Why Syndicate is the black sheep of Assassin's Creed

Hey everyone! I published yesterday a sort of meta-analysis of the Assassin’s Creed series, largely because I realized I’ve played over 10+ of these games, and 3 in the past the year. And also why Syndicate grinds my gears. And why Origins/Odyssey leave a bad taste in my mouth. Here’s the full video here ->

But in short, I argue that Syndicate has 2 factors that make it stand out in this long-running series that’s become as convoluted as Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. And that is-

  1. it gets away from the core mechanical identity of AC, which is social stealth and parkour. The rope launcher zipline thing undermines both of these pillars. Because London is so large, tall, and open, that idea of running across rooftops from corner to corner is replaced with having to rope-launch everywhere. And in addition, because everything is so big and empty, you lose the density of crowds and the “social” stealth.

  2. and perhaps more importantly, Syndicate doesn’t “fit” in the evolution of the franchise. This is where I go off into how we talk about and categorize the games - a lot of people have their way of identifying AC games, but this has become my new modus operandi -

  • AC 1 to Revelations forms the “Mediterranean Tetralogy.” The core theme of these 4 games is breaking down what it means to be an Assassin.
  • AC 3 to Unity forms the “1700s Tetralogy.” And like any classical storytelling, these games undermine our understanding by creating this web of Templar-Assassin conflict, where we play as both Templars-turned-Assassins, and Assassins-turned-Templars. The lines get blurred. This is the Empires Strikes Back to the New Hope, if you would.
  • we then have the reboots of Origins and Odyssey that care more about sci-fantasy Isu crap than the political history of the Assassins vs. Templars.

And you’ll note that leaves out Syndicate. Syndicate should have built upon the narrative threads in AC 3 to Unity, by continuing to make us question the Templar-Assassin conflict. Because, heck, Unity has an Assassin-Templar team up to fight a Sage, and uses the star-crossed lovers trope of Elise and Arno.
But Syndicate is regressive. It treats the Assassin-Templar conflict with as much nuance as… as… I don’t even know. It reduces the conflict to Assassins = good, Templars = bad. Which goes directly against the past 4 games.

It’s a thematic black sheep.

And I get particularly sad about it, because if Origins & Odyssey are anything to go off of, we’re not really going back to Assassins vs. Templars. Not like the old games did. So Syndicate was a missed opportunity to provide some resolution, or give some closure, or leave us with a few questions, instead the series kinda just… limped along.

Origins was a reboot. But Syndicate never went out with a bang. It’s that 9th game that kinda just sits there on the AC shelf, not quite the old-world of Assassin’s Creed, and definitely not AC 2.0.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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I’d argue that Origins and Odyssey have not abandoned the Templar plot, they simply provide us with proto-Templars, or Templars by another name (Order of the Ancients, Cult of Kosmos, Order of the Dominion). The M.O. is the same, its just a matter of a few centuries before they become the Templars by name.

sci-fantasy Isu crap

I mean, isn’t that the reason we play these games? :wink: I’m still holding out for my all Isu instalment set in the pre-Grecian era. Think Fate of Atlantis expanded out to a whole game!

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Only think I can say about Syndicate is that is my second favorite AC game and that I will die for Evie and Jacob (and Henry).


I just finished Origins & I’ve been thinking about Assassin’s Creed as well. I put Syndicate with Unity as a bit separate from the other colonial games just cause there was a change in gameplay with those.
I actually liked the way they evolved the gameplay in Unity and think it didn’t deserve to be scrapped after Syndicate. I never got into the Sci Fi stuff either, mostly cause I don’t expect it to go anywhere & I come to AC games for the history. I could take or leave the Templar/Assassins conflict. Like you say, some of the games do do something interesting with it.
With Origins & Odyssey, the stories are fine, but they are way too long, for what feels like just the sake of grinding. It kills any sense of story pace. I’m not a fan of the new combat either.

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