With Assassin's Creed Syndicate's Evie, we’ve finally got the first female assassin to feature in a main Assassin’s Creed game. Aveline de Grandpre and Shao Jun have led spin off titles previously but Evie Frye will be the first female hero to join the ranks of Ezio, Edward and co as an upfront lead.
The twin sister of Jacob Frye, Evie has her own story missions and skill tree and can be switched to at any time in London’s open world. She favours stealth over the instant violence of her brother and while we don’t know much about her weaponry, like Jacob she’s is a relentless Assassin and armed with the new rope launcher for hurtling up the sides of buildings like a Victorian Batgirl.
The idea of twins is a new kind of narrative for the franchise as the two criminal assassins take over London with their gang, the Rooks. "One of the things that we wanted to do from the beginning [was have two protagonists]. We were thinking 'how can we tell the story differently?',” says creative director Marc-Alexis Cote. “I absolutely wanted to bring a new perspective, and I think having a female protagonist is great for that. Because the minute we start [asking] 'how would Evie react to that?' it brings us in a different mindset than we traditionally are in."
Ubi isn’t revealing much of Evie’s story but we do know that she and her brother both arrive in London in 1868 at the end of the Industrial Revolution to take back the city from the Templars. "I think we have something different to tell if we tell the story of a brother and sister and their relationship," explains Cote. "I think there was a fresh story to tell there….I did not want the story to be about romance."
Last year’s Unity was famously overshadowed by the ‘woman are too hard to animate’ scandal when creative director Alex Amancio explained the lack of a female character by saying, “It's double the animations, it's double the voices and double the visual assets [...] It was really a lot of extra production work,". Understandably, it didn’t go down well.
This year the team are studiously avoiding the issue, deflecting questions with the kind of diplomacy that could end war forever if used in the right places. Asking about what it was like to be working on a female assassin during last year's headlines we got this response from Cote: “Since the inception of this game we’ve had Jacob and Evie as those twin characters. Assassins have many thousands of animations so we’ve been focussing on building a credible Evie and female protagonist for our players to enjoy. So I have to say I was more focussing on delivering this experience for our players.”
Pelland, on the other hand, says that the twin angle was always there: “Right from the start. Two and a half years ago we said ‘let’s talk about the story of Jacob and Evie Fry.’ For us, this is the best way to tell our story. It starts with the twins and within that mindset this is how we build a game. This is how we build the world of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.”
We're promised much more info on Evie later in the year with the current screens showing her frustratingly absent from the Victorian London skyline. Her positioning on the boxart also sees her standing behind her brother Jacob, who takes centre stage. It'll be interesting to know how the story will be split between the pair and the different gameplay styles of each Assassin.
For more Creed info take a look at the ways that Assassin's Creed Syndicate is changing everything we know about the series.