Still Wakes the Deep Review – Strolling in the deep

Reviewed June 17, 2024 on PS5


PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


June 18, 2024


Secret Mode


The Chinese Room

A creepy oil rig in the middle of the North Sea, the year 1975, cut off from the outside world and a dangerous, strange horrific presence around every corner makes for a deliciously horrific setting. It’s a strong premise, and one that carries Still Wakes the Deep a pretty long way, combining various fears with the always-spooky unknown of what is lurking in the water beneath you. Though it brings some serious Scottish charm from its cast and strong visual aesthetic, vibes alone can’t save this horror adventure from being another mostly meandering walking simulator with no interest in bringing anything new to the table.

You play as Cameron “Caz” McLeary, aboard an oil rig that drills something it shouldn’t have drilled and throws the rig into disarray, with a strange mutant entity taking over the bodies and souls of those within it. Early on, a letter from home indicates that your wife is unhappy that you have once again left her for work, and Caz is quickly painted as a bit of a rebel. He hates his boss but seems adored by his fellow crew members, even if a recent scuffle has placed his job in jeopardy. Some early opportunity for backstory and character development via conversations with other workers makes for a somewhat sluggish intro, but it does provide context for some of the folk you’ll be trying to save throughout the short campaign, particularly Caz’s closest mates.

“…forcing you into tight spaces, crawling through flooded rooms, avoiding tentacle-covered creatures…”

Developers The Chinese Room channel their DNA of the exploration adventure genre, which has seen them bounce between the melancholic tones of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture to more overt horror such as Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Still Wakes the Deep definitely taps into the creepy horror setting, and finding yourself effectively alone on an oil rig that is quite literally falling apart creates a palpable atmosphere. Navigating the dark corridors and fumbling your way through abandoned engineering areas deep within the rig is a naturally scary place, and that’s before you even factor in the things going bump in the night.

Still Wakes the Deep is at its strongest when it’s forcing you into tight spaces, crawling through flooded rooms, avoiding tentacle-covered creatures, and pushing aside the disgusting gory remains of your colleagues. There’s also a real charm to Caz, as he swears and drops C-bombs like only a 1970s Scot (or Aussie dinkum bloke) could, complete with words in his vocabulary that even Google Translate would struggle to find. This, along with the banter with his pals on board, goes a long way in making him feel authentic. Still, while I appreciated the dynamic between him and his closest pal on the rig, I couldn’t get fully invested in Caz’s relationship with his wife, no matter how many dull flashbacks I sat through as his descent into darkness took hold.

The overall production of Still Wakes the Deep is polished and focused, so it’s a shame that the act of playing the game itself comes off as sluggish and uninspired. During key moments, you’ll have to avoid strange mutated creatures by crawling through containers or hiding in lockers. You can throw items to create noise and distract enemies briefly, but if they see you, it’s an instant tentacle to the face and a Game Over screen. This style of no-weapon horror is nothing new, and it’s frustrating to instantly fail an area as soon as you’re spotted, with very little opportunity to run to safety.

Scripted chase sequences get the heart rate going, but rarely did I feel truly threatened by the strange creatures lurking within the oil rig. However, I did appreciate the button which allows you to swiftly do a 180 to see what’s lumbering behind you as you continue to dash forward, so you can see just how little the margin for error is should you slow down. These are all tried and true thriller methods that are effective enough in raising tension but lack inspiration. To put it bluntly, we’ve seen this all before, time and time again.

If you’re not a fan of drowning or swimming through dark waters, I’ve got more bad news for you. Still Wakes the Deep regularly forces you to deal with navigating underwater swimming segments, although the often too-dark setting means you’ll struggle to find the right path to catch your breath. There’s a fine balance with horror titles between ‘scary’ and ‘irritating’, and it veers into the frustrating territory here more often than not. It’s exacerbated by slow, clunky movement and a mechanic where you’re supposed to be able to grab hold of something to propel yourself forward, but it’s only used a couple of times and didn’t seem consistent. I actively rolled my eyes whenever I had to get back into the water again; these segments were no longer scary, just objectively not fun.

Along with survival, tasks on the ship will have you solving some basic puzzles, like operating elevators in a way that creates a climbable path, or activating switches to access new areas. It’s almost comical how, no matter who you speak with, Caz is the only fella who gets stuck with all the dangerous jobs, and you’ll move from objective to objective while taking on some mild platforming challenges along the way. Still Wakes the Deep uses the ‘almost falling’ animation a little too liberally for my tastes, almost as if it’s making sure you’re still paying attention as you clamber across another beam or up another precarious platform.




  • Authentic writing with solid delivery
  • An oil rig is a wonderfully creepy setting


  • Nothing innovative when it comes to gameplay
  • Underwater swimming sections are objectively not fun
  • Not particularly scary, for a horror game

With a strong setting, nice visuals and authentic performances, Still Wakes the Deep has all the tools to create a memorable experience, but stumbles in providing anything innovative. Its dishevelled oil rig full of mutants is always creepy but never truly scary, and while it’s not a poorly made game by any means, it’s never really exciting, either. I don’t regret my brief visit to a dangerous 1975 oil rig; but when horror as a genre is moving in some seriously impressive and unique directions, Still Wakes the Deep feels a little bit stuck in the past.