Assassin's Creed Syndicate

The 1860s was an interesting time for England if the characters in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate are any indication. The theory of Evolution was gradually becoming accepted in the scientific community, those Penny Dreadful stories were arguably at the height of popularity, and, all in all, it was the middle of what historians call ‘Britain’s golden years’. It’s important to know these things because this was also the decade in which the second industrial revolution was really hitting its stride and with it, a cultural revolution of sorts. The British had an empire that stretched across the globe (albeit of questionable stability) and anything that affected it would spread through each land.

Unlike its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has an atmosphere within the confines of its London setting. In more ways than one, it embodies several aspects of English culture, both new and old. That’s one of the reasons you may have noticed that in certain moments, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate feels like it’s a part of some British TV show. Charlie Chaplin, in particular, comes to mind. Not the most up and coming of stars, but the slapstick humour he is famous for seems to be abundant and oddly enough, in the combat style present in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Anyone who’s seen Easy Street might know what we mean.

Charlie Chaplin's Easy Street

Everything in a fight from Evie and Jacob’s fast-paced, almost violent slapstick style of combat to the elevated music using just a hint of brass, the whole thing is reminiscent of those old silent comedy films. All that’s missing are the few seconds of silent mouth movements shortly followed by a black screen and inter-titles.

While we’re on the subject of incredibly old media references, you might have expected Crawford Starrick, the handlebar moustachioed villain using his railroad company as a part of his dastardly schemes, to tie someone up and leave them on one of his train tracks. After all, he’s just one black cape and top hat away from being Snidely Whiplash: a handlebar moustachioed villain using the railroad as a part of his dastardly schemes, i.e. tying up Nell Fenwick to the train tracks and hoping Dudley doesn’t save her, all the while twirling his fine moustache.

Crawford Starrick with a gun

It’s obvious by now that the video games industry wants to compete with the film industry. More and more, we see celebrities joining the cast of triple-A video games and epic ‘set pieces’ with musical scores composed lovingly by famous composers. It’s no wonder that the creative style and overall atmosphere of certain video games would make cultural references or references to famous films or icons relating to the plot and/or setting of the game, and it is nice to have some level of interaction with it, something you certainly cannot have with films, no matter how much they try to shove 3D in your face.

Hopefully more video games will begin to offer a similar kind of atmosphere. Not necessarily pertaining to the talented Charlie Chaplin, but of something else we all know and love. It’s doubtful that Assassin’s Creed Empire will give us anything to compare, but here’s hoping all the same.

Narayan Liu
Narayan Liu is an avid writer and an avid gamer, in that order. He moved to Sweden in 2013 after 16 years in Hong Kong and there, published his first novella.