Review: Assassin’s Creed IV - Freedom Cry
Posted by Kathryn Johnston
Look and DLC.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was met earlier last month with smiling fans and shiny review scores, after Ubisoft delivered what is arguably the best instalment in the franchise yet. Brilliant gameplay, a stunning new setting, and a beautiful story had gamers everywhere raving that Ubisoft had finally restored their faith in Assassin’s Creed after last year’s love-it-or-hate-it chapter, Assassin’s Creed III. However, there was one part of Assassin’s Creed IV that fans were left wanting more of, and now Ubisoft have released the perfect solution to this in the form of a much-anticipated DLC; Freedom Cry.
Freedom Cry follows the story of fan-favourite Adéwalé - a former slave born in Trinidad, turned pirate, turned Assassin - approximately fifteen years after the events of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Shipwrecked in Saint-Domingue (now known as Haiti), Adéwalé finds himself once again facing the cruel brutality of slave trade, but this time from the ‘outside’. Through an underlying Assassin-Templar plotline (which we’ll not spoil here for those who wish to play this), Adéwalé finds himself aiding a woman called Bastienne Josèphe, who is helping to lead a Maroon rebellion, the sanctuary of which is located just outside the town of Port-Au-Prince.
If you’re reading this thinking “oh, former slave versus slave traders, this is going to be really dark”, you’d be right. Freedom Cry is not a happy story; it’s an eye-opening and saddening experience that will leave you feeling at least a little dazed by the end. Adéwalé’s own personal history only adds to the emotional journey, your own fury at the injustice going on around you being magnified tenfold by him (which is then translated into powerful speeches and particularly violent killings. A true Assassin at heart, is our Adé).
For those who feel as sick to their stomach over slave trading as we do, there is absolutely no shortage of slaves for you to liberate throughout Freedom Cry. At almost every corner in Port-Au-Prince, there is a slave to save. Some are being chased down by slave traders, some are being punished (for presumably doing absolutely nothing wrong), some are being auctioned off to heartless buyers. Ubisoft even included the option of buying the slaves at the auctions, but honestly we just sliced the auctioneers with our awesome machete every single time (can you blame us?).
The gameplay (never mind the story) in Freedom Cry edges on disastrously emotional toward the end; in one particular mission, Adéwalé finds himself in the lower decks of a sinking ship, racing against the clock to free hundreds of slaves that have been chained down and abandoned. There is a genuine pang of panic as you bash your buttons in an attempt to free as many slaves as quickly as possible, and a surge of sorrow when you have to hastily escape the ship, leaving many unfortunate souls to drown.
Even the little things Ubisoft added to this DLC make it all that much more meaningful, such as the slaves singing softly to themselves as they work on the plantations, or the music that plays when you synchronise a viewpoint, pulled straight from the Freedom Cry soundtrack - these little things almost make you feel like you’re playing Adéwalé’s stand-alone Assassin’s Creed game (yes, please!), rather than just a DLC.
We really had to poke and prod to find anything negative to talk about, and even then it’s little things that don’t slightly affect the quality of the DLC overall. There are a few forced naval battles which, for those of us who don’t like naval battles, can be a little tiresome after a while. There are also a few glitches here and there; a musket protruding from a mast, an NPC walking through a brick wall. Hardly anything to get your knickers in a twist over.
However, some people were left annoyed by the fact that Freedom Cry isn’t an Assassin-Templar driven story, and to that we say “good!”. Freedom Cry instead highlights the barbarism and sheer lack of humanity that existed during the slave trade (and, to a point, still exists today), which in our opinion is a great topic for a DLC, especially for a controversial game such as Assassin’s Creed. While we’re all for DLCs that are made specifically for the ‘Fun Factor’ (Far Cry 3’s ‘Blood Dragon’ DLC, for example), it’s extremely refreshing to see a team tackle a topic that educates, touches, and - in its own way - entertain all who play it. All things considered, we think this is a DLC you won’t want to miss, and it’s an achievement we take our hats off to Ubisoft for.