As stated in my ranking of all Assassin’s Creed games, I consider Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to be one of the best in the series. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is very much an underrated and forgotten entry to the series, which I think is unwarranted. It has a lot of redeeming features that I would like to shed some light on here and maybe, just maybe, I can make you view the game in a more favourable way.
Before we get into it, there are a few disclaimers I need to get out of the way. This is all just my opinion, feel free to disagree, and this article will contain spoilers. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The game takes place in Victorian Era London during the Industrial Revolution. I love this setting. It has a lot of style, for lack of a better word. The dark and dingy back-alleys of Whitechapel, as well as the grand architecture of Westminster, really make the world feel alive. Some of the environments and set pieces in this game really are a sight to behold. My personal favourite locations are the hospital and theatre. I love them because they add just a slight horror element to the game, like something is not quite right. It keeps you on edge at all times. I am normally not a fan of horror, but if employed like in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I can get on board with it.
The gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is among the best in the entire series and, like everything else, hugely underrated. It’s very fast-paced and fun, especially the hand-to-hand combat. This combat is quite challenging since every enemy type you come up against is able to block and counter your attacks. This makes encounters with multiple enemies difficult because if they catch you off guard, they can take you out in the blink of an eye. Some of the animations, especially the finishing moves, are a bit ridiculous, but that adds to the slightly cartoon-y feel and light-hearted tone of the game. But we’ll get to that later.
The stealth system is pretty much copied and pasted from Assassin’s Creed Unity with a few tweaks. This is good because the stealth system was great in Assassin’s Creed Unity and it’s also great here. You have a plethora of options when it comes to taking out your enemies. Take them out from a distance with a throwing knife or get up close and personal with your Hidden Blade. The choice is yours. I am personally not the stealthy kind of player. I like running in and roughing stuff up, but if you like stealth, then Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the game for you.
Traversing the map has also been subjected to some changes. Due to the layout of the buildings, you are going to have a hard time jumping from building to building. But fear not, they give you a rope launcher which you can use to quickly scale structures or get from one building to another. It is a very neat feature and is also a lot of fun to use. If you need to get around faster, you can just steal a horse carriage and turn the game into GTA in the 1800s. The carriages feel a little clunky and can lose control occasionally, but they are by far the fastest way to get from point A to B.
Story & Characters
The story of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate revolves around the Assassins trying to wrestle back control from the Templars in London to stop them from finding a Piece Of Eden. It’s pretty standard for an Assassin’s Creed game. What makes this game’s story more than just a generic Assassins vs. Templars affair are the characters. A lot of people seem to dislike the characters in Syndicate, but I think they are the most underrated part of the game. Allow me to explain.
As stated before, the game feels a little cartoon-y and that is due to the characters, as well. The henchmen of the main villain, Crawford Starrick, all feel quite one dimensional, but in a good way. They all have one defining characteristic and the rest of their personality and mannerisms are based on it. The standout is Maxwell Roth, the psychotic leader of the Blighters, your rival gang throughout the game and controller of London’s criminal underworld. Despite the danger he poses, he is still quite charismatic and I would have certainly liked to see more of him before you inevitably assassinate him.
The main villain, Crawford, is one of the weaker aspects of the game. He is just your generic, run of the mill Templar who seeks to rule over everyone else. The cutscenes with him in his office, talking to his henchmen, are quite entertaining, however. This is mostly due to the presence of the henchmen who, as stated before, offer some kind of personality, unlike Starrick. The nicest thing I can say is that he serves his purpose as the main villain who is behind everything pulling the strings. To be fair, villains have never really been a strength of the Assassin’s Creed games.
The main attraction, however, are the main characters, the Frye twins. Yes, this game has two protagonists. Jacob, the reckless hothead who likes solving problems with his fists and Evie, the more methodical by-the-book Assassin who sneaks past enemies completely undetected. They are polar opposites in the beginning and constantly butt heads over their methods of liberating London and stopping the Templars.
Jacob wants to go for a more aggressive and obvious approach while Evie wants to operate in secret and bring the Templars down from behind the scenes. This leads to Jacob founding his very own gang, The Rooks, and taking over London through the means of vicious gang wars. Evie meanwhile continues her work on finding the so-called Pieces Of Eden, ancient artifacts that give the user the power to control people and make them do their bidding.
I personally like Jacob more as a character since he also fits my playstyle more. He is the funny and charismatic type which makes him perfect as the head of The Rooks. I enjoyed many of his jokes and one-liners, even if they don’t always land. A lot of players dislike him because they find him annoying and that’s a fair criticism. If you like your Assassin’s Creed games to have a more serious tone, then his constant interjections can be very grating since it does break up the seriousness of many situations. I, however, am a player that likes it when games like Assassin’s Creed don’t take themselves too seriously and have a sense of humour. This means Jacob is the perfect character for someone like me.
Evie, however, is a different story. I don’t hate her, far from it in fact, but she is a massive buzzkill. She always has to play the straight man, or woman in this case, to Jacob’s light-hearted and fun-loving personality. She is so focused on her quest that she can never stop thinking about it for even a second. She learns to loosen up a bit throughout the game, which makes her a lot more likeable, and she does have the occasional funny line here and there. All that being said, it is good to have a more serious character to balance out the wackiness and the comedy of Jacob.
If you haven’t played Assassin’s Creed Syndicate then I urge you to play it, since it is very underrated in my opinion. I hope that I have made clear as to why I love this game enough to rank it amongst the best in the series. It really got shafted in hindsight, as when it released, the series was still reeling and recovering from the disastrous launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity, but I think that’s unfair. I urge you again to play it and make up your own mind if you ever find yourself with some free time and nothing else to do. Trust me, you won’t regret it.