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Assassin's Creed Syndicate by Austin Wintory (Review)

posted Oct 24, 2015, 8:04 PM by Koray Savas

Though the quality of the Assassin's Creed games may fluctuate from year to year, one aspect that has remained consistently great is the music. From Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe to Brian Tyler and Chris Tilton, Ubisoft ensures that the game's music is an important focus during the development period. This year's entry, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, brings on veteran game composer Austin Wintory. Most notable for his achingly beautiful score for thatgamecompany's Journey, Wintory brings new life to the franchise while still respecting the groundwork laid before.

From the beginning, listeners will notice that Syndicate's soundscape is much brighter than the predecessors. The recording is crisp and clean, allowing the orchestra to fully breathe and draw in the audience. The instrumentation is where the score's identity really lies, as Wintory's string writing is what gives the music its classical Victorian era sound. There is a primary layer of solo instruments (violin, cello, and vocal) that steal the spotlight throughout most of the album. These virtuosic passages are performed impeccably by Sandy Cameron, Tina Guo, and Holly Sedillos, respectively. How the violin and cello play off each other creates an energetic vigor that mimics the relationship of the game's titular characters, siblings Jacob and Evie. Moreover, Wintory collaborated with the Australian comedy band, Tripod, to compose the original songs for the game. These songs function as murder ballads within the game's world, and they are sprinkled throughout the album's sequence. They, along with the melodic lines of Wintory's main score, work hand-in-hand to make Syndicate the most fun Assassin's Creed score in years.

Leave it to Austin Wintory to write a harmonically beautiful yet intense action score. The sense of rhythm and motion present in the music echo that of AC Syndicate's unrelenting gameplay. You can feel the adrenaline and violence through the string writing, as well as the character's emotions through the use of vocals. Its multilayered structure succeeds on most levels, making the 86-minute runtime feel like nothing. Whether you are a fan of the games or not, this score is the perfect showcase for Wintory's talent and range as a composer.