Starbreeze Studios surprised the entire gaming world in 2004 when they released The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, a movie-licensed game that was actually good. In 2009, Starbreeze released the sequel to Butcher Bay, titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on the Dark Athena, packaged with a revamp of Butcher Bay.
The original Butcher Bay allowed the player to step into the shoes of anti-hero Richard B. Riddick, played by Vin Diesel in both the game and the movie franchise, a fugitive being taken to the prison planet of Butcher Bay by bounty hunter William J. Johns, played by Cole Hauser. A majority of the game involved Riddick attempting to escape from Butcher Bay. Dark Athena is a direct sequel to Butcher Bay, in which Riddick’s ship is captured by the mercenary vessel The Dark Athena, and Riddick must once again escape with his life.
Butcher Bay‘s game play is a combination of stealth and action, where sneaking up on a guard and breaking his neck from behind is usually the best course, especially since the guards can easily annihilate the player with their weapons the player has yet to possess. The lack of firepower in the beginning forces the player to use makeshift blades, such as screwdrivers or shivs, which can turn extremely deadly when in close-range fights. The element of sneaking up on a guard in a pitch black hallway and either snapping his neck or slicing his throat from behind has a sort of entertaining quality to it.
However, Dark Athena does not have the same feel that Butcher Bay did. Guns are found in some of the very first stages of the game, which makes sneaking up on guards almost worthless. The stealth element is made even more redundant since most halls are brightly lit, making stealth kills almost impossible. Many of the missions have the same “Point A to Point B and back to Point A again” feel to them, versus Butcher Bay’s variety of mission types.
Although a different feeling game than Butcher Bay, Dark Athena is still a fun game. The graphics on both games are gorgeous. Butcher Bay still looks good after five years and a new system generation, and facial features on the Dark Athena characters rival Mass Effect on how detailed they are. The voice acting by everyone is done quite well and even features John DiMaggio, the voice of Bender from Futurama, as some of the side characters. The only real problem with either of the games are slight AI issues, such as characters walking into walls.
Although the latter parts of Butcher Bay and a majority of Dark Athena play more like a first-person shooter, the two are still amazing games. Both games look outstanding, and the actors do an excellent job representing their characters. Vin Diesel’s character of Riddick is worth the play through by itself. Overall, these are two great games in one package for those looking for a stealth-action game.