Both games put the player in charge of a militant global corporation - for which the player chooses a name and logo. Syndicate Wars, a later game, also provides a second playable entity, the 'Church of the New Epoch'. Gameplay involves ordering a team of 4 cyborg agents around gritty cyberpunk-themed cities, in pursuit of mission goals such as assassinating executives of a rival syndicate, rescuing captured allies, "persuading" civilians and scientists to join the Corporation/Church, demolishing buildings, or simply killing all enemy agents. The player must also collect funds to finance the research and development of new weaponry and cyborg upgrades, by means of taxing conquered territories in the original game, or robbing banks in Syndicate Wars. The cyberpunk megacorp in Syndicate is called 'Eurocorp'. Unlike some games, which either punish the player for civilian deaths or reward them for violent actions committed, Syndicate remains indifferent.
The Syndicate series, particularly Syndicate Wars, is noted for its attention to detail and the intricacy of its narrative. Syndicate Wars' standard manual addresses the player as a newly-hired Executive. The entire manual was designed to pull the player into the story and atmosphere as much as possible. Notable features of both games are the use of context-sensitive background music which changes to suit the mood of the on-screen action, and a high degree of interactivity, in that many objects in the first game and nearly every object in the second game can be destroyed. The visual aesthetic of both games borrows heavily from films such as Blade Runner.
The expansion pack is available for the Amiga and PC, while the sequel, Syndicate Wars is a PC- and PlayStation-only title, due to the significantly more demanding graphics engine, a heavily modified version of which was used in Dungeon Keeper.
A Bullfrog project named "Creation" took place on an alien world set in the Syndicate universe. The plot was to have EuroCorp as the antagonists, while the player, representing a third-party biologist, utilized semi-sentient dolphins to fight them. The game was eventually canceled.
In a 2006 interview at the Leipzig Games Convention for Gamespot, Peter Molyneux said that he would like to revisit some of his old efforts, but adds that it is very unlikely that will happen. But Molyneux makes one possible exception: "Aside from the licensing complications, some sort of next-gen online version of Syndicate would certainly be popular with gamers.