The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director's Cut (PC) Review

By Athanasios 06.11.2019

Review for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director

This critic has a love/hate relationship with movie franchises, to the point that the extremely elitist, hipster side of him doesn't even want them to exist, as after the initial film, every single sequel, tie-in, etc, tends to be more of a product than a piece of art - even when it comes to some truly fantastic sequels, like Terminator 2, or Aliens. What lies at the bottom of the franchise barrel? Video games. From the era of the Atari 2600, to the eighth generation of consoles, movie-licensed titles have been one of the industry's many plagues. Every now and then, however, the tradition is broken, and something like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay comes in. Cubed3 follows Vin Diesel's famous anti-hero, as he tries to escape the titular prison, in the complete, Director's Cut edition, on the PC, in this retrospective review.

Seen Pitch Black yet? If you don't mind some B-list sci-fi action, with Vin Diesel playing a badass anti-hero, give it a go. Better yet, you can avoid getting your seat full of pop-corn and soda stains, and play its prequel, the, for some strange reason, forgotten FPS/adventure, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, which follows said badass while he tries to breakout from a triple-max, and full of thick-necked criminals, desert prison - a mission that sheds a tiny light into Riddick's past, including how he got his luminous eyes. Sure, like in the original film, as well as its sequel, the story on offer isn't something special. This isn't 2001: A Space Odyssey, but your average action movie set in space, yet the presentation is actually top-notch.

Screenshot for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director's Cut on PC

While not a "true" RPG akin to Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, or Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it's definitely great for the "simple" action-adventure it wants to be. You will truly feel the tension of living in a claustrophobic cage, surrounded by highly dangerous criminals, sadistic guards, and mechanical eyes that focus on your every move. Immersion and atmosphere are the key words in here, two things that are aided by a graphic engine that's visually equal to Doom 3's. Butcher Bay is one more "mundane" world made of steel and concrete, but it's a realistic-looking one, and that's what matters here. The animation is also excellent, especially when it comes to Riddick, with the motion capture provided by Diesel himself.

The high-quality production value and attention to detail is also evident in the sound department, with some great, meaty SFX, as well as some very good voice acting. Immersion is also aided by the almost invisible HUD at hand, which has ammo displayed on weapons, health appearing only when harmed or healed, and a bluish tint added when going in stealth mode, rather than a game-y notification icon. It's also nice how using Riddick's famous 'eyeshine' slightly alters all colours, and makes light sources brighter. These might seem like small details that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is, above all, a shooter with a cinematic vibe, something that it totally nails, all things considered.

Screenshot for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director's Cut on PC

For those who haven't figure out that already, this isn't GTA. You can't just run-and-gun your way to freedom - and that's were Riddick's highly skilled mind and body come to save the day, while also making you taste how it is to be a resourceful badass. Yes, Riddick can shoot, and it feels good doing so. It's much better, however to destroy all lights, silently approach an enemy, and break his neck, or even turn his own gun towards his face. Note that, since ammo is a rare commodity, you'll have to mainly resort to stealth - and if all else fails, take out your shiv, and start fighting mano y mano, with a surprisingly deep and well-polished battle system that revolves around blocking, creating openings, and counter-attacking.

While not a highlight, the enemies add to the fun as well, with human soldiers taking cover, using flashlights in the dark that blind you when you use the eyeshine, and responding to any mess that you've left behind - oh, yeah, this is one of those games that require hiding bodies from plain sight. There are some "stupid" foes on offer that let the player enjoy some simple, trigger-happy time, as well as some mechanical beasts that need you to play your cards a bit smarter, in the end, however, this is still something that's more about hiding in the shadows rather than blowing stuff up, evident at how the level design occasionally provides the means to follow a different path, either via a ventilation shaft, or by moving sideways while hanging on the edge of a bridge, for example.

Screenshot for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director's Cut on PC

Plenty of people (mainly professional critics) complained about the lack of a multiplayer mode when this came out, however it's exactly this focus in the single player experience that made this such an enjoyable title. Some (yours truly included) also accused this for having a disappointingly small length, but, while definitely a short trek, in reality that's not a bad thing, as the game doesn't overstay its welcome this way. As mentioned before, this is less of an RPG or "pure" adventure, and more of a movie in video game form, so it's admittedly tiny duration turns out to be more of a blessing than a curse. What everyone can agreed on, though, is that Butcher Bay has an extremely low replay value on offer.

This isn't something that you can play again and again in order to discover new ways to experience - it's a pretty straightforward deal that provides little reason for a second play-through. Completionists can try to find all cigar packs, which unlock extra content, like artwork and making-of videos, with each one found having a snarky warning like "May reduce ability to listen to questions" or "Sure death after usage, or turn on the movie-like commentary mode, however, there isn't anything else to do here. The good news? This title has been updated, enhanced, and bundled along its sequel, the equally enjoyable, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, giving you the perfect incentive to try two great action-adventure shooters, at the price of one.

Screenshot for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Director's Cut on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

In terms of replay value alone, there aren't many FPS games worse than The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. On the other hand, though, its focus was never to provide replayability, but to make you feel like an action hero of a sci-fi film, and in that regard, it's one of the best of its kind. Just make sure you get its sequel, which includes this one as well, in its new, improved form.

Developer

Starbreeze

Publisher

VU

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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