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Video Game / Escape from Butcher Bay

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Wanna live? Get a shiv.

"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 Butcher 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. It was essentially a Mission-Pack Sequel to the first game, and included an Updated Re Release of Escape from Butcher Bay with improved graphics and some gameplay tweaks.

Escape From Butcher Bay contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Personality Change: Riddick is a lot more stoic and cold here, compared to his movie counterpart.
  • Admiring the Abomination: After Riddick bombs the elevator a couple of guards are escorting him in, it crashes into a deep, subterranean part of the planetoid inhabited by large and extremely vicious creatures. Both guards only have the torches mounted on their weapons to see with, while Riddick can, of course, see everything with his eye shine. When one of the guards is effortlessly grabbed and ripped limb from limb by one of the monsters, Riddick simply murmurs "beautiful..." in an awestruck manner.
  • 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.
  • And I Must Scream: Triple Max, where the inmates are kept in cryo sleep and only let out for two minutes a day, with a system to automatically sedate prisoners when their time is up. Riddick describes it as "Sleep without rest."
  • Auto-Doc: NanoMED Plus stations which will inject a user with nanomachines to repair injuries nearly instantly. They only contain enough to restore four blocks of health.
    "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 Bad: Hoxie, the Warden of Butcher Bay. Everything and everyone in Butcher's answers to him, and he's the final threat Riddick has to overcome before escaping the prison.
  • Big Red Button: These are on everything that you need to interact with in the video games.
  • Border Patrol: Trying to run into the desert in the very first level will result in Riddick blowing up on a mine.
  • 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.
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Riddick kills Bam, Abbott takes him to an interrogation room with the notion that he and his men are going to beat him to death. He's very wrong, but you can't say Riddick didn't warn him.
    Riddick: You don't know what you're fucking with.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: In the HD remaster of the game, counter-attacks don't work on melee combat bosses (i.e. Rust, the fight club opponents, and Abbott), although you can still interrupt their attacks with regular attacks as long as your timing is good.
  • Covers Always Lie: Those cool knives Riddick's holding on the cover? You never get anything so nice (the best bladed weapon you can get your hands on is a scalpel.) And forget about Dual Wielding.
  • Cryo-Prison: In Butcher Bay prison, the most dangerous and escape-prone convicts are kept in cryogenic suspension for the duration of their sentences and let out only a few minutes each day for exercise in a sealed room. Which is all that Riddick needed in order to escape.
  • Daydream Surprise: The opening level of Escape From Butcher Bay.
  • The Dragon: Abbot, the captain of the guard, runs the day to day operations in Butcher Bay to keep the prisoners in line. In true Dragon form, Riddick disposes of him long before facing off with the Big Bad.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: In the Guard Quarters section at the end of Act I, Riddick can disguise himself as a guard and walk among them, quoting the "wolf in sheep's clothing" tale.
  • Dual Boss: At the end of the section where you pilot a Riot Guard Powered Armor, you fight a pair of "Flamingo" combat droids. Also, the Final Boss of the game are a pair of custom guard robots known as Hoxie's Personal Guard.
  • Enemy Chatter: The guards in Butcher Bay can sometimes be overheard talking about how bad they think their job is, demonstrating that they're not all just sadistic bullies.
  • Expy: The mechanical armored Riotguards are very clearly modeled after Hans Grosse.
  • 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!"
  • Fake Difficulty: As good as the game is, the enemy AI has not aged well, which makes the stealth sections even harder than they're supposed to be, since the guards can easily spot you without even directly seeing you, or just by exposing yourself, even if they cannot see you.
  • First Rule of the Yard: Within a day of arriving in the Single-Max level of Butcher Bay, Riddick has openly challenged, then hunted down and killed Rust, heretofore the toughest inmate and leader of the Aquila Gang. This earns him the enmity of Abbot, the chief guard and The Man Behind the Man to Rust, and directly leads to a Prison Riot because of the resulting Evil Power Vacuum.
  • 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 (2004). 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.
  • Hated by All: Abbott is hated by all the inmates and even the other prison guards for being a sadistic jerkass who abuses his power whenever he feels.
    • Rust is also quite hated by everyone for the same reason as Abbott, to the point where the inmates actually root for Riddick to kill him.
  • Hate Sink: Abbott, Hoxie, and Rust.
  • 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.
  • Heart Container: There are a few souped-up, one-time use NanoMED stations that give you an extra block of health.
  • 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).
  • Idiot Ball: All the assault rifles carried by the prison guards have DNA protection, meaning that if any inmate (Riddick included) tries to grab hold of one, they get electrocuted to death. Unfortunately, they forgot to add DNA protection to the pistols and shotguns, which partly leads to their downfall.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: They just had to name the prison "Butcher Bay" to make its nature abundantly clear.
  • Meaningful Echo: Riddick tells Johns about how "Statistically speaking, [space shuttle] landings are the most dangerous." as their shuttle begins to enter the atmosphere. At the end cutscene of the the game, Riddick (who is now piloting the shuttle) he comes close to repeating the same line, but instead says "Statistically speaking, takeoffs are the most dangerous."
  • 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.
  • More Dakka: The above Heavy Guards with their gatling guns. Near the end of the game Riddick picks up a detached gatling gun with four thousand round ammo pool. This is the one gun in the game that doesn't get a laser sight (added in the Dark Athena version), and it doesn't need one; with the extremely high rate of fire and how wide the spray is, it will hit anything vaguely in the middle of the screen.
  • 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.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Hoxie, the Warden of Butcher Bay, never actually fights Riddick personally and spends the entire game residing in the corporate offices of the prison. Even when Riddick faces off with him at the end, Hoxie attempts to flee and let his robotic guards deal with Riddick.
  • 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 (it does stun them though - but not in the remake).
  • 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 included with Assault on Dark Athena, where this trope is played straight.
  • Organized Crime Sidequest: In both the Single Max and Double Max levels, certain well-connected inmates offer Riddick the chance to assassinate rival contacts or even entire gangs. While these one-off missions have no relevance to Riddick's goal of breaking out - or the overarching sci-fi plot of the franchise, for that matter - they're a useful source of cash and smokes.
  • 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.
  • Prison Changes People: Enforced. The eponymous prison is separated into three security levels, the third being a Cryo-Prison where the most troublesome inmates are stored. Long-term exposure to cryostorage seems to have a degenerative effect on the minds of inmates, likely exacerbated by the fact that they're only allowed a minute of daily exercise with limited stimuli; as a result, the few inmates Riddick speaks to in this level are barely coherent. Charlie Green, a man who was considered reformed enough to be released back into Single Max is a broken, disconnected husk of his former self who can only mutter things about birds and occasionally keel over.
  • 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.
  • Rank Scales with 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.
    • Rust makes a decent Wake-Up Call Boss, having boss-level health, a unique moveset, and being better at countering after blocks than regular enemies.
  • Rapid DNA Test: The guards' assault rifles zap you if your genes aren't in the system.
  • Regenerating Health: Your health bar is divided into blocks, and as long as one block of health isn't completely depleted, you can regenerate it by standing still for a few seconds. Restoring a block instead requires using NanoMED Plus station.
  • Saved by Canon: Johns has to survive this game so that he can get killed in Pitch Black. One of the first signs that Riddick's first escape attempt is All Just a Dream is that he snaps Johns' neck right at the start.
  • 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. More of an awakening, really.
  • Sentry Gun: The Double Max stage of the Butcher Bay prison is guarded by red sentry guns wherever Riddick goes. Killing foes requires getting targets in specific secluded places.
  • 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 mutants 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.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Butcher Bay guards' assault rifles are DNA-encoded, so trying to pick them up will only sent a jolt of electricity through Riddick's body. A prisoner in the first level learns this the hard way when it fries him. Eventually subverted when Riddick sneaks into the Mainframe room and registers himself, allowing him to pick up and use guns. However, the guards are smart enough to delete Riddick's DNA entry after he's captured at the end of Act I, and he won't be able to use the guard rifles for the rest of the game. Pistols and shotguns are not DNA-encoded, but are only found in maintenance or administrative areas that prisoners are not expected to be able to access. Riddick does eventually find an old prototype assault rifle that pre-dates the DNA-encoding technology down in the mines, but it has a much smaller clip size, is much less accurate, and has a higher rate of fire, making it more of a shotgun in assault rifle form.
  • Updated Re Release: This game got two.
    • The "Developer's Cut", released on PC six months after the Xbox version, adds a mech combat section in the middle of Double Max, a few more cigarette packs, and a developer's commentary mode unlocked upon completion. It also takes advantage of the machine's higher power, with higher resolutions and more advanced shaders.
    • The version of Butcher Bay that's included as part of Assault On Dark Athena has improved HD graphics and the extra content of the first PC version, 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 (this was in the original PC "Developer'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.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Downplayed with Warden Hoxie, who does run one hell of a Hellhole Prison, but because he's a Non-Action Big Bad, he spends the entire game sitting in his office while Abbott, the head of the guards, actually brutalizes the prisoners. All things considered, he's rather restrained considering Riddick keeps killing dozens of his men and even provoked a Prison Riot.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: On three seperate occasions it looks like Riddick's just about to make his getaway, only for the first getaway to be revealed as All Just a Dream, and the other two being foiled at the last second by Johns as Riddick's brought back and sent to a more restrictive area of the prison.