Still Wakes the Deep Review: Survival Horror in the Pitch Black Sea

Terror on the High Seas - Harsh ocean storms and the lurking threat of transformation turn each dripping corridor into a flesh-festooned nightmare.

Developer The Chinese Room has established themselves as masters of intimate, story-driven experiences. Previous works like Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture placed more emphasis on soaking in atmospheric landscapes and unraveling cryptic plots than traditional gameplay. Their latest, Still Wakes the Deep, trades the English countryside for a 1970s North Sea oil rig but retains their specialized style.

You step into the boots of Cameron “Caz” McLeary, an electrician stationed on the remote Beira D rig. It’s Christmas time, but something feels off. Tensions are high between the crew as they struggle to keep things running in harsh conditions.

Just as Caz hopes to depart, disaster strikes. The drilling unleashes something disturbing from the deep. Strange mutations begin spreading through the rig, warping the infrastructure and inhabitants alike into nightmarish horrors.

With escape routes collapsing and friends transforming before his eyes, Caz discovers the true terror comes not just from the creatures but from this claustrophobic vessel itself. To survive, he’ll need to delve deeper into its rusting bowels to unravel the sinister secrets lurking in the lights and creaking steel. The Chinese Room ratchets up the frights but retains their focus on crafting an immersive story, this time with oil rigs and sea monsters adding new scares to their formula.

The Deep Sea Mystery

Cameron “Caz” McLeary finds himself in deep water as strange events unfold on the remote ocean oil rig he calls home. As an electrician aboard the towering structure known as the Beira D, Caz is used to the daily dangers that come with life on the treacherous North Sea. But nothing could have prepared him or the tight-knit crew for the eldritch horrors that emerge from the inky depths below.

Caz is a complex man, with doubts weighing on his mind. Recent tensions with his wife leave an unease that lingers even in this environment far from shore. He keeps to himself more than most but shows fierce loyalty to those around him, like a wolf guarding its pack. Working to keep the rig’s faltering systems online is challenging enough without supernatural interference. As creatures from the depths invade their world, Caz’s usual coping mechanisms are pushed to the limit.

Though no stranger to danger, surviving this ordeal will test even Caz’s considerable grit and resilience. With few outlets for his worries and the crew dissolving into chaos, he must silence his own demons to save whomever he can. Inner turmoil and outer terrors clash as he navigates collapsing corridors swarmed by monstrosities both alien and tragically familiar. Some were once coworkers, their agonized pleas mixing with attacks as twisted flesh consumed former friends.

A tight ensemble cast brings the crew to life, each with layers that emerge through strong Scottish accents and lively banter. Though the odds seem stacked against any escape, bonds of camaraderie could make the difference between life and a watery grave. As night falls to plunge the rig further into shadow, Caz searches for answers and allies and hopes against hope that someone will yet see sunrise.

Offshore Horror on the High Seas

You find yourself in the boots of Caz McLeary, an electrician aboard the aging offshore oil rig, the Beira D. Like the rusting steel structure itself, Caz has seen better days; arguments at home have left him stressed, while tensions with his boss are reaching a boil. Yet nothing could prepare him for the aquatic nightmare that will soon grip the rig.

Still Wakes the Deep Review

From the moment you gain control of Caz, Still Wakes the Deep immerses you in its setting through ingenious first-person gameplay. Wandering the cramped crew quarters and creaking walkways gives a real sense of being there as the storms rage outside. Using the ‘look behind’ button to peek over your shoulder at every skittering pipe adds to the tension.

Navigating this nautical nightmare presents its own perils. Paths are narrow as you shuffle along grinding metal, always a slip away from plunging into the churning ocean depths. Interactive puzzles like operating heavy machinery or switching ballast valves break up the pacing, though the answers are rarely obscure. Some platforming sees you inching across beams dangling over nothingness, the winds howling as waves crash far below.

While progression is linear, inspecting every rusty nook and cranny rewards background lore notes, further fleshing out each character’s life before disaster struck. But not all stories end happily, as rig residents transformed by otherworldly forces now prowl the halls. Though no combat is possible, stealth sections see you evading these monstrosities, crawling through tight spaces on breath’s edge.

So embark on a thrill ride aboard this doomed drilling device, navigating its nautical nightmares through immersive first-person gameplay. Glimpse crew banter and backstories while solving environmental puzzles. But also witness the human cost of this offshore ordeal as oil and water—and worlds—collide with chilling results.

Offshore Realism

Nothing immerses you in a story like feeling fully transported to its setting. In Still Wakes the Deep, developer The Chinese Room crafted an offshore oil rig with such photorealistic detail that you almost believe you’re really there.

Walking the halls of Beria D, you see posters hanging limply on weathered walls and smell machine oil mixed with salty sea air. Each new area uncovered offers fresh insight into 1970s rig life. Crew bunks feel lived-in, with personal effects that place you in another time. Beyond industrial complexes ringed with railings, waves crash wildly just out of view.

Characters then bring the world to life. Vivid character models animate with believable motions, whether performing tasks or conversing casually in flowing Scottish dialects. Faces communicate genuine personalities through subtle expressions. It’s easy to view these virtual presences as real people in extraordinary circumstances.

Sound design further envelops you. Driving rains and howling winds join clanging machinery in a raw industrial rhythm. Muffled dialogue navigates obstacle-filled corridors with spatial positioning. Yet escalating tension arises from unexplained sounds just beyond the normal range. Strange noises undermine any suspension of disbelief that danger won’t find you, too.

At its most unsettling, audio alone draws you into darkness. Isolated breaths and drips conjure threats unseen. Pleading voices plead to call out from the chaos; their escalating suffering is fueling your own fears. Your imagination vividly completes the horror left implied.

Through every meticulously detailed sensory element, The Chinese Room transports players to another place and time. Still Wakes the Deep fully realizes an isolated 1970s oil rig not just as a setting but as a world, making its perturbing events feel chillingly plausible.

The Weight of Fear Upon You

Unease settles heavy in your chest as you make your way through the flooded corridors of the oil rig. Water and shadows dapple the walls, each uneven surface a looming threat in your wavering beam. Behind each shutter, an unseen assailant might wait to drag you shrieking into the deep. No place feels safe with your lifeblood chasing you ever onward.

Fear has a visceral texture in Still Wakes the Deep, gripping tight as the churning sea. Developer The Chinese Room wrings tension from every drip and groan, keeping nerves frayed. Relentless storms batter the hull, waves snarling just beyond sight. Inside fares a little better—flickering bulbs and creaking joints seed doubt in each darkened vein.

Far worse than phantoms imagined are the true terrors that hunt your dwindling crew. Twisted flesh and fangs, which were once friends, now hound your steps. Pleading rasps and mangled screams echo their ransacked humanity, a trauma that digs deep. Their designs impose a lingering horror—corrupted anatomies realer than any fiend conjured. A glimpse sends dread rooting for hours, their dreadful strength ensuring no place feels secure for long.

Isolation confronts you at every turn. With escape an ailing dream and rescue ever further, loneliness comes to feel a physical weight on beleaguered shoulders. Only a desperate will to survive and duty to those lost keep panic from rising like the restless brine. This oppressive isolation breeds distrust, leaving none beyond suspicion as corruption spreads its shroud.

Through its unrelenting atmosphere and disturbing foes, Still Wakes the Deep sinks jaws deep into the bone. Muted suffering and grim resignation permeate a desperate plight to find firm footing, even as all stability continues to slip beneath the rising tide. Here, fear proves far stronger than any foe, its specter looming over all with the terrible surety of an inexorable end.

Offshore Memories

The haunting isolation of an oil rig at sea makes for an inherently creepy setting. Still Wakes the Deep capitalizes on this claustrophobic atmosphere from the start, immersing players in a meticulously recreated 1970s North Sea platform. Authentic details like weathered machinery, thick accents among the crew, and even the ship’s log transcribed in Gaelic—nothing is left to doubt about the authenticity of this world.

It’s a credit to The Chinese Room’s knack for bringing environments to life that feelings of unease arise even before disturbing events unfold. The close confines of the rig are unsettling in their realism. This grounding in realism, though, is both a strength and a weakness. Complex characters like Caz feel genuine, tugging at heartstrings during vulnerable moments. Yet constraints on player choice can distance some from these unfolding human dramas.

Relatedly, tension springs from recognizable hazards that trigger flight-or-fight responses. But paradoxically, familiarity with horror tropes provides inoculation, lessening shock value. More innovative scares are needed to keep seasoned players truly on edge. Where the story excels is in the sorrowful details that linger long after, haunting like memories of those left behind.

All in all, Still Wakes the Deep is a chilling technical achievement that transports viewers to a fully lived-in world. Though not the fullest experience for those seeking creative freedoms or constant frights, it offers a memorable glimpse into ordinary lives disrupted by darkness. Fans attracted to thoughtful worlds and character focus will find much to appreciate in its unflinching portrayal of human perseverance against terrors both natural and unnatural.

Oil Rig Nightmare

Steel walls creak under the roar of turbulent seas as electrician Caz McCleary finds himself stranded on the deteriorating Beira D oil rig. After strange tremors emerge from the depths, the rig’s crew succumbs one by one to gruesome transformations. As friends mutate into fleshy horrors, Caz must pick through the claustrophobic corridors and chambers to escape unrecognizable threats lurking in the darkness.

Still Wakes the Deep excels at crafting an immersive 1970s North Sea setting. Authentic Scottish accents envelop players in a working community coping with hazardous conditions. Attention to period details like worn furnishings and weathered machinery makes exploring the rig compelling, even if paths are strictly linear. Lush lighting and realistic storms further the isolating ambience. Yet as monsters materialize, tension derives less from scripted scares than from unnerving vocalizations as cursed coworkers recall lost humanity.

While the story plays out predictably, strong voice acting carries emotional weight. Caz feels grounded yet likeable, facing insurmountable odds, and his troubled relationships add layers. Stealth sections effectively crank up pulse-pounding dread. Some sequences, like flooded areas, cause unnecessary deaths in the atmosphere. But for most of the compact runtime, Chinese Room maintains a vicious, claustrophobic panic that lingers long after the credits.

For those seeking an intimate, visually stunning fright-fest with heart, Still Wakes the Deep delivers a harrowing deep sea monster tale. Committed performances and a tangible setting will immerse players in Caz’s desperate offshore ordeal, even if jump scares prove spare. Fans of atmospheric horror should feel confident braving this oil rig nightmare.

The Review

Still Wakes the Deep

8 Score

Although its narrative follows familiar beats and exploration feels stifled at times, Still Wakes the Deep succeeds in crafting an intense and unsettling survival horror experience through strong atmosphere, visual polish, and committed performances that bring its isolated offshore setting and scrambling protagonist to life. Chinese Room has once again proven their expertise in draping delicate interpersonal tales over meticulously detailed environments, keeping viewers constantly on edge with their claustrophobic antagonists lurking around every corroded corner.


  • Immersive 1970s setting and attention to period detail
  • Strong atmosphere and visual design
  • Authentic Scottish accents and dialogue
  • Engaging and grounded protagonist
  • Tense stealth and survival horror gameplay
  • Emotionally impactful story and voice acting


  • Linear-level design that discourages exploration
  • Some sequences, like flooded areas, cause unnecessary deaths.
  • The narrative follows familiar horror tropes and beats.
  • Lack of variety in enemy encounters

Review Breakdown

  • Overall 8
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