Still Wakes The Deep is Classic Horror Goodness – Review

Alone with my thoughts... The True Horror.

All of our reviews try to be as light as they can on the spoiler side of things, but I just wanted to take a moment for this one and say I’ve done my best to make sure this one goes a step above.

If you were looking to make a horror game set on a Scottish oilrig, there aren’t many better options than a studio with Amnesia experience led by a Scotsman, and that’s what you have with The Chinese Room’s latest soiree in to the genre with Still Wakes The Deep. First Person, non-combat classic horror goodness in waves. 

Still Wakes The Deep has those old school style vibes presented in a fresh new shell. Like a Kinder Egg if it was filled with unspeakable horror. The premise, the concept, and the design are all stellar. There are scant locations I can think of that better encapsulate the intent of horror than being alone on an oil rig. It’s isolation on top of isolation, and the game uses it to every effect. You’re alone climbing around the fragile edges of the rig, simply striving for survival, eventually you might get that respite and warmth of finding another person, but to what end? They can’t help you, you’re still stuck on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. They can help slow your heartbeat, the safety and comfort found in hearing another voice. The knowledge that for the briefest of moments, you might not meet your maker. And yet, the tension is still there, that external pressure, at the edges. The uncomfortable notion of dread. 

Underwater screenshot from Still Wakes The Deep

While streaming this game, one of the things I spoke about was the trope of “Unluckiest Man, has unluckiest day” that is incredibly common in horror. A bad situation is happening, but while trying to deal with that situation, bad things keep happening on top of the bad thing. Like a lasagne of misery. Calisto Protocol is pretty egregious at this, the king of rugpulling for the sake of padding. Horror games are meant to give the air of hopelessness, the struggle, but the intent should be that it’s encapsulated by the goal you’re trying to achieve, not arbitrarily at every step on the route to the goal. Still Wakes The Deep swims in that hopelessness, it understands how to frame it. You’re given an objective and just… Get there. No trick, and that’s the beauty in the simplicity of Still Wakes The Deep, a simplicity I can understand some people bouncing off.

Still Wakes The Deep is a linear non-combat story game. Boiled down you’re walking/sneaking through areas, interacting with objects and trying not to die. The story itself if you strip away the oil rig is a horror classic as well. Bad choices in the past lead someone to a location where they seek to be better, and then realization occurs. I’m being vague for the sake of spoiler avoidance. Caz leaves his family after assaulting a man, to go to an oil rig few a few months so it cools down. There’s traditional horror character values you should be used to, and the overall story follows a traditional line. And that’s the bounce off it would be easy to see a linear walking simulator, through a classic story. If that’s a concern I’d advise Gamepass so you can dip your toe in and judge for yourself.

It might have traditional underpinnings, but the new setting of the oil rig, being used to tell a classic story for me works because I’m a sucker for that kind of atmosphere, and integrating the horror themes that it runs with are something that just speak to me on a core level. Still Wakes The Deep at times gives up on the notion of how do we escape this situation and pivots to simply “How do we survive this situation”. Those two ideas are normally hand in hand, skipping down the corridor towards the finale. We survive by escaping. It’s refreshing to see an approach taken that separates the concept. You can’t escape an oil rig if it falls over into the sea. Stabilize the situation then assess our escape. A then B. Oil rigs are complicated things, they don’t just exist, they need maintaining, and as he’s going to remind you several times while playing, Caz is good with the leccy. 

Office Screenshot from Still Wakes The Deep

Let’s talk about the rig, each section of it feels polished and considered for the purpose it’s meant to serve. The deck, with its mixture of open areas and shipping containers means that even with all that space and a sky above you, you’re not safe. The false sense of security, notions of a breath of fresh air bringing respite until you gaze out upon the wreckage and… Other things. Beneath that you have the walkways and catwalks that underpin the deck, narrow bare metal structures. The ocean below calling to you, waiting for one false move before you succumb to the waiting deep. It’s not much better inside, as you’re greeted by function over form, that beautiful exposed pipes industrial aesthetic plays wonderfully with darkened corridors and flashlights. Pipes casting shadows and hiding secrets, The interior is filled with tight claustrophobic spaces to squeeze through. Pipes enclosing you while giving you the delightful ability to still see what waits for you. Oh and don’t even get me started on this therapist’s wet dream.

Every aspect of Still Wakes The Deep feels like thought was put into it, from the larger design of the oil rig itself and the oppressively miserable Scottish weather, to smaller details like magazines, the shipping forecast and the food schedule for the week. There’s even a Gaelic localization that’s accompanied by an achievement. Polish shows in every aspect. The sound design as well is something that just helps the game excel.

There is a flaw though, a crack in that veneer, if the wording on this next bit feels too vague, I can only apologize, like I said, above and beyond to avoid all spoilers. There’s a linearity and formulaic approach to certain aspects of the game that, while not a game breaker, if you notice it, it changes things. Like seeing the wizard behind the curtain, the puppet master and the strings. It doesn’t ruin anything, as the score about to appear on the screen will show, but it does detract. I want to discuss more, but I can’t. Maybe if we had a podcast I could. I’m sure I’ll mention it in a random video later.


In Game Screenshot from Still Wakes The Deep

Our playthrough of Still Wakes The Deep took just under 8hrs and has a lower price tag of £30. During our playthrough we obtained 22 out of the 37 available achievements. You could knock them all out in 1 playthrough if you check some before hand as dying in certain ways is required. Don’t forget about there’s also one requiring Gaelic language selection. Oh, and it’s on Game Pass, which is always a plus.

Still Wakes The Deep gets our highest score yet in 2024. It’s stellar, A true horror classic that uses the themes and history it’s taking from and puts them in a new setting that works perfectly and I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before. The story driven and linear narrative of the game might be a detractor for some, but it serves a purpose like most other aspects of the game, and helps go towards building one of the best experiences I’ve had so far this year.

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Dave Spanton

Dave Spanton

Unable to juggle or whistle, Dave handles the PR side of things at LT3 and also is one of the main content creators for the site. Which means if something's broken, you can most likely blame him.

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