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Still Wakes the Deep Review

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There aren’t too many games that are set on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. And I certainly can’t think of a first-person horror adventure set on the mechanical monsters of the sea. 

It does however feel like the perfect place; tight corridors to create tension and separation from the civilised world to escape to.

Step forward The Chinese Room, already seen as great storytellers and masters of the narrative adventure genre. Still Wakes the Deep is their latest and I loved it. 

Still Wakes the Deep review 1
Still Wakes the Deep has a cracking setting

Still Wakes the Deep puts you on an oil rig, just off the coast of Scotland in the mid-1970s. You play Cameron, an electrician on the oil rig who came to work here to get money for their wife and small kids, but also to escape the police back home. We see him coming from his cabin, heading off to meet the boss on the rig. Here we get to meet a host of different characters across the vessel, from a charming cook to a horrible National Front shipmate. However, the drill hits something hard in the middle of this journey and soon the whole rig shakes, all as something becomes seriously wrong with the crew members, a strange glowing presence attaching itself to the oil rig…

The storytelling is very strong in Still Wakes the Deep. Its main story has echoes of The Thing and other sci-fi movies and games, but it drives through with its own particular brand. The dialogue and writing are full of heart, with superbly drawn characters and a deep understanding of the period and location. 

It’s a tense drama when the event happens, and I liked how I never really understood the intention of the enemy on board, what they wanted or how they came to be. I like stories where I come to my own conclusions from the clues the writers give me. And there’s no doubt, Still Wakes the Deep has a superb ending. 

Still Wakes the Deep review 2
What could go wrong?

The gameplay mixes exploration, platforming, and climbing with some stealth mechanics. It’s quite a linear affair, but it feels perfect with it. You start the game in first person, walking around the rig and meeting your colleagues while picking up info that gives you some backstory. When things go bad, the rig starts to fall apart and you will be doing a lot of parkour and platforming; jumping across different broken pieces of the walkway, pulling levers to close gas vents, or putting out fires with the right equipment.

There are some QTE events too, coming about as you go climbing, having to hold on for dear life as the rig shakes. As progress is made, further mechanics come in – a bit of swimming and some light puzzle-solving. 

Combat is non-existent, at least in terms of you attacking something. But stealth actions do take on a huge role. You will have enemies that will be stalking you and if they catch you that is the end of days. It’s good then that there are crawlways to hide under, and objects you can throw to divert attention. It’s a nice mechanic but if I’m being picky, probably my least favourite aspect of the game. That’s not because it’s not well implemented, just that it wasn’t something I enjoyed, however much the tension built. 

The visuals of Still Wakes the Deep are exquisite, full of great lighting and superb character faces. The Chinese Room has got the feeling of the oil rig completely on point, with its tight corridors and precarious platforms. And when the game heads into some older memories of the main character, it’s again cleverly done with an oily special effect. A special mention must go to some of the best sea graphics in a game yet. 

Still Wakes the Deep review 3
Yeah, prepare to get wet

The soundtrack is excellent as well, coming with a tense score that keeps you on your toes throughout. The effects are nothing short of amazing, from the creaks of the decaying rig to the strange noises that play out. The voice cast is equally good, whether that be the amazing lead artist who plays Cameron to all the minor characters; from the horrible boss to Cameron’s wife played in flashback. 

Still Wakes the Deep is a linear game, one that will take you roughly six hours or so to complete. It doesn’t have any combat and you won’t be finding out the full answers to all your questions, but what it does do is provide a masterful piece of tight storytelling, full of heart, mystery, and suspense. Still Wakes the Deep has some amazing visuals and a wonderful piece of sound design, especially in the voice work that is both haunting and full of warmth. 

Still Wakes the Deep doesn’t disappoint.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Masterful storytelling
  • Great visuals
  • Voice over
  • Platforming
Cons:
  • Stealth sections
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Secret Mode
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 18 June 2024 | £29.99
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Masterful storytelling</li> <li>Great visuals</li> <li>Voice over</li> <li>Platforming</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Stealth sections</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Secret Mode</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 18 June 2024 | £29.99</li> </ul>Still Wakes the Deep Review
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