The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is a first-person action and stealth video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by Vivendi Games. Released for the Xbox and Windows in 2004, the game is a tie-in prequel to the futuristic science fiction film The Chronicles of Riddick. Actor Vin Diesel — who was involved in the game's development — reprises his role as that film's protagonist, Richard B. Riddick.
Escape from Butcher Bay was praised by critics, who lauded its graphics and its implementation of stealth, action and adventure elements. However, they commonly lamented its brevity and lack of multiplayer components. The game went on to win several accolades, including the Golden Joystick Award for Unsung Hero Game of the Year and the Spike Video Game Award for Best Game Based on a Movie. An enhanced remake of the game, included in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, was released in 2009.
Escape from Butcher Bay is set in the futuristic science fiction universe of the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, and is a prequel to the film Pitch Black. The game takes place inside Butcher Bay, a maximum-security prison from which no prisoner has escaped. The facility — constructed on a barren planet — contains three increasingly secure holding areas, and a subterranean mining operation.
The opening cinematic shows Riddick in hiding, having grown out his hair and beard, before the opening scene of the Chronicles of Riddick movie. He hunts an animal and after killing it, a disembodied voice starts talking to him asking him where he got his eyes. He states that he received them from a "slam preacher" and this causes him to remember his time at Butcher Bay. The game takes place in a flashback.
Another opening cinematic takes place in which Riddick is being transported for collection on the bounty. He and Johns have a brief conversation in which Riddick tells Johns that there is no way he is going to get the price he wants. Riddick wakes up as they land and stands out front of Butcher Bay waiting for the warden. He sneaks up behind Johns and breaks his neck and proceeds to escape. After getting his hands on a gun, he goes through the ventilation ducts and seemingly escapes into the desert. Everything fades to white as Riddick hears Johns saying "Rise and shine, Riddick." It turns out this escape was simply a dream...
The game's protagonist is Richard B. Riddick (reprised by Vin Diesel), a murderer recently confined in Butcher Bay. Riddick is resourceful and seeks to break out of the prison by any means necessary. His capturer is the bounty hunter William J. Johns (Cole Hauser); the two have had previous encounters. Butcher Bay's warden is a man named Hoxie (Dwight Schultz), while Abbott (Xzibit) is a prison guard disliked by the inmates. The inmate Pope Joe (Willis Burks II) is an insane old man, who lives in the sewer tunnels beneath the prison.
In Escape from Butcher Bay, the player takes the role of Richard B. Riddick and attempts to break out of Butcher Bay prison. The game incorporates elements from video game genres such as first-person shooter, adventure and stealth, and is played primarily from a first-person perspective, though the camera switches to a third-person perspective during certain scenes. Unlike many first-person shooters, the game contains no head-up display; on-screen cues are limited to flashes when a new weapon is selected, and small, white boxes that display the player character's health when damage is taken. Health can be replenished in designated areas throughout the game. By finding cigarette packs hidden in levels, the player can unlock concept art and video files.
The player may interact with and receive quests from the prison's residents, and earns information, tools and other rewards by completing quests. Violent conflict often occurs between the player, inmates and prison guards. The player attacks with Riddick's bare hands, or with improvised weapons such as shivs and clubs. Combos are created by stringing together punches. A DNA-scanning security system initially prevents Riddick from using firearms, but a limited arsenal later becomes available.
A "stealth mode" is activated when the player character crouches, allowing the player to move silently and tinting the edges of the screen blue when the player is hidden. While in stealth mode, the player can drag bodies out of sight and hide from enemies. The mode grants attacks that quickly kill enemies; the player may drop on enemies from above, or execute them from behind. During the game, Riddick acquires eyeshine, allowing him to see in the dark but temporarily blinding him if used in brightly lit areas.