Still Wakes the Deep – Lovecraftian Terror on a North Sea Oil Rig

Still Wakes the Deep - Key Art

“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles.” – Christopher Paolini


Still Wakes the Deep is the newest game from The Chinese Room, creators of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Little Orpheus and Dear Esther. It is set upon a North Sea oil rig full of Lovecraftian horrors.

Developer: The Chinese Room
Released: 18th June 2024
Price: £29.99

Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, PS5
Available on: Steam, Epic, Microsoft, PlayStation
Engine: Unreal Engine 5

Still Wakes the Deep Screenshot - Oil Rig


Still Wakes the Deep follows Caz McCleary as he works as an electrician on a North Sea oil rig. The date is 23rd December 1975 and there is still plenty of work to do for a boss who is currently gunning for him. As the team is drilling, they penetrate something unknown causing the rig to shake tremendously as the horrors are unleashed upon the vast structure. The game centres on McCleary’s endeavours to find a way off the rig and escape the strange Lovecraftian abyssal horror that is consuming it and simultaneously mutating and killing his colleagues.

The narrative is delivered through the gameplay and interaction, the visuals and scenery, a few notes and inspectable objects, but mostly through dialogue. McCleary also suffers several surreal and trippy flashbacks that give glimpses into his life at home and the relationships he maintains there. The various characters are all diverse, unique personalities with their own beliefs and backstories and this helps create a solid, and well-rounded game world to explore and be a part of.

Still Wakes the Deep Screenshot - Rennick (Boss)


Still Wakes the Deep has varied gameplay and draws on aspects from a range of genres. The walking simulator mechanics are prominent and a lot of the game is about traversing the environment and understanding the narrative through the scenery and dialogue. In addition to this, there are a number of mechanics typical of horror games such as using distraction techniques, hiding, and stealth to avoid enemies and make progress. This also sometimes involves light environmental puzzles. There is no combat but players will be required to use their reactions in certain QTE-style incidents as well as in a few adrenaline-inducing action-based segments such as chase scenes.

The player’s interactions are integral to the story and while the game is pretty linear, with minimal opportunities to explore freely, every facet of the game is used to progress the narrative and further envelop the player within it. The experience as a whole is very creepy and sinister, and there are points in the game that will be sure to raise the heart rate of those playing. There are occasional jump scares but these are not heavily relied on to instill fear and more subtle and effective methods are more prominent.

Inside the rig, the scenes are fairly dark, a flashlight is available and does not require resources but the dramatic lighting and contrast put limits on visibility that increase the levels of apprehension, putting the player on edge. This is further emphasised by the colourful distortion that affects the edges of the screen when the player is near the anomaly or afflicted crew members.

Still Wakes the Deep Screenshot - Anomaly


Still Wakes the Deep offers fantastic visuals that verge on photorealism. The attention to detail is phenomenal with intricate textures, atmospheric and realistic lighting and environmental animations such as tarpaulin blowing in the wind that really bring each scene to life, fully immersing the player and helping to create a sense of foreboding. The imagery itself ranges from mesmerising views of the North Sea and expansive oil rig to grotesque mutations and ‘monsters’ and horrific gore. It is an exceptional showcase of Unreal Engine 5, but also, of course, of the amazing skill of the artists and developers involved. The weather effects are especially impressive, whether it is the rain falling on different surfaces, the wind blowing, or the raging ocean below, the overall result is outstanding.

The soundtrack is full of emotive and moving tracks that engage the player in the narrative and the protagonist’s struggles. The music favours dramatic strings and is incredibly poignant in places. The OST is the work of the obviously talented Jason Graves but in places is reminiscent of the works of Jessica Curry who scored some of the studio’s earlier titles. The sound effects help to fix the player within the game world, from the sounds of the ocean, and the brutal weather conditions, to the gruesome and visceral sounds of the game’s horror elements, they are fully believable and often terrifying.

The voice acting in Still Wakes the Deep is superb. All the characters have distinct, credible voices and the Scottish accents and vernacular seem authentic and genuine. The emotions conveyed through dialogue and monologue throughout the game, fear, sadness, and disbelief to name a few, are all convincing and further immerse the player in the narrative.

Still Wakes the Deep Screenshot - Corridor


Still Wakes the Deep is a truly phenomenal experience. It offers polished, bug-free gaming that will take around six hours to complete. The aesthetics are outstanding with realistic imagery and animations, a beautifully emotive soundtrack, immersive scenery, and fantastic voice acting that brings each character to life and creates a real emotional investment in each of them. The gameplay is engaging, varied, and thoroughly entertaining and the horror elements are delivered flawlessly seamlessly tying into the narrative.

The sense of fear and anticipation that the gameplay, narrative, and styling instil in the player is impressive, especially as it does not rely on tired tropes or clichés but rather a subtle and original combination of techniques. This is easily one of my favourite games of 2024 so far and it offers all of the sincerity and passion one might expect from an experience crafted by The Chinese Room. Fans of multiple genres will easily enjoy this game and I highly recommend it.

Looking for more horror games? Why not check out these reviews:
Martha is Dead – Disturbing New Psychological HorrorThe Outlast Trials – A Disturbing Psychological Survival HorrorThe Chant – A Terrifying Struggle for Survival Between Dimensions!

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