The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

These days, I think it’s safe to assume that the name Vin Diesel is all but synonymous with the Fast and the Furious movie franchise. Okay, maybe also Groot. But what may come as a surprise for those not in the know is that, at one point in time, Mr. Diesel was arguably the most prolific Hollywood actor dabbling in the video-games industry. 

That’s right, Vinny Dieselrino himself; Mr. Quarter Mile at a Time (who, it has been said, is a life-long gamer), founded Tigon Studios back in 2002, which would act as the video game counterpart to his studio One Race Films. For the next several years, Tigon Studios would have a hand in games starring Mr. Diesel and featuring his likeness and voice talent.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay is the first game in Tigon Studio’s portfolio, and it was released for the original Xbox and the Windows store back in 2004. It served as a prequel to the 2004 Chronicles of Riddick movie, which was itself a spinoff of the 2000 film Pitch Black. Pitch Black, you see, first introduced the world to the character Riddick, though he wasn’t the film’s lead.

In Butcher’s Bay, the player spends the entire campaign as Riddick, who is trying to — surprise surprise — escape from Butcher’s Bay, a maximum-security prison from sci-fi hell. Along the way, you’ll encounter fellow inmates who send you on optional side quests. These side quests flesh out the lore and offer more insight into the Riddick character, his ethos, and how he viewed the world around him.

Tigon Studios seems to mostly have served as a co-publisher/developer of sorts with Vivendi Universal Games (publisher) and Starbreeze Studios (developer). Mr. Diesel was actively involved throughout production of Butcher’s Bay, suggesting the amount of dialogue for Riddick should be trimmed to better fit the character and even weighing in against Starbreeze’s suggestion of incorporating deeper RPG mechanics.

Butcher’s Bay would go on to receive critical praise, in part for the story but also for the standout (at the time) graphics. Some would even say that as a movie tie-in, Escape from Butcher’s Bay was actually a much better product than its film counterpart.

Barca B.C.

Question Mark

At some point around 2006, Mr. Diesel and Tigon Studios were talking about Barca B.C., a massively multiplayer roleplaying game that Vin Diesel has often referred to as his dream project. As far as I can tell, this game never saw the light of day, though at some point it apparently shifted genres to become a third-person action RTS.


The next game Tigon Studios would helm was the 2009 vehicular-combat action racer Wheelman. Developer credit would this time be shared between Tigon and Midway Studios – Newcastle, with Ubisoft credited as the North American publisher.

Wheelman also starred the likeness and voice talent of Vin Diesel, as one might expect.

The Wheelman movie (not the 2017 Frank Grillo Netflix movie of the same name) was apparently going to serve as a tie-in for the video game. Both were announced back in 2006, and work was to begin simultaneously. However, despite having Mr. Diesel set to reprise his role as undercover CIA agent Milo Burik, there’s been no sign of the film. This leads me to assume that any hopes of a movie tie-in were left in the game’s dust.

Although I thought Wheelman was decent, it didn’t light the world on fire as far as review scores were concerned.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena

Just a month after the release of Wheelman, Tigon Studios would return to the Riddick franchise with The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (not to be confused with the animated Riddick movie, The Chronicles of RiddickDark Fury). This one was developed by Starbreeze Studios, with Atari receiving sole publisher credit.

A follow-up to Escape From Butcher’s Bay, Assault on Dark Athena would include a free copy of Butcher’s Bay with improved graphics. It would also further flesh out Riddick and the world he inhabited. Unlike Butcher’s Bay, Dark Athena was not a movie companion or tie-in, but would instead serve as a standalone title.

For my money, Dark Athena was a fine stealth-based first-person shooter, but it fell far short from the brilliance that was Butcher’s Bay. The inclusion of the latter game only underscored how superior Butcher’s Bay really was, in my opinion.

Riddick: The Merc Files

After being dormant for several years, Tigon Studios returned to the Riddick franchise yet again for 2013’s Riddick: The Merc Files, a top-down stealth game for iOS. Tigon was the sole developer and publisher on this one.

I personally haven’t played it, even though I consider myself a big Riddick fan and an even bigger Vin Diesel fan. Riddick: The Merc Files is currently sitting at a 51 critic score on Metacritic, with not enough user scores to generate an aggregate –so take that as you will.

As good or bad as Merc Files may be, it signaled the return of Tigon Studios after they’d not put out a game for more than four years. It was good to have them back.

Fast & Furious Crossroads

Co-developed by Tigon Studios and Slightly Mad Studios (a subsidiary of Codemasters), and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, Fast & Furious Crossroads was released for PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020, after experiencing a several-month delay due to COVID-19.

A racing/action hybrid, Crossroads would deliver its own standalone story featuring several fan-favorite characters from the movies.

Announced at the 2019 Game Awards, unfortunately Crossroads would be better remembered for its announcement (shown above) than for its not-so-great gameplay. It was with this announcement that we finally learned we’d all been mispronouncing Tekken for the last 27 years.

I’m kidding, of course.

What’s next for Vin Diesel and Tigon Studios?

Ark 2 - Vin Diesel

Tigon Studios, although far from prolific in the games industry, deserves credit for trying to merge Hollywood with video games back when most movie studios didn’t have a friggin’ clue. In hindsight, Tigon’s creatinve output seems less than impactful, as you can count their actual releases on one hand (considering Barca B.C. never made it to market). Even so, the two mainline Riddick games stand as evidence, I think, that Tigon was more than just a hobby company for a video-game-enthusiast-turned-Hollywood megastar. Although I would’ve loved to see more Vin Diesel games helmed by Tigon, I guess we’ll have to wait to see were the company heads next.

As for Mr. Diesel, the actor/gamer is starring in Ark 2, and he’s been named President of Creative Convergence for Ark 2 developer/publisher Studio Wildcard. Even though Tigon isn’t mentioned as being involved in this project, at least Mr. Diesel’s legacy in gaming will continue.

Now, if only Tigon would see to releasing a remastered version of Butcher’s Bay for the PS5…

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