Crude Awakening: The Horrors of Still Wakes the Deep

The Chinese Room, known for their narrative-driven games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, has delivered a masterful homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing with Still Wakes the Deep (which was covered in our 12 Games To Play In 2024 Feature). This atmospheric first-person horror game, set on a 1970s North Sea oil rig, eschews combat for a deeply immersive experience filled with tension and scares, making it a standout in the body horror genre.

Immersive Setting and Detailed World-Building

Set in December 1975, Still Wakes the Deep plunges players into the gritty, realistic environment of the Beira D oil rig. The game’s mise-en-scène is meticulously crafted, from the ghastly 70s décor to the leaking machinery, making the setting feel tangibly real. This detailed world-building is a significant achievement, creating an atmosphere where you can almost smell the oil and rust.

The protagonist, Caz McLeary, is the rig’s electrician with a troubled past. His character is well-developed, with personal issues like a failing marriage and a run-in with the law that add depth to the narrative. The supporting characters, such as Caz’s cockney buddy Roy and the communism-loving Trots, are equally authentic, contributing to the game’s believable social environment.

No Combat, But Plenty of Tension

In a bold move, Still Wakes the Deep features no combat. Instead, it focuses on traversal and evasion. Players spend much of their time navigating the labyrinthine oil rig, moving through industrial hoists, air vents, and claustrophobic corridors. The tension is palpable as you hide and run from mutated former crew members, reminiscent of Alien: Isolation.

Despite the lack of combat, the game doesn’t skimp on scares. The threat of the unknown and the grotesque transformation of crew members into monstrous beings keep the player on edge. The use of Unreal Engine 5 brings the game’s visuals to life, with realistic environments and high-quality voice acting enhancing the immersive experience.

Authenticity and Gritty Realism

One of the game’s standout features is its authenticity. The dialogue, filled with Scottish slang and profanity, is both humorous and grounding. Words like “bahookie,” and “scunnert” add a layer of cultural realism, making the characters and setting feel lived-in and genuine. This authenticity extends to the gameplay, with tasks like operating heavy machinery and jimmying locks requiring straightforward inputs that feel appropriately physical and immersive.

The game’s pacing is another strong point. At around five hours long, it maintains a tight, compelling narrative without overstaying its welcome. The story unfolds primarily through phone calls and environmental storytelling, keeping the player engaged and moving forward.

Atmospheric Sound Design

The audio design in Still Wakes the Deep is exceptional. The voice acting, predominantly by Scottish actors, is natural and convincing. The sound effects, from the creaking of the rig to the horrifying noises of the mutated crew, are unsettling and immersive. This soundscape significantly contributes to the game’s atmosphere, heightening the sense of dread and urgency.

A Few Blemishes

While the game excels in many areas, it’s not without its flaws. Some players may find the frequent traversal and evasion sequences repetitive. There are also occasional glitches, such as getting stuck between scenery, which can break immersion. Additionally, the swimming sections, which are quite prominent in the latter half of the game, may not appeal to everyone, especially those with thalassophobia.


Still Wakes the Deep is a triumph of atmospheric horror and immersive storytelling. By focusing on character-driven narrative and environmental tension rather than traditional combat mechanics, The Chinese Room has crafted a unique and compelling experience. The game’s authenticity, from its detailed 1970s setting to its profane Scottish dialogue, sets it apart from other horror titles.

While it may lack the traditional gameplay elements some players expect, its strengths in narrative, voice acting, and sound design make it a memorable and engaging experience. Still Wakes the Deep is a must-play for fans of body horror and atmospheric storytelling, offering a fresh take on the genre that will linger with players long after the credits roll.


  • Immersive visuals and sound design
  • Authentic Scottish dialogue and performances
  • Well-paced journey through a believable setting


  • Repetitive traversal and evasion sequences
  • Occasional glitches
  • Prominent swimming sections may not appeal to all

Still Wakes the Deep is a masterfully written horror game dripping with atmosphere and character, making it one of the most gripping and nerve-shredding experiences of the year.

  1. I love for a fact that Still Wakes the Deep is a horror game. Horror is my favourite video game genre and from the looks of things, the game offers something great to play with its gameplay. Yeah, bugs and glitches is a thing for games of such standard but as long as it doesn’t break the game, it’s not a big deal.

    1. I will definitely play this game as long as the bugs don’t get on my nerves. That is what would make me want to have a chance of mind on the game.

  2. Well this is for horror lovers. What is interesting is that they manage to make such combat needing game without combat. So basically what players will be doing is to avoid the monstrous beings without any weapon. I’m no fan of horror though, suppose the lovers will find it enjoyable.

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