Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry PS4 Review

Assassins Creed IV Black Flag Freedom Cry screenshot

Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” was the most unexpectedly essential game of 2013. And so, despite the relative failure of “The Tyranny of King Washington,” the DLC for “Assassin’s Creed III,” the anticipation was high for “Freedom Cry,” the first story-based downloadable content for “Black Flag,” priced at $10 for those without a season pass (which is $20 and allows access to all current and future DLC). “Freedom Cry” is not the home run of “Black Flag," but it’s still a strong offering for the price point and displays the creative potential of staying in this new pirate-based world of “Assassin’s Creed.”

The Background

“Freedom Cry” takes place fifteen years after “Black Flag,” as you take control of Adewale, the former shipmate of Edward Kenway. Playing a strong, black hero in a modern action game is something notable on its own, but “Freedom Cry” takes it a step further, working in the sensitive thematic arena of the horrors of human slavery. The protagonist of "Freedom Cry" is a man who knows the pain of slavery and is hell-bent on saving his people and leading a revolution against those who have enslaved his fellow men in the West Indies. You will explore several areas of the Caribbean, primarily Port-au-Prince, and the developers don’t merely use slavery as a backdrop for an action game. It is a part of everything you do, from rescuing slave ships on the open water to the constant interruption of side missions based around the enslavement of your fellow man.

The Game Play

You’ll be on your way to a story mission (there are 9 memories to “sync”) and see a slave running for freedom, begging you to stop his captor from catching him. You’ll be able to stop slaves from being tortured, release others from prisons, and even free entire plantations. Hundreds of overseers will meet the sharp end of your machete, as combat is essentially the same, although Adewale feels like more of a powerful force than Kenway.

The Missions

The missions of “Freedom Cry” center on building a revolution and freeing your fellow man. You will add to your resistance by liberating slaves, and perhaps the most interesting new addition in terms of gameplay is that how you approach some of your efforts could cost the lives of your fellow men. If you garner too much attention during a plantation liberation, the overseers will begin killing slaves to quell a potential revolution. Your gameplay failure could lead to the deaths of innocent people.

Final Thoughts of "Freedom Cry"

“Freedom Cry.” It’s a solid 4-hour adventure (and much more than that if you choose to explore, hunt, pillage, etc. like you can in the full game for hours and hours), especially given its cost, and it looks incredible on the PS4, but the fact is that you’ve seen most of what “FC” has to show you in the first hour of its gameplay or in “Black Flag”. Adewale is a different kind of hero but he behaves in essentially the same way, even if the writers of this game make it clear that his race changes the way he must move through this world (such as the “Jailers” who are constantly on the lookout for people with his skin color.)

It’s a tough decision to make critically. Do we compare “Freedom Cry” to “Black Flag” or to other DLC add-ons? It’s not as polished or refined as the full game, but it creatively decimates most modern story DLC, even the episodic “King George” from this very franchise. With that in mind, one has to recommend “Freedom Cry,” even if just to encourage Ubisoft to not only take more risks like this in terms of subject matter but to keep coming back to this world of pirates, assassins, and human struggle.