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Still Wakes The Deep

Still Wakes The Deep

Written by Nathan Carter on 6/17/2024 for XSX  
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I love horror games, and I have played a ton of them over the years. One of the things I love is when horror games take place in unique locations. We have seen mansions, summer camps, insane asylums, but Still Wakes the Deep had me intrigued simply when I saw the location in which the game was taking place - an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. That to me is terrifying. You are miles away from salvation, and there is nothing around you except what looks like the never ending ocean. Just complete isolation from the outside world, especially since it's set in the '70s, before the advent of the internet or most forms of modern wireless communication. With Still Wakes the Deep, that isolation is palpable, but there is another danger in place here, especially when something could be lurking in the deep dark depths below. 

You play as a man named Caz. The game takes place on what I thought was a very cool location for a horror game, an oil rig in the middle of the ocean set on Christmas Day in the 1970's. Right from the start of the game, the atmosphere in Still Wakes the Deep is fantastic. From the cloudy skies, the sounds of the rig creaking, the intense wind and waves of the ocean and lack of soundtrack really kick this thing off setting the mood perfectly. If you are claustrophobic, this game will probably be even scarier for you as you maneuver around the very cramped hallways and dorm rooms of the oil rig you are working on. Things will get even more cramped as the story progresses.

The beginning of the game has you going through the halls and to the dining room, meeting with and talking with some of the other characters in the story. The voice acting here is pretty great. From your character to everyone around you, there is a real comradery between everyone, which makes sense, since they are all people living together on a rig in the middle of the ocean. The writing and voice acting reflects this. These were all characters that I instantly loved, and as you would imagine when you have a horror game... well bad things are gonna happen and all of those moments really hit because how much I really liked these characters. Unfortunately you're not gonna have a lot of time to hang out with your crewmates as almost right from the start the game is kicked into high gear. While drilling in the middle of the ocean the crew accidentally awakens something from down below and the rig gets absolutely decimated. The rig itself then becomes a maze of mangled metal, broken bridges, all while out in the middle of nowhere in the ocean with a fall into the raging ocean below meaning instant death. Help is not coming, at least not anytime soon.  

This is a first person game and most of this game is about Caz trying to survive after the rig has been completely destroyed. You'll go through various locations on the rig looking for survivors and trying to repair equipment along the way. You'll occasionally get calls on a phone from other survivors telling you what you need to do next and I really like how Caz isn't some kind of action hero. He's just a normal dude that wants to get home to his wife and kids, so a lot of the time he's scared, he has no idea what to do and really wishes this were just a horrible dream he could wake up from. There is also some light puzzle solving, but nowhere near the difficulty of something like a Resident Evil game. Most of the solutions are usually right near you and will involve having to find a key to open a door or flipping switches in a specific order to try and power up some kind of equipment. Before long though, things really start getting bad for the people on board the ship. I don't want to go into to too many specifics to avoid spoilers, as I feel this is the kind of game that works best if you go in blind, but let's just say the main antagonists of the game start showing up. 

There is no combat in this game at all, the only thing you can do is hide and try to sneak by enemies, and this can be easier said than done. If they spot you once, you are pretty much done for. Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do. You will find various objects lying around like hardhats, tools, paint cans and more that you can use to cause a distractions. Usually I found that throwing in the opposite direction of where you need to get to will cause the enemy to move quite a ways away, letting you easily sneak by. There are also lockers strew about in different areas that you can hide in. A couple of these sneaking sequences took me a few tries but it never got the point where it got frustrating. There are also sequences where you will have to run away from an enemy. There are only a couple of these and thankfully the game gives you indications of where you need to run to so I didn't fail any of these.

Speaking of which, I determined a good rule of thumb; if you see yellow on anything, go in that direction. While it's not available when I reviewed the game, I was informed that there will be a patch that adds the option to remove the yellow directional markers from the environment if you want more of a challenge. The only section of the game that I did have an issue with is a section where a room starts to flood and you have to escape before you drown. This is the only section of the game that I would say was really annoying, because once the water starts to right, controlling the swimming, while trying to get to the surface and in a darkened room really makes it a challenge. There are yellow markers around the area to guide you where you need to go, but this area took me quite a few tries to complete.  

The game is pretty short, but I will say that the shorter length feels right for this game. Right when I felt that it was starting to wear out it's welcome, I could also tell the game was reaching it's conclusion. Speaking of which, I can't give anything away spoilers-wise but man, that ending got me, especially due to the great voice acting performances and the love for these characters. This is also a story which I would say follows the rule of "less is more". You aren't going to get any explanation as to what exactly destroyed the rig and you aren't going to be exploring and picking up files every five seconds to get all the backstory in the game and the lore. You do get some backstory about Caz sprinkled throughout the game, especially when you learn the reason he is on the rig in the first place, but don't expect any wacky twists or anything like that. This isn't really a mystery game, it's a story about survival first and foremost.

Due to the lack of motivation to return for repeated runs, I will say that unless you want to speedrun it, I don't feel there is much replay value. There aren't any real collectibles, no diaries or a codex, no large amounts of files you need to find and read. With that said, I don't think that's a bad thing. This game really focused on quality over quantity and while this may be a one and done game, the developers more than made up for it with a great game and a complete story. 

All in all, Still Wakes The Deap is a pretty great horror game. It's more about atmosphere and survival. The fear of being in this kind of situation in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight. It's a game that doesn't rely on endless cheap jump scares, though there are a couple (I think they are earned and are few and far between in the game). It's a simple story about an ordinary man trying to survive a disaster. The atmosphere and the characters are what bring this whole thing together, along with some great visuals and some gnarly body horror. I highly recommend checking this one out, especially if you are a fan of first person horror games like Outlast.  

A short and simple horror game about a man having the worst Christmas ever in quite possibly one of the most claustrophobic and isolated areas imaginable. Fantastic atmosphere, great characters, and some pretty intense moments make Still Wakes the Deep a must play for horror fans. That said, don't go into this expecting some super in-depth story with twists and turns and whatnot. Your journey through the game and the will of the characters to survive is the main story, and it was one I really enjoyed experiencing. 

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively.  It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 35 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. 

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