I already have mixed feelings about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It’s a vast and deep experience, much like previous Assassin’s Creed games, but one that appears to be in conflict with itself, unable to choose between sincerity and comedy.
Assassin’s Creed is a series that has always excelled at recreating historical cities, and Syndicate’s setting, the city of London, is evidence of this. London’s skyline is littered with smoking chimneys and archaic architecture, whilst its streets are appropriately crowded and chaotic. As with previous Assassin’s Creed games, this world is overfilling with activities for the player to complete, which only adds to the impression of Syndicate being a grand experience.
However, whilst Syndicate’s world is heavily populated, it’s not necessarily filled with anything particularly interesting. Assassin’s Creed has always featured strong stereotypes, but Syndicate is the worst offender. Indistinguishable citizens parade the streets of London, all dressed in overcoats and top hats, all speaking with the same crude cockney accent. It leaves the game feeling comical and tongue-in-cheek.
It would be excusable if Syndicate embraced this comedic element, but its themes are far too sincere to be comedic. In one part of the trailer we see an example of the game’s gang warfare. The protagonist slaughters all of the rival gang in front of their friends, which is then followed by him turning to the crowd and telling them that they work for him now. These characters, who have just watched their friends being murdered by this man, begin cheering to the news.
In the end, it’s a confusing experience. There’s a rich world here, filled with mature themes, but there are also some odd design choices that leaves Syndicate feeling disjointed. The game doesn’t have the craftsmanship you expect from the ninth entry to a game series. It’s lacking the polish that earlier instalments delivered so excellently, making me question why Assassin’s Creed continues to release annually.