Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Review

Still Wakes The Deep Review

What lies beneath

I’d consider myself someone who doesn’t mind a hard day’s yakka and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, but working on an oil rig, well that just isn’t for me. Being out on the ocean miles from shore, along with the gruelling and long work days and the likely freezing and harsh conditions doesn’t create the most inviting environment, which is why it makes for a cracking premise for a horror game. That’s where we find ourselves with The Chinese Room’s latest first-person psychological horror title, Still Wakes the Deep. But does it live up to its promise?

Set in 1975, the story focuses on Caz McLeary, a leccy (electrician) who has taken a position on the Beira D, an oil rig on offshore Scotland alongside his best mate in the hope of outrunning some troubles back home. Not long into the game Caz is given the sack, but before he can depart for home, the rig is rocked by an explosion that sees it descend into chaos. It seems that the rig got more than it bargained for when drilling for oil, unleashing a mysterious entity onto the Beira D, and now Caz must do everything he can to make it off the collapsing steel structure alive.

This rig is now your prison

Still Wakes the Deep is more than a horror story, in fact there’s a rather emotional narrative being told alongside the eldritch events that unfold. Caz will have flashbacks about his life back home and the events that led to him taking the Beira D gig, and conversations with the crew show how tightknit the team is. It helps invoke a real sense of determination to survive so that Caz can see his family once more, and the game’s poignant beats hit harder because of it.

Without a doubt, the writing and performances are the highlights of Still Wakes the Deep thanks to some terrific Scottish voice talent. It really does elevate the impact and immersion of the narrative, as conversations between Caz and his crewmates, such as ripping into the chef for being a Barnsley fan or sharing their opinions on their boss feel authentic. Those with sensitive ears beware, this a game full of swears – you’ll hear more C-bombs than if you were at an Aussie country town pub, but it never feels forced. Instead, it helps sell the characters as real, hard-working people, and what it’s like working on an oil rig.

Disappointingly though, The Chinese Room plays it safe and familiar in terms of gameplay mechanics and doesn’t attempt anything new to try and evolve the genre. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but if you’ve ever played a first-person stealth horror game you know what to expect. I just wish that a game marketed as the “return to horror” for The Chinese Room showed a little more innovation.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



The atmosphere is on point

Those with sensitive ears beware, this a game full of swears – you’ll hear more C-bombs than if you were at an Aussie country town pub

In what is a very linear experience, Caz will navigate the rig thanks to the splashes of yellow paint and equipment (the latter of which is apparently a true replication of what’s on an oil rig) conveniently strewn about. Armed with nothing but a torch, Caz will do his fair share of platforming and sneaking through the hallways and rooms of the Beira D while completing simple puzzles such as turning on generators and turning off valves. But that’s not all, Caz will need to avoid the creatures that are roaming the rig, either by utilising crawl and hiding spaces or outrunning them in chase sequences. It’s all very familiar and runs the risk of feeling dull at times, but the narrative’s tight pacing ensures that you’re quickly moving through Beira D.

However, despite being billed as a horror game, it lacks that scare factor required, with most of the gruesome action happening offscreen, and death sequences that you do witness are fairly tame. My biggest gripe is that stealth sequences are far too easy, and that lack of challenge reduces any tension built up. In saying that, the team has done a fantastic job with the atmosphere, especially the soundscape. The creaking of the steel and roaring ocean waves do create some creepy and nervous moments, particularly when you can hear the guttural screams of whatever is lurking in the distance.

Visually it ticks the boxes, with the Beira D and the thunderous ocean surrounding it brought to life with incredible detail. There’s a grainy effect that gives it an almost VHS-like feel that feels apt given the 1970s setting, and as fluoro and grotesque masses of the mysterious entity spread all over the rig, a burnt film effect will creep its way into the edges of your screen whenever you go near it. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t, but it does add to that 70s horror film vibe.

Add a bit of colour and mysterious entity to your life

Final Thoughts

Clocking in at around five or six hours, Still Wakes the Deep doesn’t overstay its welcome. The emotional narrative is well paced, well written and excellently performed, and has a satisfying ending, even if it is confusing at times. But that’s all part of its Lovecraftian appeal, and there’s no doubt that the setting plays a large part in creating that unnerving feeling that lingers like the eldritch horrors of Beira D. Unfortunately, the generic gameplay and over reliance on platforming, as well as the limited scare factor does hold it back a little, but fans of first-person horrors should definitely check this one out at some stage.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

Click here for more information on WellPlayed’s review policy and ethics

Still Wakes The Deep Review
Caught Between A Rig And A Hard Place
With a cracking setting and emotional narrative that’s expertly brought to life by fantastic voice acting and writing, Still Wakes the Deep is a solid horror title that falls short of greatness due to its generic gameplay and limited scare factor.
The Good
Oil rig makes for a cracking setting
Phenomenal voice acting and writing
Satisfying and emotional story
Impressive visuals and soundscape that amplify the atmosphere
The Bad
Generic gameplay you've played many times before
Lack of scares for a horror game
7.5
Solid
  • The Chinese Room
  • Secret Mode
  • PS5 / Xbox Series X|S / PC
  • June 18, 2024

Still Wakes The Deep Review
Caught Between A Rig And A Hard Place
With a cracking setting and emotional narrative that’s expertly brought to life by fantastic voice acting and writing, Still Wakes the Deep is a solid horror title that falls short of greatness due to its generic gameplay and limited scare factor.
The Good
Oil rig makes for a cracking setting
Phenomenal voice acting and writing
Satisfying and emotional story
Impressive visuals and soundscape that amplify the atmosphere
The Bad
Generic gameplay you’ve played many times before
Lack of scares for a horror game
7.5
Solid
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

Comments

Latest

News

Get your hands on the ninja kid in Las Vegas

News

Games like Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 are offered to encourage good behaviour

News

Prime Gaming will offer you a scant 48 hours to claim the title

Podcast

Australia's juiciest gaming podcast

Review

Kicking is good for the sole

Latest Podcast Episode

You May Also Like

Review

Kieran finds out that slow and steady does not always win the race

Advertisement