Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry
Top Critic Average
Backed by the production values of 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag,' while highlighting some filthy all-too-recent history puts 'Freedom Cry' well above what usually passes for single player DLC. That 'Freedom Cry' also provides a stellar way for those unfamiliar with the franchise to experience the best of its current product, means it's perfect for those who haven't played 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag' at all, which this review score reflects. Even so, Adewale's tale only scratches the surface of what could have been.
So though it doesn't feel like it's had the same devotion as other stand-alone spin-offs, such as the sequels to Assassin's Creed II, Freedom Cry is certainly worth playing for an alternative perspective to Kenway's booty-grabbing adventures. Just be wary that it may leave you wishing for more.
It's easy to imagine a big-budget game tackling slavery with the subtlety of a hammer, but Freedom Cry is an emotional triumph...with some ethical issues.
Adéwalé has his moments, but the real draw here is in the expansion of free-form gameplay both on land and at sea, meaning Freedom Cry succeeds at what it set out to do.
In bringing the challenging subject of slavery to the forefront of such a blockbuster franchise, Ubisoft has shown that games are the perfect vehicle to reopen discussion and confront darker moments of history. Freedom Cry may not be particularly long or radically different from Black Flag but as a companion piece it feels important, imbuing its protagonist with a desire for retribution and justice that bleeds through the screen and inhabits your own persona. For that reason alone it deserves your attention.
Freedom Cry is pretty much another four or five hours of Black Flag, but this time in the capable shoes of Adéwalé. A self-contained tale about the human catastrophe of slavery is an abrupt turn from the original's happy-go-lucky plundering style, but the game's mechanics adapt relatively well.
Despite its issues, both technical and philosophical, I'm giving Freedom Cry a "must play" rating. I think it's an important start in tackling such a difficult and tragic topic via the medium of interactive entertainment. Few companies are brave enough to even bring up topics like slavery and genocide in a real-world setting. You should play it, and you should feel uncomfortable, angry, and sad while playing it. Adéwalé may not have been a real person, but this is our history, and the reality of slavery was even more brutal than the game depicts. Freedom Cry may stumble, but it opens up some important discussions that we should be having as gamers and human beings.
In the end, the DLC is $9.99, or double that for a season pass. While the story is compelling, it's also fairly light on a meaningful denouement. I enjoyed my time with it, but I can't help but feel like it could have waited a little longer to polish off some of the bugs, integrate the companion app (it's unsupported for the entire adventure – no map, no fleet things, etc.) and give us maybe one more mission to add at least some level of closure. I enjoyed my time with Freedom Cry, and I suppose the fact that I want more of it says something.
Adéwalé is a compelling hero, and one of the few black protagonists in games that isn't simply a gangsta with a heart of gold trying to protect his hood.
I recommend Freedom Cry to anyone who has ever hoped for a better story within the Assassin's Creed franchise. There are still plenty of technical hiccups and basically all the exploratory freedoms of Black Flag are now gone (which was Black Flag's best quality), but the story more than makes up for it.