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Still Wakes the Deep Review: A Masterful Deep Dive Into Horror

Still Wakes the Deep is a terrifying and innovative psychological horror experience like no other.
Still Wakes the Deep Review: A Masterful Deep Dive Into Horror
(Picture: The Chinese Room)

Still Wakes the Deep is a truly unsettling and innovative horror experience that might not be genre-defying, but displays mastery of the fundamentals that make psychological horror titles so scary and successful. The new game, by Amnesia developers The Chinese Room, takes place on a Scottish oil rig as players shove themselves through cramped spaces, complete stealth missions, and evade mysterious terrors. Developers have described the game as "'The Thing' on an oil rig."

It's the unique and unsettling surroundings of the oil rig that really bring everything together, making it the terrifying yet intriguing horror title it is. Still Wakes the Deep definitely manages to create an immersive environment that really feels like it's out to get you; the dramatic creaking and groaning sounds are enough to send a chill up your spine. Everything around you makes you feel like you're trapped, from the ambient lighting around you to the layout of the rig.

From the moment you get past the initial cutscene and dive into the game, it becomes clear that the environments are thoughtfully and intricately detailed - everything is dynamic, and even NPCs and seemingly unimportant scenes give an impression of life and "realness."

But the game offers more than just an intriguing, unsettling environment that will both make you want to explore more, and make you anxious to do exactly that. It also provides incredible character-building; main player character Caz McLeary is believable and multifaceted, and so are the characters he interacts with. McLeary is far from an action hero, and that's part of both the beauty and the horror in Still Wakes the Deep.

McLeary's lack of fighting experience translates to a lack of combat in the game, offering an interesting spin on and quite a new approach to psychological horror. While players won't use high-tech weaponry to take down opponents, they'll solve puzzles and engage in stealth tactics, evading the monsters of the deep. The game offers both a Survival Horror mode and a Story mode, with the latter providing fewer opportunities for failure and fewer puzzles. I'm all for extra modes like this, since it means that anyone can "dive into" the game even if they just want to learn more about the story.

Still Wakes the Deep - The Verdict:
Still Wakes the Deep is an example of modern psychological and survival horror done right in just about every way possible. It's obvious that The Chinese Room has learned a lot from creating titles like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, and that expertise has culminated in the studio's best title yet.
Review code was provided by the publisher.
Reviewed on PC