Assassin’s Creed: Jack the Ripper PS4 Review

Despite my relative disappointment with “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate,” I still eagerly anticipated the first DLC for it, a spin-off adventure for Evie Frye and the most notorious serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper. I’m a bit of a Ripper aficionado, having taken the walking tour of the locations of his crimes in Whitechapel, and having read several books about the one who got away (do go read “From Hell” if you haven’t…it’s a graphic novel masterpiece). So, I thought “Jack the Ripper” would recreate that sense of mystery and tension that the true story engenders, and those were two elements missing from the “Syndicate” experience. From the opening scene of “Jack the Ripper,” I knew this was more “Syndicate” than anything else. Jack has been reimagined as a nearly-supernatural killing machine, a creature of the night who strikes fear into anyone around him. He’s also a supporting character in his DLC after the opening scene, as you play Evie Frye trying to track down Jack through a series of story missions and some new mechanics within side missions.

In the end, once you know this is only barely related to the real Jack in any logical way, “Jack the Ripper” is an enjoyable couple hours of gameplay for $15, and it’s worth noting that I keep coming back to “Syndicate” more regularly than other disappointments of 2015 or games like “Assassin’s Creed: Unity”. Perhaps I was too hard on it.

“Jack the Ripper” takes place in 1888 as Jacob Frye, one of the two characters from “Syndicate,” draws closer to the Rippers identity. In the opening scene, you take the role of Jack, as words splash across the screen in a replication of insanity. You can spike enemies in a way that creates fear in them and initiate Brutal Takedowns that do the same. “Jack the Ripper” is about using fear as a weapon, a clever starting point for a serial killer legacy that still strikes fear into the hearts of the world. Anyway, Jacob is captured by Jack and it looks like he might be killed.

Which brings us to Evie, the other lead from “Syndicate” and one of the best characters in the “AC” franchise. Her being the protagonist of “Jack the Ripper” is the best thing about it. Over a series of about 8 story missions, you track down Jack the Ripper and try to save your brother. It turns out that the Ripper has a relation to the assassins and the Templars. Evie has to find him and stop him before the world learns his relationship to the Brotherhood, or the whole legion of assassins could fall. Evie uses a lot of detective ability, investigating the real crime scenes from history, and you spend the majority of the game in Whitechapel, which has also been laid out with new side missions, most of which are variations on “Syndicate” missions—for example, instead of rescuing orphans from hard labor, you rescue prostitutes from dangerous brothels.

“Jack the Ripper” is fun even if it’s narratively frustrating, and includes some of the glitches of the main game. It’s unacceptable that a game in 2015 has a story mission end because the HUD won’t come up and I can’t move, but that happened here in “Jack the Ripper.” I long for an “AC” game that isn’t at least partially broken. When “Jack the Ripper” is working, it’s enjoyable, a hybrid of what worked about “Syndicate” and the legend of the real serial killer. It’s undeniably silly but “Assassin’s Creed” always have been, and, perhaps most importantly of all, it gives players a remarkable amount of content for a small amount of money. As we’re all nervously awaiting our credit card bills from holiday shopping, it makes sense to end 2015 with a deal.