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Video Game: Escape from Butcher Bay

"Darkness... are you afraid? I'm not. The dark is afraid of me."
Riddick, talking to a guard

Escape from Butcher Bay is the first of two games set in The Chronicles of Riddick universe. It is a prequel to the events of Pitch Black. Riddick must escape from the infamous Butchers Bay prison, a feat no-one has ever accomplished.

The facility, constructed on a barren planet, contains three increasingly secure holding areas, and a subterranean mining operation. A captured Riddick is brought to the prison by none other than bounty hunter William J. Johns.

Whilst Johns meets with the warden Hoxie to discuss the matter of payment, Riddick quickly gets to grips with his surroundings and starts a riot. In the confusion, he escapes into the sewer system below the prison. There, after fighting his way through mutants, he meets Pope Joe and a woman named Shirah, eventually gaining his trademarked "shined" eyes. Over the course of the game, Riddick must overcome each increasing security level of the prison before making his escape.

Created by Swedish developer Starbreeze Studios and co-developed by Vin Diesel's own game studio Tigon Studios, the game is a notable aversion of The Problem with Licensed Games, being praised for its story, gameplay, and visuals, and gathering overwhelmingly positive reviews.

A second game based on the Riddick movies was released in 2009, Assault on Dark Athena.


Escape From Butcher Bay contains examples of:

  • Air Vent Escape: Someone even helpfully left directions in there.
  • The Alcatraz: Butcher Bay is a triple-max security prison facility built on a barren desert planet. The point of this place is that you don't leave. Its highest security level is especially bad; the prisoners are kept in cryogenic sleep inside vats (prolonged contact to which seems to have damaging effects on one's psyche and/or mental abilities), and are only awakened for exercise five minutes per day. Riddick finds an exploitable flaw in the system and gets out.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In both of his boss fights, Abbott has noticeably more health than any other human enemy in the game. He's still fairly easy to bring down both times, though.
  • Autodoc: NanoMED Plus stations which will inject a user with nanomachines to repair injuries nearly instantly.
    "NanoMED Plus: We treat you right when the world treats you rough."
  • Bag of Spilling: You often lose any NanoMED cartridges you have in your inventory when transitioning between levels.
  • Big Red Button: These are on everything that you need to interact with in the video games.
  • Brick Joke: Riddick goes into Pigsville (the guards' living quarters) through an entry point in the shower room. Later in the game you can overhear two guards complaining that the showers are closed because of this.
  • Daydream Surprise: The opening level of Escape From Butcher Bay.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Riddick can disguise himself as a guard, quoting the "wolf in sheep's clothing" tale.
  • DVD Commentary: In the Developer's Cut, at points in the game you'd come across a bubble, and when activating it would get to hear one of the designers talk about the level you're in/enemies you're fighting/scene you're about to see etc etc.
  • Eye Scream: In the beginning of Butcher Bay, there is a locked cell in which two inmates known as the Torture Twins are... entertaining a guest. If you listen long enough, you can hear him screaming "NO, NOT THE EYES!"
  • Framing Device: The original game opened with Riddick during his years on the ice planet he was hiding on at the start of The Chronicles of Riddick. The Furyan woman in his visions tells him to remember his past, and what happened in Butcher Bay. Then the rest of the game begins, which is actually one long flashback. At the end Riddick awakens and is told of his destiny, and sees visions of the Necromongers. The framing story was dropped in the 2009 remake to better connect it to Assault on Dark Athena, its immediate successor in the chronology.
  • The Future Is Noir
  • Gang Initiation Fight: Riddick has to use the prison variant of fighting to gain respect.
  • Gorn: The games are, uh, pretty graphic.
  • Guide Dang It: Finding all of the cigarette packs and bounty cards in the two games.
  • Healing Shiv: In the two games, the NanoMED stations refill your health by jabbing you in the neck with various sharp objects. The upgrade stations go the extra mile and jab you in the chest with even more needles.
  • Hellhole Prison: The game takes place in the Butcher Bay triple max security prison, housing the most notorious criminals in the galaxy. It's divided into three levels, each one more hellish than the previous: the first level is pretty much a "normal" prison (although madness-inducingly horrible and violent), the second is a series of tunnels infested by murderous alien bugs where the prisoners must mine for precious ores under terrible conditions, and in the last (saved only for the very worst of the worst) the prisoners are simply kept frozen in cryostasis for the rest of their lives (except for a two minutes long exercise period per day in an extremely well secured area).
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: They just had to name the prison "Butcher Bay" to make its nature abundantly clear.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Heavy Guards, which are basically walking tanks with a gattling gun and missile launchers. Riddick commandeers one at the end of the game.
  • Nintendo Hard: Hard mode. Stealth is an absolute must. Luckily, the only thing that changes is enemy damage. Their health and intelligence remains the same.
  • No-Gear Level: The majority of Double Max has you sneaking through heavily guarded areas without any firearms. You are able to purchase a stungun about 3/4ths of the way through, but it's not suited for straight combat, and useless against Powered Armor (but it does stun them).
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: In Escape from Butcher Bay Riddick survives a massive fall by grabbing a guard with him and holding him in front of him, which resulted in the guard hitting the ground first and taking the impact, leaving our favourite anti-hero unscathed. Badass as this may be, it landed him in a dark, underground subterranean level of the prison filled with nasty aliens with a dwindling flashlight and not much ammo. Bonus points for actually mentioning this trope, word for word.
  • The Old Convict: Riddick encounters an old prisoner in the Single Max section, who among other things asks Riddick what his first kill was like ("that's between me and him" being Riddick's answer), and offers Riddick a reward if he gets rid of a troublesome inmate. In a Shout-Out to The Shawshank Redemption, he's named "Red".
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted. The game keeps track of how many magazines you have, instead of the individual bullets. Reloading a weapon therefore sacrifices any bullets that were remaining in the original mag. This was taken out in the Updated Re Release, where this trope is played straight.
  • Powered Armor: The Riot Guards. Riddick steals one of them in the expanded game and goes on a rampage in a weapons testing lab in the Butcher Bay facility.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The guards mostly seem resigned to their work and as much a part of the system as the inmates. When Riddick infiltrates Pigsville and the Butcher Bay mines, you can catch a lot of them going on about mundane things, grief that Hoxie and Abbot are letting the prison go to hell, and complain they haven't had a shower yet because an inmate broke in there.
  • Scenic Tour Level: The opening of the game after the tutorial with you are being led into the prison, but can look around on your own. The developers said it was their tribute to Half-Life.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The middle section of the game is easily the most difficult. The first 1/3rd has a relatively merciful learning curve, and the last 3rd is a short action section followed by an extended sequence where you're given an incredibly powerful mech to mow down guards with.
  • Second Hour Superpower: Riddick's Eyeshine treatment.
  • Shoot the Dog: During the riot putdown, the player comes across a mortally wounded prisoner whom they have the option of mercy killing.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: After escaping Single Max, Riddick ends up in a sewer, where the game becomes a survival horror shooter, as you dodge aliens with a small amount of ammo, and no cover, as almost every wall has a door for them to come out of, leading to the best solution to be running like hell.
  • Updated Re Release: The version of Butcher Bay that's included as part of Assault On Dark Athena has improved, HD graphics, as well as a number of subtle but meaningful changes to gameplay. The most obvious difference is significant tweaking to the melee combat to emphasize counter-attacks. One Bullet Clips have also been added, as well as a new mech combat section in the middle of Double Max (this was in the original PC version (the "Director's Cut"), but not in the Xbox version). The final boss fight has also been somewhat improved. A comprehensive list of the changes is available here.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Escape From Butcher Bay allows you to kill many of the inmates you encounter. You can systematically empty the entire Single Max prison wing one person at a time, and your only punishment will be a temporary incapacitation each time. You can even contrive circumstances to kill a fair number of inmates in Double Max (such as disabling the lights in the diner and then making your way back there to go on a killing spree in the dark), which normally makes this extraordinarily difficult due to being chock-full of wall-mounted gun turrets and almost every area being highly visible.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Just try harming the inmate in Triple Max however, or any of the other ones in Double Max.

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