Escape from Butcher Bay is set in the futuristic science fiction universe of the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, and is a prequel to the film Pitch Black. The game takes place inside Butcher Bay, a maximum-security prison from which no prisoner has escaped. The facility—constructed on a barren planet—contains three increasingly secure holding areas, and a subterranean mining operation.
The game's protagonist is Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), a murderer recently confined in Butcher Bay. Riddick is resourceful, and seeks to break out of the prison by any means necessary. His capturer is the bounty hunter William J. Johns (Cole Hauser); the two have had previous encounters. Butcher Bay's warden is a man named Hoxie (Dwight Schultz), while Abbott (Xzibit) is a prison guard disliked by the inmates. The inmate Pope Joe (Willis Burks II) is an insane old man, who lives in the sewer tunnels beneath the prison.