Jack the Ripper creeped into Assassin’s Creed Syndicate this week as the star of the first DLC released since the debut of the title. While the expansion sounds appealing, in its own twisted sort of way, is this addition to the game worth your time (and money)?
The simple answer? If you enjoyed Syndicate’s main campaign – then yes, you will most likely enjoy the new add-on of Jack the Ripper. The DLC was announced roughly two months prior to the release of Syndicate, which often equates to a skeptical gamer – why not include it in the main title on the disc? Arguments aside, the best post-game content in games usually comes in the form of some addition to the original world that simply wouldn’t make sense if included in the game, and Jack the Ripper DLC is a great example of that.
Taking place 20 years after the ending of Syndicate, players join the Frye twins after having spent time training in India alongside Henry Green as they return to the city of London. Jack the Ripper has shaken the city to its core with his bloody, malicious murders and Jacob has called upon his sister Evie to help him solve the treacherous murders that have befallen Whitechapel.
Evie was easily the highlight of Syndicate, so another chance to put her in the spotlight and have her take on Jack the Ripper is a bold and welcome move on Ubisoft’s part. It’s both interesting and exciting to play as an older Evie as she fights and decodes the mystery of Jack the Ripper and his relation to the Assassins, creating a story that is fun to watch play out. There aren’t any real bombshells to be dropped throughout the tale, but the ending of this mini-campaign went out on a higher note than the less-than thrilling ending of Syndicate, which is much appreciated.
While two districts of Syndicate’s London remain part of the open world of this DLC, a large number of the main missions take place in locations that never even existed in the main game – creepy asylums, expansive castles, etc. Besides the large playground of London that is borrowed from Syndicate, this DLC also somewhat retains the two playable character model that the main game handled so well, except this time around, the player alternates between playing as Evie and Jack the Ripper himself. While playing as Jack, scrawling text flashes across the screen and features occasional and purposeful glitches that create a dark and twisted atmosphere as you trudge about as the infamous killer, making him a clear difference to play than either Frye twin. While you’re not able to switch between these two characters at will, the slight variety that is present helps keep each mission fresh and different than the one before it.
A new fear mechanic is introduced that is usable by both characters, adding an interesting new twist to the gameplay. Both Jack and Evie can put fear and anxiety into enemies by performing a brutal takedown (requiring the player to follow on screen prompts), tossing a fear bomb or by plummeting a spike into an enemy. While each character performs both similarly, Jack’s are lethal while Evie’s remain non-lethal.
The mission types mainly draw on the strengths that were present in Syndicate – mainly focusing on the ample murder mysteries and the expansive stealth-based assassinations that generally closed each chapter. There are nine missions available for the player to go through, but the map is also filled with some collectibles (chests, illustrations and glitches), as well as numerous associate activities that return from the main title. While some of these activities are mainly copies of the ones that took place during the Frye’s original adventure, there are a few new ones, such as escorting an NPC through a walk of shame as the crowds boo at him. None of these activities are required for the story, but are added to help cushion out the length of time that can be enjoyed by players during the DLC.
The XP that is earned by completing these associate activities can then be used in the new skill tree that is also inspired by Syndicate, where Evie has just a fewness stacking ‘fear’ skills that can be purchased with skill points earned through XP. On top of that, she can still craft a few new weapons and upgrade her fear bombs or stakes for maximum efficiency.
All in all, Syndicate’s Jack the Ripper DLC doesn’t bring a whole new, deadly world to the AC formula like the trailers made you think. The main downside of the new content is that it largely wipes away the lighthearted, witty banter that occurred between Evie and Jacob, an atmosphere that usually compliments Assassin’s Creed games so well. Jack the Ripper is clearly a dark topic to be handled, but AC is never at its best when its taking itself too seriously. In the end, if you’re looking to spend a little more time with the highlight of Syndicate in Evie Frye, than never fear: Jack the Ripper is worth your time.