Still Wakes the Deep (PC)

From the creators of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther, Still Wakes the Deep sees The Chinese Room make a return to first-person horror as a North Sea off-shore oil rig unwittingly makes a stark discovery. Worth braving the cold & dark for? Lets take a look

Its 1975 and you play as an off-shore oil rig technician stuck out in the North Sea just off the coast of Scotland, who unfortunately has himself into some trouble when last on-shore and hasn’t been receiving the best of letters from home. This on-shore trouble leads to a fiery encounter with the boss, and upon subsequently being sacked, now makes his way to the helipad for a ride back to shore. A drilling incident on the way leads to things to take a turn for the worse as our protagonist falls into the cold sea as damage begins to rock the oil rig….

Story offers a decent mystery, not only for what is taking place on the rig, but also for our protagonists family waiting back home, as the occasional musing drops in to break up the tension of surviving. You may find some stuff difficult to follow if not privy to Scottish mannerisms, but the voice work does at least help to create a more believable scenario and ground the narrative. At only around half a dozen hours, its surely a short & sweet experience, but you will at least be invested in the game from start to finish – its a real good 6 hours.

Lumen is given a pretty big workout here, the game takes up a natural look when out on the rig in a foggy North Sea, but its after the prologue when it really gets put to use. Once you enter the belly of the beast the lack of daylight means the only light is from dull service ones, and due to the somewhat raytraced Lumen, a lot of the subsequent areas are drenched in darkness. The game looks its best here as light blends and bounces, as well as some good weather and fog, but other areas like characters models and some weak texture work do bring it down somewhat in brighter scenes unfortunately.

Audio brings things back up, Dolby Atmos support adds even more to the tension, and being someone that used to play footy with a few Scotsmen, I found the banter and voice work somewhat nostalgic. As expected of a UE5 game, the best visuals do come with a swift elbow to the jaw. On my system (R7 5800X3D/32GB/RTX 3090) 4K with high settings wasn’t too bad, using FSR instead of DLSS also allowed the use of frame gen. Sure you won’t need 120fps on a slower paced game like this, but then you won’t really notice the added latency either.

I guess you could look at this as a walking sim, but it has more in common with those first person horror adventures you see these days. There’s some chin-wagging at the start, but it doesn’t take long for you to be stuck outside in the harsh North Sea air doing some menial job or other, but as soon as you’re done you have to head inside the rig and here is when things take a change of pace.

Inside is about survival, you’ll need to sneak and hide to avoid the terrors that roam in the darkness as you head from one side of the rig to another. The darkness is thick which makes things tense as you have to rely on noise mostly, tho when something is near you have an indicator of sorts at the ends of the screen for its general direction. A head torch found early can help, if you have the cajones to risk shining that thing into the darkness. There’s not really any weapons or roundhouse kicks in your repertoire to fend off does, so you will be relying completely on choosing the right path and finding hiding spots, like lockers, to get through these tense encounters.

Like some mad cocktail of Deep Rising, The Thing, and Still Game, Still Wakes the Deep is a wee horror adventure you cannae help but be absorbed in. The work with UE5 paints some beautifully dark environments, and the voice work with Dolby Atmos support goes some way to backing it the visuals. I suppose my only gripe is that there isn’t more of it to play, half a dozen high-quality hours is fine for the price sure, but it would’ve been nice to have more to flesh a few things out. Certainly worth a look still if seeking something to keep you engaged for several hours.

4

Summary

A memorable journey out in the cold of the North Sea that curiously leaves you wanting more

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.