Let’s open this by saying I expected the worst from Far Cry 6. With marketing that aimed to showcase every single of stereotype without the context to make the satire land, I truly expected the game to make me angry. And while it isn’t perfect, it is a game that got certain elements right—at least for me. Authenticity conversations are rife with cultural landmines. For starters, Latin American and US-born Latinx cultures aren’t the same, and each nationality has its own culture has its own shared experiences but are ultimately unique from each other.
That said, there are some noticeable things that miss the mark, like Giancarlo Esposito playing the most generic dictator imaginable and having a horrible accent that has somehow deteriorated since his time as Gus Fring. Or the fact that there aren’t more dark-skinned Afro-Yaran characters throughout the game, especially when it comes to women given the game’s Cuban influence. However, the missteps are outweighed by the things that Far Cry 6 got right. And to be honest, there are also moments that stand out that speak to elements of culture that feel like representation done right.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into some of the things that Far Cry 6 got right when it comes to showcasing elements of latinidad in its narrative and inspiration.
Language that Goes Beyond Well-Known Spanglish
Getting Spanish as a language “right” is hard, because the same way you wouldn’t necessarily hear a Southern twang from someone who lived in Boston their entire life, the dialects of Spanish used per country is heavily influenced by location and the cultures that existed before colonization. Because of this, Spanish spoken in the islands is different than Mexico and Mexico is different than South American countries and even different between Northern cities and those in the Yucatan. This nuance is something that was noticeable to me as someone who grew up hearing a very specific Tex-Mex Spanglish growing up. The use of words like coño and even Jonron’s name hit elements of the Cuban-inspired culture of Yara. That said, two of the standouts when it comes to language are the choice of when to use Spanish and when to translate.
When it comes to speaking Spanish and English, whether you’re fluent or not, there are certain words and sentiments that just hold more weight than saying it in English. For me, yelling cabrona at my dog when she misbehaves hits differently than calling her the English equivalent. And while there are a few too many coños thrown into the mix, the choice of when to use Spanish for meaning and impact works nearly perfectly every time. This is because of what I mentioned before but also because the development team made the choice in the subtitles to only translate the Spanish elements once per sequence, pushing the player to learn the meaning in every other instance.
It may seem simple, but in a country where Spanish is the second most spoken language, it’s an element that puts Spanish speakers first and asks the player to come along for the ride, similar to the captioning choices made in series like Seis Manos. Finally, there are jokes in the game (a part of its key satire that the series is known for) that only work in Spanish or will be enjoyed the most by those with cultural touchstones to the reference. Jonrón’s character design and the name are one of these moments.
The Women of Yara
This isn’t as simple as showcasing female characters in Far Cry 6‘s narrative. That’s an easy thing now (or it should be). For a story about a Latin American revolution, it’s a little deeper than that. When it comes to upsetting the status quo and fighting against dictators or colonizers, the women in Latin America have been behind many movements.
From my own culture, Las Adelitas (or Las Soldaderas) in Mexico have been a rallying cry of strong women on horseback strapped with shotgun shells that took on the powers that be. Immortalized in Ballet Folklorico’s (Mexican folk dance) “La Revolución“ and Tejano music through imagery and corridos, these women stand as a testament of strength during the Mexican Revolutionary War. While the women were expected to follow the men in their lives into battle but only run errands, clean clothes, and other elements including sex work. But that wasn’t the end of their involvement. Many of the women turned to pick up arms alongside the men and in some cases, led entire infantries of men and women corps into battle. While their images have been sexualized and mythologized now that the war is over, their standing impact on Mexico’s Revolution is indisputable.
That said, it’s the Maribal Sisters from the Dominican Republic that stand as the most analogous to characters like Clara and Jonrón in Far Cry 6. If you’re unfamiliar, the sisters are Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal and they played a vital part in toppling the brutal dictator, Rafael Trujillo—who has served as the basis for many representations of dictators in media. The Mirabal sisters were active members of the growing underground resistance against Trujillo’s regime who helped form the 14th of June Movement, named for the date of a failed insurrection against Trujillo led by a group of exiled Dominicans with the support of the Cuban government. However, shortly after the movement was officially organized, Trujillo began mass arrests of resistance figures, including the sisters and their husbands, though he later freed female prisoners as a supposed gesture of his leniency. Trujillo later had the women killed, with his henchmen making it look like a car accident and framing it as such in the state-owned media. But because of their prominent role in the revolution, “The Butterflies” instantly became martyrs to the revolutionary cause, which helped solidify resistance to Trujillo both among Dominicans and outside the island.
While it’s easy to say, “Yay! Women in games!” it’s important to recognize that the women of Yara don’t exist as just as hollow representations. Instead, they reflect the reality of the roles women played across Latin American in overthrowing governments and fighting for their communities in many different capacities.
Bringing Yara to Life through Diverse Musical Genres
A game is only as immersive as its sounds, its score, and its soundtrack. This is no truer than for Far Cry 6. As Eduardo Vaisman, the game’s Audio Director explained in the video above, the game features a duality captured in the music. On one end there are somber folk songs and military marches and on the other, there is rap and other Afro-Caribbean music, as well as the diverse genres of Latin Caribbean music that capture the vibrancy of culture in the region. While you work your way through the game, it’s clear that each element of the game is brought together by Latin American musicians that imbue the game with beautiful and immersive sounds. This is captured none more so than the inclusion of Afro-Venezuelan artist, singer, and rapper Gabylonia who’s Spanish rapping helped bring Talia to life in addition to her voice actress Mercedes Morris, who also provided the motion capture work. Talia is one of the game’s revolutionaries who serves as Clara and ultimately Libertad’s call to action. The frontwoman of Maximas Matanzas meeting her in-game we see the beauty of the music and the strength of using rap to directly confront the regime.
While the game’s largest fault was the Navid Khavar, the game’s narrative director, saying the game isn’t political, diving into the music of the game and its place in the narrative, you can’t call this game anything but. This is even more true with Vaisman and Composer Ariel Contreras-Esquivel explaining their own experiences with military dictatorships in the featurette above. But even without their words to back it up, every song, every march, every element of the music in Far Cry 6 is clearly political and vibrantly inspired by the resistance music of the people still living in countries that Yara takes inspiration from and ultimately the imposing and terrifying chords a military march can strike.
The American Dream Isn’t For Everyone
One of the key elements of Dani’s character is their push to leaving Yara. Before joining Libertad, Dani is trying to escape Yara for Miami in hopes of fleeing the dictatorship and everything that comes with it. It’s a fix for them, but it’s a choice that is continually investigated by characters throughout the game. In multiple scenarios, characters make reference to the “American Dream” and explain that it doesn’t come in Dani’s color. To make matters more nuanced, Dani learns first-hand that the revolution isn’t something to happen and end in one generation. Instead, it’s an intergenerational rebuilding of a people and one that you can’t put in your rearview even if you choose to escape to Miami.
Is Far Cry 6 perfect? No. But it is a game that goes beyond its predecessors in showcasing elements of Latin America. Representation of Latin American cultures, US-born and otherwise are few and far between when it comes to video games. In this landscape, even with its fumbles, Far Cry 6 stands up to criticism with moments that evoke cultural memories and nuances in a way I didn’t expect. Sure, Esposito’s Castillo could have done more to not be a generic island bad guy, but the cast of revolutionaries more than carry the game’s narrative with beauty and strength that is well worth playing through.
Far Cry 6 is available October 7, 2021 on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Stadia.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.