The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is basically two games in one. There’s Assault on Dark Athena, obviously, as well as a remade version of Escape From Butcher Bay. The game itself is an abortion, to the point where it’s the first game I’ve reviewed that I actually quit playing before the end. I’m reviewing it despite that fact as a warning to others.

Don’t buy this game. Don’t even consider it. All versions but the GOG version are filled with horrible DRM, and even if you get the GOG version like I did, it’s still such an absolute waste of money that you’ll regret it later. I refuse to even provide a link to buy this game. See, I love stealth games. This was billed as a stealth game. It’s not a stealth game. This isn’t a failure of me not “getting” the ins and outs of stealth games, mind you—I love Velvet Assassin and Dishonored, and I even recently played through Far Cry 3 using mostly stealth.

Stealth games require consistent mechanics. This game has no consistency whatsoever. When you’re hidden in darkness and and crouching, (supposedly) unable to be seen, you become shrouded in this purple fog. This is annoying, but I’ll get into the problems with the fog itself in a little bit. The problem I want to address right now is that sometimes people will see you anyway. Sometimes people would run in and have no idea I was there, while other times they’d take two steps in, turn to face me, and shoot me in the head. That’s not the only lack of consistency, either. Sneaking up behind someone brings up a prompt for a “takedown” (your hands go out in a pre-strangle kind of way) but there’s such a narrow area where this actually appears that it’s possible—and likely—that you’ll accidentally punch/slash at them, instead, giving away your position. When you’re armed with a shiv and they have a gun, that’s basically game over, all because the game didn’t correctly register what you were trying to do. This is what happens when you have poor context-sensitive controls.

“Hey, I’ll go left and use the darkness,” right? Wrong. The game pushes you out into the light if you try, despite there obviously being space there. Pathetic.

There’s also the issue of where things actually are. In the picture above, you see a box on the right, meaning that if I want to keep sneaking around in the darkness and not jump over the box, I have to go left between the light and the window. In any other game, this would be no problem. In this game, it’s not possible. This area doesn’t exist, apparently. After trying to hug the left wall and subsequently being pushed by an invisible barrier into the light, a person ran into the room, saw me in the light (despite me trying to sidestep back into the shadows like a madman), and shot me in the head. This is how it’s not a stealth game.

Think that’s the end of the game’s problems? Nope. I’m incredibly forgiving of problems, so it takes some truly ridiculous stuff to make me quit a game once I’ve started playing. The next problem is truly ridiculous, and an issue that I’ve lovingly named “physics are a bitch.” By that, I mean that the game makes absolutely no sense as far as physics are concerned. Here’s something completely ridiculous that happened to me more than four times in an hour: Sneaking around in the shadows, I lean out from my hiding place and shoot a guard, standing with his weapon down, square in the head. This is something I love doing in any game where it’s even a possibility, honestly. The difference between other games and this one is that other games don’t afford the soon-dead character the opportunity to calculate where the shot came from, raise their weapon, and fire a perfect shot at my head before my bullet reaches them. That’s right—the bullets in this game, contrary to physics and any logic whatsoever, are actually SLOW. Slow bullets that somehow let guards get shots back at you. This is cheap beyond reason, especially given the fact that every time this happened, I was hidden in the darkness. Even if they had a full minute, they shouldn’t have been able to tell where I was. Absolutely ridiculous.

Oh, but that’s not all. I’ve been shot through physical barriers (again, while hiding in the shadows). I don’t even understand how it’s possible to release a game so sloppy that this is possible. Even if you forgive all of that, there are fundamental problems with how the game works; in one section, clearing out a room full of guards led to a “boss fight” of sorts with a guy piloting some kind of mech. “Okay,” I figured, “I’ll simply sneak behind it with a shiv and some kind of prompt will pop up that lets me finish it off, being that this is a stealth game and all.” Nope. Despite there being wires and stuff right there, it wasn’t possible. That’s when I decided that it must be a normal boss fight where you shoot it head-on with your strongest weapons. It mowed me down in seconds. Turns out the correct answer is to shoot it in the back, even though there was no obvious sign that this was how to approach the fight. The only way to get there is to either guess right, or die trying different things until you figure it out.

Normally, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I’m not exactly one for hand-holding in games, so I have no problem with having to experiment. The problem is that it’s not possible to save wherever you want because Riddick uses the much-hated system of “checkpoint” saves. Every time I died in the previous example, the game forced me to clear out the room of guards again. This got old fast. The checkpoints wore thin even faster than that, forcing me to replay sections due to cheapness like invisible barriers messing up my stealth and bullets magically going through metal boxes.

This review would go on too long if I wrote out everything wrong with it, so I’ll just list a few more of the problems I discovered with it: There are instances of things magically appearing behind you, dialogue can’t be skipped (meaning you have to listen to the voice actors’ plodding deliveries even if you read faster than that), there’s a quick load button that loads the last checkpoint despite the absence of a quick save, the story seems to exist for the sole purpose of giving Vin Diesel (who voiced the main character) random excuses to spout “badass” one-liners that come across as forced, Xzibit as a voice actor is even funnier than his career, the graphics are almost entirely washed out by horrible amounts of blur, the darkness in the game has been made so dark that it’s almost impossible to actually see anything once you’ve strategically shot out a few lights (especially with that purple “sneak” fog making things even darker)… the list goes on and on. I wouldn’t touch this game again if you paid me to.

Here’s what you should do:

Screenshots of this crappy game

 

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