I really like the idea of releasing DLC separately from the main game. It means I can trade things in for maximum pay back and not miss out! Freedom Cry skipped the Wii U, so the PS4 release was my only opportunity to give it a go. I’m glad I did, although it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I hadn’t.
Freedom Cry takes place several years after the conclusion of Black Flag, and follows Adewale, a former slave and Edward Kenway’s ex-quartermaster upon the Jackdaw. Now an active member of the Assassin Order, Adewale’s ship is sunk during a battle against Templar forces, and he washes up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. There, he is caught up in the Maroon Rebellion against the French colonialist slave-owners, and sets about freeing as many slaves as he can.
There’s a certain satisfaction in a game where you just know that you’re on the right side. Assassin’s Creed games tend to tread a narrow moral line; I mean, those guards you just dispatched probably had families right? They were just doing their jobs. That moral ambiguity is gone in Freedom Cry. Adewale is a former slave, and these are slavers. Go forth and murder. Still ,there are affecting moments. One scene in particular was as stark and disturbing a condemnation of the horrors of slavery as Twelve Years a Slave. Adewale is a great protagonist, with the best combination of charm and nobility we’ve seen since Ezio. It feels a shame to see him relegated to DLC supporting role; he could easily have headlined his own game. Freedom Cry is a satisfying, self-contained narrative which feels relevant to the overall story of the series, unlike the disappointing Tyranny of King Washington DLCs for Assassin’s Creed III.
Freedom Cry plays basically much the same as Black Flag before it, taking place on a small stretch of Haitian coast and Port-au-Prince itself. Adewale is armed slightly differently to Edward, with the twin swords swapped for a single, large machete and the pistols for a big ol’ blunderbuss. They’re more brutal weapons than we saw Edward armed with, but satisfyingly so. New items and weapons are unlocked by freeing as many slaves as possible, with new numbers of freed slaves offering new rewards. I’m not quite certain if I’m comfortable with the horrors of slavery being quantified this way, but it is how it is. Slaves are freed in a series of ways, with some simply being one at a time as they’re transported between jobs, with others being more elaborate, such as the taking of huge slave galleys and the stealthy elimination of all the guards on a plantation.
There are some good new musical cues for Adewale, which suit the setting well, and the visuals are as nice as ever. I was surprised to find that the visual difference between Wii U and PS4 was less than I expected, with the PS4 doing very little with its vastly higher graphical capabilities. I would still argue that the Wii U is the definitive console version of the main game.
Freedom Cry is more of the same, which is fine, because I loved Black Flag. In some ways it’s quite a conservative DLC release, particularly compared to Assassin’s Creed III’s nuttiness, but it’s still a well-made, polished experience which loyal fans of the series will enjoy.