The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: Although you can turn the blood effects off, it doesn't do too much to lessen the extremely violent and brutal (blunt force trauma-oriented) combat, or the many chaotic gunfights; the atmosphere is dark and gritty, with unpleasantly hostile inhabitants; it's packed with language (over two dozen uses of the f-word included); and while he might be killing men worse than himself, Riddick is essentially a cold-hearted, murderous anti-hero, showing no restraint or emotion for his actions—there's simply more appropriate games for younger teens. So I recommend this game for ages 17+.

Blood and gore: The blood spurts in thick, dark and moderate amounts when you hit, cut or shoot an enemy. Blood does linger, splatters onto walls and floors, and there is static blood smeared and splattered on floors and walls throughout. The later "Xeno" creatures spurt glowing yellow blood, and the Gollum-like "Dwellers" break apart into (bloodless but mildly detailed) limbs when dispatched. When engaged in fist fight with enemies, their faces gradually swell, bruise and bloody as your fists also bloody, and when you slash them with shivs (which can be used to slit their throats or jam in their eyes and chest—all with bloody results), their clothes will rip, with bloodstains visible around the tears. Bodies do linger, and you see many dead, bloodied (later, headless) guards and inmates scattered throughout. However, blood can be turned off by going into the pause menu, "Game," and "Gore" off—this disables all blood in cutscenes and gameplay (offline/online), including static blood on walls, floors, bodies, and objects; it does not remove bloody sounds or Dwellers' dismemberment.

Specific scenes of blood & gore:

(If "Gore" is off, these would instead be considered scenes of Intense violence).

  • Early on, you see an inmate punch a weaker man in the stomach, grab his wrist and then violently break it (and his skin) with a crunch, as he screams in agony and rocks back in forth while his blood splatters in a clean line across a nearby wall—you later see him clutching his wrist as he convulses in pain on the floor.
  • As you make your way through the rougher part of the prison yard, you see an inmate lying on his stomach as another inmate straddles and repeatedly strikes the helpless inmate in the head, causing moderate blood splatter and his death.
  • An abandoned cell with flickering lights has a headless, shirtless body pinned to the wall by a stake through its hand, with blood splattered heavily on the wall.
  • As you enter the prison's infirmary, you see two inmates lying on bloodied beds while they moan and convulse in pain—the guard then hits the men a few times.
  • You see the prison guards shoot down inmates (with bloody results) throughout.
  • After Riddick starts a riot and escapes the first layer of security, a prison guard jumps out and shoots the gun out of Riddick's hand; he dodges the guard's shots and then tackles him into a deep pit. They fall and hit the bottom, as the man's bloodied body—his blood smeared heavily on the ground—breaks Riddick's fall.
  • You see a fellow inmate put the final stitch in Riddick's injured arm's long, deep cut, causing the surrounding skin to lift in moderate detail as he finishes it up.
  • After you defeat Abbot (the head prison guard) in a quick, chaotic shootout, you see his motionless (but still alive) body lying in a large pool of his own blood.
  • While being transported to a more secure area of the prison, you see an inmate walk out of his cell, overlooking a long elevator shaft-like drop. He starts to say something is wrong with his head as he clutches it in pain, and abruptly lunges at a nearby inmate. The defending man quickly dodges, causing the crazed man to knock into a metal wall with full force, as some of his blood splatters on the spot of impact. He shakes it off and tries again, but the other dodges and kicks the crazed man down the shaft. The security turret sees this, and opens fire on the offender, as it pumps dozens of shots into the man's body, and causes him to shake and stagger backwards as blood spurts and splatters in heavy amounts onto nearby walls and floors—he drops, bloodied wounds evident on his chest.
  • As you take the elevator to a lower level, an inmate starts to panic and bang on the walls. A guard then sees this and shoots him to death—with bloody results.
  • A certain inmate named "Pink" has a heavily red, raw, burned and scarred face.
  • In a later gameplay sequence, you approach a guard from behind and then push him down a long, active fan vent, which causes him to scream on the way down as you hear a squish and blood heavily splatters, staining the surrounding area.
  • You overhear two inmate mine workers talk about how one heard that a couple other workers where beheaded by the Xeno, and then had their heads eaten.
  • You see a fellow inmate shot down after giving you a bomb—with bloody results.
  • After you blow open a hole—with the aforementioned bomb—leading deeper into the mines, a guard approaches it, looks down, sees nothing, then starts to walk away. You soon see a Xeno (large, beady-eyed reptilian creature) slowly pop its head from the hole, as it sics its parasitic counterpart (similar-looking creature, only smaller and faster with a long, scorpion-like tail) from the hole inset in its back. The creature jumps the guard, grabs and flips him over with its tail, then abruptly pulls, causing the guard's head to come clean off (with moderate blood splatter and squishing sounds); the small creature proceeds to toss the severed head to the larger Xeno creature, which then immediately swallows it whole.
  • As Riddick and a fellow inmate try to hijack an escape shuttle, Riddick's bounty hunter, Johns, makes an unexpected appearance; Johns beats the other inmate unconscious and holds Riddick at gun point. Riddick cautiously turns around with a screwdriver concealed behind his back and quickly uses it to stab Johns in the side, causing his blood to splatter and soak his clothes, as he grimaces in pain. The two continue the fight, as Riddick manages to knock away his gun, allowing the recovered inmate to pick it up and—in the chaos—accidentally shoot both of them (non-mortally). As they lie on the ground, two guards enter and shoot the inmate to death; he shakes in place, as his blood stains his clothes and splatters onto a nearby wall. It closes as the injured men talk, bleeding out on the floor.
  • After Riddick makes his cunning escape, the pursuing prison guards burst in on the prison warden's—Hoxie's—office. Mistaking Hoxie (who's tied to a chair, and dressed in Riddick's clothes, a gun strapped to his hand) for Riddick, they open fire, causing his blood to splatter heavily as he shakes in place.

Intense violence: Riddick, an infamous and—a purported—psychopathic murderer, is captured by the bounty hunter William J. Johns (a long-time pursuer of Riddick's), who transports Riddick to an off-world, maximum security prison, Butcher Bay, in order to receive (what he hopes to be) his considerable bounty. After dropping Riddick off, and meeting the prison's warden, Hoxie, Johns finds he'll need to stay longer to negotiate his pay. Meanwhile, Riddick is already thinking up methods to escape—the reportedly inescapable—Butcher Bay. To complete his escape, Riddick will have to negotiate with inmates, while he finds a way to deal with the hostile head prison guard, Abbott, DNA protected weapons and the prison's many sealed doors. However, with his mysterious new "eyeshine" ability (allowing him to see in pitch-black darkness), he has the edge; either way, Riddick cares nothing for odds, he will escape—and soon...

After completing a training sequence (while enroute to Butcher Bay prison) and being introduced to the prison's warden, you will begin your escape. And the base gameplay consists of exploring the prison while conversing with and doing fetch-quests (retrieve random items, compete in a fighting ring, etc.) for certain inmates, as to earn money and collect supplies. You'll then have to break into a mainframe and strip weapons of their DNA protection, and after making it past the first of Butcher Bay's several layers of security, you'll use your newfound eyeshine ability to navigate the darkness, sneak through vents, climb stacks of crates or ladders, or shimmy across ledges. You'll then shoot out lights, lure, sneak up on and take guards out silently (retrieve their security codes), then hide the bodies from prying eyes. When not using stealth, you'll use your weapons to combat the guards, as you refill health at NanoMed stations, use valves to disable objects and buttons to activate lifts or open doors.

You'll be combating the prison's guards (and their many sub-types, including employed mechanics), inmates, Riot Guards (prison guards encased in large mech suits), Heavy Guards (same as the above Riot types, only larger, more powerful), security cameras (equipped with turrets, and placed on walls throughout), Dwellers (bizarre, humanoid, Gollum-like creatures that run on all fours), and Xeno (vicious, reptilian, beady-eyed creatures that reside in later mines)—you'll be fighting them with your bare fists, the Knuckleduster (brass knuckles), a shiv, club, pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, the Minigun (or, gattling-gun), the Tranquilizer Gun, and grenades.

The combat system is intensely violent and mercilessly brutal, and consists of beating enemies with your bare hands (hooks, jabs, uppercuts, etc.) and adjoining blunt force trauma, finishing them off by either grabbing them by the throat or shoulders to then repeatedly beat them in the face or neck; you will use shivs or screwdrivers to slash at enemies, repeatedly stick it in their side, and then either stab and rip it out of their chests, do the same to their eye or slit their throats; you'll sneak up and snap guards' necks (with a crunch); disarm them of their weapon by forcing it under their chin and pulling the trigger; your varied arsenal to pump dozens of shots into their bodies; the butt of weapons to bash them in close quarters; the trank gun to stun them and bash them in the head or kick them while they're down to finish them off; and grenades—or explosive objects to leak gas, add gunfire: boom—to dispatch multiple enemies in one go (causing clouds of smoke, dust and bodies to fly).

As soon as you set foot in Butcher Bay prison, you know you're not there to make any friends; the guards, inmates and overseers are all corrupt and very hostile. Add this, and the prison's deadly quiet, gritty and vast but closed-in atmosphere, and it gives a strong sense of isolation and determined helplessness; no one cares for you, let alone about you, and inmates aren't going to help you if you're in a tight spot; you are in a maximum security prison. And as such, the more hostile inmates will try and ambush you in closed-off cells—or simply in main hallways—as they rush you with their fists, brass knuckles and shivs, (sometimes) tossing random (often lit) objects at you while they scream expletives and bash away—it's prison and it's brutal.

To get past the prison guards, the automated camera turrets mounted throughout and (later in) hulking, emplaced Riot Guards, you'll have to sneak within the shadows (or risk getting killed; even when armed, you can only take a few hits) as you use stealth and your eyeshine ability to navigate the dark; which can only be used effectively in darkness—if you're exposed to bright light, it'll blind you. The guards unknowingly use this to their advantage by equipping laser-pointed weapons and flashlights in the dark, and if you're detected (which isn't hard to accomplish), guards will open fire, as they toss grenades, shoot open nearby explosive objects and bash away in close quarters, all the while nearby security turrets fire dozens of deadly rounds your way. With this, the fact that you are constantly being monitored, and that you can't always shoot out the larger, greater encompassing spotlights in the more open areas, and you're never safe—you do one thing out of place and you are dead.

Enemy encounters only step up later in; you'll face many Riot Guards (men encased in large mech suits, taking dozens of more shots to down than the average guard), who pound around as they use their mounted Miniguns to tear away at your health (killing you in a couple of hits); you'll explore a pitch-black labyrinth—with only six minutes of flashlight battery charge left—while fighting off the Dwellers, as they come (smelling the blood from your maimed arm) in endless droves, trying to rip you apart with their claws; and you'll navigate an underground cavern packed with lightning-fast Xeno that come from every crevice, skittering on the floor, as they attack in groups and lash out with their long, scorpion-like tails (even after they're dead, their neon blood will blind your eyeshine). It just steps up further at the end, as you fight dozens of the prison's guards, Riot Guards and Xeno at the same time, and, at one point, you'll find yourself facing the giant Heavy Guard (a far deadlier version of Riot Guards), as it fires at you with a barrage of missiles and armed Minigun in very cramped quarters—the odds are stacked against you, and you're always outnumbered.

Lastly, as Riddick wishes to escape, he'll need to be a glutton for punishment in order to be put into further secure levels and, in turn, gain access to more resources. To do this, you can buy drugs (which can't be used) from an inmate, and then purposely get caught to swipe a keycard from the guards while they beat you; or enter a make-shift arena and compete in brutal fights to the death with fellow inmates. Riddick will also have to make some pseudo "moral" choices; a few inmates will ask you to kill (or in one instance, poison) other inmates, which you can then do (usually netting you packs of collectable smokes that unlock extras) or leave them be; and after starting a prison riot, you find a dying inmate on the floor, who asks you to put him out of his misery, you can, or let him suffer. In addition, you can try to kill any of the guards or inmates at any time, but you will get killed quickly, or (if the victim is important to gameplay) start from the last checkpoint—Riddick may be relatively "good" in comparison to the corruption around him, but in this case, that's not saying much.

The cutscenes contain a few chaotic explosions, violent prison scuffles and shootouts; and you see prison guards tormenting inmates, from kicking an inmate repeatedly on the floor, to pushing another inmate down a deep lift-shaft—for fun—as said man then screams and is electrocuted by the hot-rails below. As for age, although you can turn the blood effects off, it doesn't do too much to lessen the extremely violent and brutal (blunt force trauma-oriented) combat, or the many chaotic gunfights; the atmosphere is dark and gritty, with very unpleasant, hostile inhabitants; it's packed with language (including over two dozen uses of the f-word); and while Riddick might be killing men worse than himself, he is essentially a cold-hearted, murderous anti-hero, who shows no restraint or emotion for his actions—there are simply more appropriate games for younger teens; it's just more suited to older teens and adults.

Sexual Content: There's very brief mentions of "handjobs" and prison rape (forced or otherwise) in a couple of conversation between inmates; and, at one point, an inmate goes on a long, ignorant rant about "Sigmund Floyd," and talks on how he heard him say, "How the guys all wanted to screw their moms or something like that."

Strong language: There is over three dozen uses of sh*t, over two dozen uses of the f-word, over a dozen uses of hell, under a dozen uses of a**, d*mn, bastard and God d*mn, under three uses of p*ss and SoB, and one use of b*tch, a**hole, c*ck sucker and God. Other than the main script, the f-word is graffitied in large letters on prison walls throughout; you'll hear the f-word and sh*t frequently during overheard (often repeated) conversations between guards or inmates; these same words can be heard endlessly in a few optional dialogs between you and other inmates (press a button to repeat conversations indefinitely); and prison guards and inmates will frequently use the f-word, sh*t, d*mn, a**, and a**hole, (p*ss infrequently) while they fight and/or pursue you in combat. There is no option to turn language off.

Content review posted: 05/11/09

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