Still Wakes the Deep (PS5) Review: The Thing From Another Video Game

Our review of Still Wakes the Deep, developed by The Chinese Room. Available now for PS5 (reviewed), Xbox X/S, and Windows.

Still Wakes the Deep (PS5) Review: The Thing From Another Video Game


A working-class horror thriller in the vein of Alien.


It’s okay, but offers little which hasn’t already been seen before.


Horror diehards may find something to like here, but the lackluster thrills – and unsatisfying storytelling – will likely disappoint.

Still Wakes the Deep (PS5) Review: The Thing From Another Video Game


Indie studio The Chinese Room is known for their generally well-told, narratively innovative, first-person games which favour storytelling over complex gameplay. As a rule, TCR games feature a lone protagonist roaming through a strange, occasionally hostile setting while trying to unravel the mystery of what brought them there, and/or whether they’ll ever make it out alive.

Dear Esther, which has (not entirely inaccurately) been described as a “walking simulator”, is my favourite and the most poignant, although Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which takes place in the wake of a mysterious mass disappearance, is nearly as moving. Conversely, titles like Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and, now, Still Wakes the Deep, apply the TCR touch to a horror framework, leaning into the fear of being left alone.

Unfortunately, Still Wakes the Deep, the studio’s first full-fledged title since 2015’s Rapture, is probably the weakest entry in their catalogue; not quite well-told enough to be truly compelling, and not scary enough to deliver on its wonderful premise – a mysterious object is uncovered below an oil rig in the North Sea, precipitating a series of horrible events.

Still Wakes the Deep (PS5) Review: The Thing From Another Video Game


Much like Alien‘s cast of “space truckers”, Still Wakes the Deep centres on a crew of blue-collar workers (most of them Scottish) not even remotely equipped to deal with invasions of the alien/monster variety. Protagonist Caz (Alec Newman), an electrician, is the game’s Ellen Ripley, albeit a mostly unlikeable Ripley: foul-mouthed, inarticulate, on the run – he badly assaulted somebody back home – and generally failing to live up to the expectations of his wife and two daughters.

Deep‘s setup is great, and in its opening half hour it does a good job of establishing its setting – a remote job site with a lot of lonely hard-bitten types, mostly though not exclusively men, bored and cabin feverish – and the horrifying threat of the game’s menace (details of which I will dance lightly around).

That setup, however, fails to ultimately pay off, as Still Wakes the Deep, though not particularly long, soon becomes a repetitive, only occasionally intriguing horror title obviously inspired by Alien: Isolation, but without the sophistication of execution or storytelling, and with a particularly unsatisfying ending which fails to resolve any of the game’s central mysteries.

Still Wakes the Deep (PS5) Review: The Thing From Another Video Game


There are bits of Still Wakes the Deep which stand out: the scripted chase sequences; the strong vocal performances which make the characters believable, and make you invested in their fate; the grotesque creature design, heavily inspired by that other lone-survivor-remote-outpost classic The Thing.

Deep also makes good, if infrequent use, of the game’s watery setting, occasionally sending you swimming through creepy flooded corridors, like the one good scene in Alien: Resurrection.

A few striking moments cannot, however, make up for the fact that the game is not especially scary, far too linear – the fact you’re shown a map of each new area starts to feel like a running joke, since you’ll never once be lost – and, worst of all, poorly programmed.

Caz doesn’t always do what you want him to do, the interface is inconsistent – Square and R2 are used not-quite-interchangeably, leading to frustrating moments when you press the wrong button while trying to complete an urgent task – and just plain buggy. During my playthrough, Caz would drift or spin in circles at times, and certain events seemed to trigger earlier or later than they were supposed to, preventing my progress. The subtitles also cannot be turned off, no matter how many times you toggle the menu option, suggesting some seriously unfinished coding.

Normally, the persistent presence of subtitles wouldn’t be so bad, but it actually bleeds into another of the game’s weaknesses: Deep‘s tendency to undermine any sense of tension. Subtitles give away dialogue which has yet to be spoken, and can even betray spoilers, like identifying the character whose screams you can hear in the distance. Meanwhile, the overly generous checkpointing renders all “game overs” meaningless, while the game’s stealth sequences – Caz, much to my delight, carries no weapons whatsoever – are too simplistic to really inspire any fear.

Once or twice, Still Wakes the Deep seems like it could be heading somewhere interesting. Once or twice, it even gave me a decent fright. But those moments are few and far between, and even though I was genuinely invested in Caz’s story, I’m not convinced the payoff was worth it.

Final score: 6/10 Big Shells.

Visit the official website for Still Wakes the Deep here.