time that goes into these things.

The Ratchet and Clank book, hewing as it does more toward a cartoonish style, might not have the coffee table appeal of some other art books, but if you like animation and had never heard of the game, your eyes might very well boggle at the layers and layers to the worlds and characters created by Insomniac.

The book is divvied up understandably, but at the same time, maybe not ideally, with smaller chapters dedicated to the pieces (characters, gear, landscapes) and then the largest section which takes a game by game approach, covering all the Insomniac iterations (meaning not the PSP games) up through the PS4 R&C remake.  Captions written by various team members (not clear which on specific captions; several are credited overall) offer worthwhile insights or mentions of how certain concepts / assets may have been reutilized at later points.  My ‘not ideally’ caveat is twofold: that for a game so focused on weapon switchups, the ‘gear’ section is pretty small – though to be fair, that does allow us to realize how dense all the detailing in the games was (especially the landscapes) – but moreso, I’m not clear why everything wasn’t just bundled in to a game-by-game approach.  I get that this allowed some more focused commentary on how specific things progressed (like R&C themselves), but it still felt odd to go back and forth over the series’ history before settling in to one long review.

But I nitpick.  I still was awestruck as I turned the pages and was able to marvel at those things that you may never get to see onscreen (and in some cases couldn’t, as we do get some production / unused sketches here).  Also a nitpick: the art isn’t credited.  Which seems… unfair, though I’m sure there’s a reason.

Fans of the games will adore this; anyone with an appreciation for animation who may or may not be a game fan should take a look as well.