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-
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.
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!