Recently someone on Twitter posed the question, “what is your favorite DLC/expansions from a game?” While I have played some amazing DLCs, but nothing stands out like the Jack the Ripper DLC from Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
Syndicate released on October 23, 2015. The game was underrated and its sales suffered from its predecessor’s, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, failures. Syndicate wasn’t flawless but it did introduce a new combat system, more gear customization, and two playable protagonists (one male and one female). Overall, the game worked, the mechanics felt fresh, and the cast of characters, even outside of the protagonists, were engaging and interesting.
Evie Frye, one of the game’s main protagonists, is not the first women in the Assassin’s ranks but she is the first female protagonist of a core title. The first female playable character was Aveline De Grandpré, from the PS Vita title Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. In addition, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China also featured a playable female assassin, Shao. However, Evie paved the way for another female assassin to take the reins in her own core title. The upcoming Assassin Creed: Odyssey gives players the opportunity to play the game completely as a woman, Kassandra, as opposed to how Evie and Jacob shared the spotlight.
Evie’s skill-set was focused more on stealth than brawns, like her brother Jacob. Playing as Evie felt as realistic as an alternative history game about assassins could. She was cautious and always encouraged to take the more thought out and stealthy approach.
The game treats Evie with the dignity and respect she deserves. She is an equal among her other Creed brethren. Even when facing enemies, she is never cat called or called sexist remarks. Considering how often women get that in real life, it is nice to be able to escape from it; even if it is in a video game. After finishing the game, I bought the DLC excited to spend more time traversing industrial London as Dame Evie Frye.
-SPOILERS FOR THE JACK THE RIPPER DLC BELOW THE PICTURE –
I didn’t expect a female-driven story that rivaled that of Mad Max: Fury Road. The start of the DLC has you playing as Jacob chasing down Jack the Ripper only to be overpowered by the villain. The story then allows Evie to pick up where Jacob left off in tracking the Ripper’s murders, fighting gang wars, and most importantly protecting “the unfortunates.”
Evie takes down corrupt brothel owners and puts the power back into the hands of sex workers. She plays a series of missions where her job is to stop men from abusing prostitutes then shaming them by walking them through large crowds. She tracks lost women and works to keep the streets safe for women not only from Jack the Ripper but pimps, violent Johns, and abusive Madames.
A woman protecting and fighting for other women tells a compelling narrative. Most importantly, Evie never shames or degrades these women for their lifestyle choices. Instead, she works to give them the value they deserve among clients. She recruits them for missions and treats them as equals within society.
This DLC introduced the concept of fear bombs and brutal takedowns that cause enemies to fear the player. Both Evie and Jack the Ripper utilize these tools from their Assassin brothers in India. This is similar to the fear takedown from Batman: Arkham Knight. However, in the Arkham Knight DLC, Batgirl: A Matter of Family, Barbara could not perform fear takedown like her mentor. While this could be related to mechanics or the fact WB Montreal made the DLC rather than Rock Steady it was disappointing nonetheless.
Evie, on the other hand, can scare enemies into giving up information or just running away. Her skills can be leveled up to the point that rival gang members will avoid her at all cost out of fear for their lives. To see that Evie can instill the same fear in men and women as Jack the Ripper himself is empowering.
Finally, Evie not only single-handedly saves London but she also she saves her brother. Evie uses her intelligence over brute force to stop Jack the Ripper. The final boss fight requires players to distract Jack, hide and use surprise attacks against him. She understands her limitations as a smaller person and instead compensates for that by being a smarter fighter. This is seen throughout the game, so it was fantastic to see her personality and skills translated to the DLC.
I love seeing female characters who utilize other tactics in fights because it makes more sense physically. By relying on her intelligence as well as her strength, she was able to do defeat Jake when her brother Jacob couldn’t.
Clearly this DLC and game prove female protagonist can hold their own. They can be just as powerful and compelling as their male counterparts. I look forward to playing all the upcoming female protagonists in games and revisiting Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and its DLC if only to be Evie once more.