As a fan of the franchise that hasn’t yet played Black Flag (it’s on my shelf still wrapped – my gaming backlog is getting out of hand), I was excited to see that Ubisoft was releasing the Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry story DLC as a standalone purchase, as they did with last year’s Blood Dragon. Once again the company proves that it is not averse to taking risks, as Freedom Cry tells the harrowing tale of a man named Adewale fighting to save his brothers from the clutches of slavery.
Freedom Cry is set years after the events of Black Flag, and protagonist Edward Kenway is only mentioned a few times throughout the roughly five hour campaign. Adewale intercepts a Templar package, but gets caught in a brutal storm and washes up on the shores of Port-au-Prince. Upon seeing the way his people are being treated, he resolves to put an end to the madness – or at least save who he can before it’s too late.
Those who enjoyed sailing the high seas in Assassin’s Creed III will find plenty to love about Freedom Cry, as sinking and plundering ships is a main component of the gameplay here. Naval warfare missions were some of the best parts about AC III, and the gameplay has only been refined since then to include underwater diving and harpooning. While you’ll still spend plenty of time running around on land, thankfully there’s a decent amount of variety to the missions. Side missions have you stealing keys from guards to free slaves from cages, stopping an escaping slave’s pursuer, liberating entire plantations, and even taking over slave ships and freeing over 100 captives at a time. While some reviewers have expressed disdain regarding how freed slaves are treated as a form of currency — the more slaves you save, the better upgrades you can unlock — I thought it was wise to give players an incentive to liberate as many as possible outside of the constraints of the main story.
I was happy to find that this is very much Adewale’s tale – there is no sign of Abstergo or even the Templars anywhere in Freedom Cry. Given how frequently players were pulled out of Connor’s tale in Assassin’s Creed III to learn about modern-day proceedings, I felt overall more immersed in Freedom Cry’s storyline. Not to mention that having the DLC all wrapped up in one neat little package (as opposed to spread across multiple episodes, as in AC III’s DLC) allowed me to get fully absorbed in this powerful, emotional tale.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry is a great DLC expansion for those who enjoyed Black Flag, but even more so it’s a great sampler of gameplay for those who want to see what the full game is like without plunking down $60. While the world map is a bit more constrained here, and playing as Adewale unfortunately doesn’t feel much different from playing as any of the past series protagonists, there is a compelling tale here that will inspire you to see Freedom Cry through to the very end.