Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Adds Jack The Ripper DLC

Turns out it was The Scarecrow all along.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate [official site] will be getting a Jack the Ripper campaign as part of its season pass DLC. Alice would like us to think that she called this turn of events months ago. She didn’t. In May she was all “tbh I’m astonished it’s set too early for Jack the Ripper [AssCreed Syndicate is set in London, 1868 while the five generally accepted Jack the Ripper killings all date from 1888] – I was convinced they’d go for him playing a pivotal role in The Conspiracy.”

It was in fact Graham who said: “I’m sure he’ll feature in a big bit of DLC.”

Ten points to Graham. Here’s the trailer and some thoughts:

“The last job was such a beauty” the guy purrs as the camera (and a mysterious man) follow a lone woman through the dark streets. Cut to scenes from a butcher – chicken corpses dangling and carcasses in the process of being dismembered. Then it’s all slow motion murder with a knife in the street interspersed with cuts to a blood-spattered bedroom. “I love my work and want to start again… Try to stop me.”

As per the official site, “20 years after the events of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, ‘Jack the Ripper’ has embarked on a brutal reign of terror that shocks London to its core and threatens the very existence of the Brotherhood of Assassins.” There aren’t many other details at the moment but I guess from the trailer phrasing that you’re probably trying to stop the Ripper from committing more murders and thus you’re broadly on the side of “not killing women and maybe hacking out their uteruses” although the implication from the official site seems to be that your motivation for getting involved with any of this is the threat to the Brotherhood?

Ah, a press release has arrived:

“Set during the Autumn of Terror in Whitechapel, 1888, a killer’s abominable acts of murder and mutilation terrorise London, creating widespread panic and worldwide media attention. Players will join forces with Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard, to hunt down Jack The Ripper in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the infamous serial killer.”

I dunno. Nothing about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has grabbed me anyway but this trailer has pushed me even further away. The murders attributed to Jack the Ripper were horrific and brutal. I’ve read about them a few times before because I think a lot of kids go through a phase of being interested in crime, but attending the recent Forensics exhibition at the Wellcome Collection they had the plan of Mitre Square showing where the body of Catherine Eddowes was found. The plan also features a sketch of her mutilated body with a jagged rip from the centre of her chest to her groin. Having a trailer purr at me about the beauty of these “jobs” and offer up all that slow-mo lingering knife and bodice camerawork has repulsed rather than intrigued me. Like, I get that the Ripper character is supposed to be into his own bullshit but then you add in all the lingering shots of lips and bodices and knives? This trailer just feels gross to me.

44 Comments

  1. JFS says:

    Violence IS gross. Always has been.

  2. int says:

    Saucy!

  3. Thirith says:

    Haven’t yet watched the trailer, but even as one of the apparently few people on this site who like Assassin’s Creed it sounds rather offputting – though in the way that a lot of serial killer (and particularly Jack the Ripper) fare is. So often there’s the hypocritical combination of decrying and fetishising the crimes. They’re obviously shown to be horrible and evil, but at the same time they’re titillating.

    IMO the best thing done about Jack the Ripper is still Alan Moore’s From Hell and particularly the appendix in comic form.

    Also, not that it’d ever happen, but I’d love an London-based game that has all the detail of the Assassin’s Creed series but the psychogeographical sensitivity of From Hell.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Yeah, I don’t think this particular low-hanging fruit should have been picked. There’s way too much baggage of all sorts attached to the Ripper and it’s far too familiar a story.

      Purely in terms of gameplay, I hope they plan to do something better with this than Unity’s crime investigation missions. Because those were a fun idea, but the implementation was rubbish.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Spring-Heeled Jack would have been a far better choice.

        He’s more an urban legend than an actual serial killer.

        The legends cover almost a ninety year period and various locations. It wouldn’t be that difficult to make him a costumed persona similar to the assassins in the brotherhood.

        His main characteristic is being able to jump over 9ft – 10ft walls. In a game so heavily focused on movement and parkour that is a perfect game mechanics fit.

        • christmas duck says:

          This is such a better idea I’m now actually a bit annoyed.

        • ribby says:

          Ikr? I commented on how I was hoping for Spring-Heeled Jack, this is not as good.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          Actually, I still expect Jack to be there, because as you say, it makes almost too much sense.

          I will also be annoyed if the brotherhood isn’t led by Karl Marx, for pretty much the same reason.

      • Oozo says:

        It’s Ubisoft. Picking low-hanging fruit is just what they do. (And, to be fair, what made them millions.)

    • christmas duck says:

      Glad to see someone bring up the appendix section of From Hell, I tracked down a copy of that from when it was released as a single issue (well worth it, it has pages of extra information), really great little potted history of the murders journey from a series of brutal killings into a piece of pop culture.

      • Thirith says:

        I’m a big Moore fan, but for me that appendix may be the best thing he’s done. There are bits that are laugh-out-loud funny (the barber shop quartet of murderers), others darkly humorous (the deadpan reference to cattle mutilations), but it all adds up to one of the most strikingly humane pieces of writing Moore has done IMO.

        Then again, my wife read and enjoyed From Hell but she gave up on the appendix, since it bored her senseless. I’ve always found her tastes somewhat suspect. ;-)

  4. mattevansc3 says:

    I’m feeling that same sort of discomfort watching that trailer. Yes they are making Jack the Ripper a bad guy but they are doing it in a way that glorifies him.

    Modern forensic and psychological profiling of the victims and the injuries inflicted upon them don’t point to a criminal mastermind but a cowardly individual with an intense hatred of women and who likely had trouble getting it up.

    • ribby says:

      You seem to be taking this very personally… It was a long time ago. Why are you being so sensitive?

      Hitler killed lots of people too but Wolfenstein glorifies that by giving him miniguns, tut, tut.

      • trn says:

        Does distance lessen the severity or impact of a crime? I don’t think its being overly-sensitive to find the details of the Ripper killings reprehensible, nor a trailer that glorifies the killer disturbing. People who are offended by extreme acts of violence are not overly-sensitive, they are either a) totally normal; or b) potentially suffering their own private traumas.

        Hitler may have ‘killed more’, but to my knowledge he didn’t spend several hours tearing women to pieces and removing their sexual organs in the privacy of turn-a-blind-eye-poverty-stricken Whitechapel.

        Signed an overly-sensitive SJW.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          And C) A father to a young daughter who is concerned the seemingly growing apathy towards sexual violence aimed at women, incidents like Steubenville and the general hostility to female equality (GamersGate/Quinspiracy and the previous poster’s “don’t be so sensitive”) is putting my daughter’s well being in jeopardy.

          • ribby says:

            What ‘growing apathy towards sexual violence aimed at women’? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reaction towards sexual violence aimed at women that could possibly be described as apathetic. Sexual violence aimed at men on the other hand (and it disgusts me that I feel this ashamed and apologetic for bringing this up) is treated with extreme apathy, to the point where it can be turned into a joke in numerous films.

            From skimming the comments before watching the video I was expecting Quiet-like levels of gratuity, but it’s fine.

            Now the comments are split into two opposite camps one saying that this should have been avoided altogether because it’s a historical figure that abused women and putting such a character in a video-game is glorifying these acts. Meanwhile the other line of reasoning is that the game is bound to gloss over the details of his sexual assault and therefore misrepresent the victims.

            If the second group got their way the first group would likely be even more appalled. But there’s no actual argument between these people because the overall consensus is this shouldn’t be happening and is deeply troubling because it’ll hurt women.

            For heaven’s sake! Do you really think this will change people’s opinions on sexual assault? He’s a BAD GUY in a videogame! From the way you’re all freaking out and shaking your heads, you’d think they’d have made him the protagonist.

            It seems to me that videogames would have more women in them if AAA devs didn’t have to tread on eggshells whenever they tried to put them in.

            And as for “Do you think heinous acts become less heinous because they happened a long time ago.” Yes of course they do. That’s obviously true. The Nazis have been funny for ages, the Vikings (who were also rapists) have been funny for ages, the Spanish Inquisition tortured people yet no one would make a fuss about the Monty Python sketch whereas some people would if the sketch was about ISIS.

      • MiniMatt says:

        It’s (generally) a little different in WW2 games – I can’t think of any which feature ample bosemed pretty young holocaust victims shortly before they’re eviscerated and experimented upon by Joseph Mengele.

        There is, there at least can be, a difference between titular “baddie” with his name serving only as storytelling shorthand for his wickedness and taking titilation and entertainment from that wickedness.

        Jack the Ripper – in all forms of modern entertainment – too often leans toward the latter. I’m similarly concerned that this DLC will do likewise.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Slight difference is that Hitler created a regime that almost took over the world. As despicable as his actions and beliefs were, his real life achievements make it impossible to have a portrayal of him that doesn’t in some way glorify him.

        Jack the Ripper achieved nothing other than not getting caught for committing brutal sexual attacks on women who were residing at the lower rung of the social ladder.

        Jack the Ripper’s celebrity status overshadows his victims and the crimes he committed. By glorifying the man you start to glorify the crime or at least devalue it and that’s the issue.

        They are taking a coward who committed horrific acts of sexual violence and are elevating him to criminal mastermind status.

        Look at the framing of the trailer, the cut away to the butcher shop is the only connection to the brutality of the crimes. There’s no hint towards the sexual nature of those crimes. Instead we are presented with Jack the Ripper being some comic book adversary. Its the general act of downgrading real sexual violence to a plot point or side matter that can be easily discarded that I take issue with.

        • ribby says:

          Explain what you mean by “By glorifying the man”. Do you mean by making him seem a bigger deal than he really was? Because if they’re doing that then surely they’re making his victims into a bigger deal than they really were also.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            Not even in the slightest.

            “20 years after the events of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, ‘Jack the Ripper’ has embarked on a brutal reign of terror that shocks London to its core and threatens the very existence of the Brotherhood of Assassins.”

            How exactly does sexual violence towards prostitutes “threaten(s) the very existence of the Brotherhood of Assassins.”?

            Unless the Brotherhood of Assassins are actually pimps who’s main source of income are these prostitutes then there’s a larger picture here. These victims and violence enacted upon them were the picture. Now that is a smaller part of a larger picture. Within the game they are raising Jack the Ripper’s status through the inclusion of the Brotherhood of Assassins, not by focusing on his victims.

          • ribby says:

            tbf we can’t really assume either way until we know why Jack is apparently endangering the Assassins…

          • Buggery says:

            Stop defending Jack the Ripper. You are being creepy.

          • ribby says:

            I’m not defending him- no more than other people here are defending Hitler. Actually a lot less, since I’m not trying to suggest that anything he did was admirable. But I suppose calling me a ripper-apologist is a neat way to dodge any kind of discussion

    • JamesPatton says:

      Agreed. After taking a hobbyist’s interest in the murders for 2 or 3 years, I finally read one of the more sensible Ripper overviews, by Philip Sugden. In it there was a passage which pointed out that, while it might be fun to bandy around theories that the Ripper was the Prince of Wales or some impotent actor or the Queen’s doctor, these were *horrific* and *brutal* crimes, and that accusing *anyone* of them was a very, very serious thing – even 100 years after the fact.

      Kind of made me rethink my whole attitude to the Ripper mythos after that.

  5. christmas duck says:

    Eeeeeeee…I was pretty glad when I noticed the date setting for the main game was far too early for the ripper murders to be used as a plot point, and they it didn’t seem to be a feature in the only announced DLC at that point either.
    Fare thee well, credit I gave the devs for not including it.

    Are they still using the same characters from the main game? Having Evie as the player character for this would be something at least (no using her as bait though, or any women as bait for that matter, no bait ladies).

  6. Shazbut says:

    I talk about Jack the Ripper all the time as a tour guide in London. As far as I’m aware he’s the only serial killer for whom you can buy merchandise. If it ends up being Aaron Kosminski, or whoever, let’s hope giving the guy a name and a face helps people realise this was a real human being killing other real human beings.

  7. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I’m holding out for Ken Livingstone DLC.

  8. Innocent Dave says:

    Well, I’m sure this is going to be classy and not a deeply squicky cash-grab that glosses over the brutal realities of gendered violence.

    As others have mentioned, From Hell is the only book you’ll ever need to read about this, and has lots of references if you insist on reading several. Just be aware that it’s deeply upsetting and doesn’t really pull any punches.

    • christmas duck says:

      Well at least they’re announcing it as ripper related DLC from the outset rather than as a DLC about “the history of women” and then just changing it later. \bit-niche

  9. Eight Rooks says:

    Yeah, put me down for “Assassin’s Creed fan but deeply troubled about this” too. Christ, I hated From Hell – Dan Brown levels of vacuous smugness, just with more academic rigour* – but I could never accuse it of being gratuitous, insensitive or sensationalist. Even the film (which, conversely, I actually sort of liked despite all its flaws) didn’t seem anything like as tone-deaf as that trailer.

    *Disclaimer: not, not, thrice not an Alan Moore fan, acknowledge his technical skill, have never read anything he’s been involved with that I actually enjoyed.

  10. drygear says:

    “20 years after the events of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, ‘Jack the Ripper’ has embarked on a brutal reign of terror that shocks London to its core and threatens the very existence of the Brotherhood of Assassins.”
    That right there is what I hate most about the series. It’s cool that it goes to different historical periods, but then everything ends up being about the Assassins and the Templars. It worked in the first game because of the setting but they’ve been wedging it into every time and place they can.
    Not only does it make history boring by reducing the conflicts to two boring sides, it makes the Assassins really boring. They’re not a group with their own agenda and culture, they’re just always on the right side of history.

    • Thirith says:

      There’d be interesting (if pulpy) material there: a rogue member of either faction believing that they are actually furthering their cause by the murders (a bit like William Gull’s delusions in From Hell), an uneasy alliance between an Assassin and a Templar who disagree with each other about how best to help society but agree that the one committing these crimes must be stopped, the underlying theme of how abject poverty and notions of class contribute to an environment that fosters systematic violence towards women and the marginalised…

      • Thirith says:

        In general, the games’ stories and characters are most interesting when they drop the stark good/evil distinction between the factions, when they show how either side can descend into dogma and when they humanise the characters beyond their faction allegiances. There were some nice examples of this in Black Flag. I wasn’t as over the moon with that one as many, mainly because I missed the grand architecture of big cities, but in terms of storytelling Black Flag did a lot of things right.

  11. ffordesoon says:

    Welp. We all knew this was coming.

    I feel like this would be at least marginally more interesting if Jack weren’t a gurning pantomime villlain with a goddamn bag on his head. I mean, if you’re going to do an AC Jack The Ripper story, at least make him a sadistic rogue Assassin or something. I realize that still sounds exploitative, and it is, but at least it would make him a more interesting cartoonish antagonist. I mean, the inevitable “You enjoy all the killing, don’t you?” speech would at least have a bit of bite as the epilogue to a game in which the player spends tens of hours unquestioningly stabbing people they’re told are Bad.

    But no, we can’t even have that level of teenaged nuance in this thing. The Almighty Player must be a Hero.

  12. pepperfez says:

    Can we please, please have reached peak sexualized-violence-in-games now?

  13. Distec says:

    Looks good. Keep your daughters lock up, RPS.

  14. Turkey says:

    I’m not a huge fan of the sci-fi aspect of AssCreed games, but I think if it was done right, it would be kind of a neat twist if Jack the Ripper was not actually a person, but a virus introduced into the simulation.

  15. montorsi says:

    Well this sounds awful. Just reading about the crimes brings to mind some of the worst imagery possible. I would have hoped if they put him in the game it would have been more abstract and less sensationalizing the perpetrator of heinous crimes.

  16. LennyLeonardo says:

    The forensics exhibition at the Wellcome Collection was utterly sublime. Worth it for the Frances Glessner Lee model murder houses alone. Interesting how Jack is the bad guy in this DLC, whilst the 2 protagonists will have surely racked up 100x his body count by this point.

  17. iainl says:

    And so begins yet another story in which our fictional heroes end up killing Jack The Ripper, then covering it up in such a way that History records it as him just never being heard from again.

    At least they’re not time-travelling from the future, for once. Well, unless you call all that animus nonsense time-travel.

    Maybe he’s jsut got the overflow from all the Hitler-killers.