If you've played any of The Chinese Room's past games you'll have an idea of what to expect from Still Wakes The Deep; something short, sweet, dripping in atmosphere and with a laser focus on the overall narrative. Well, we're here to report that despite some behind-the-scenes changes at the British developer, Still Wakes the Deep mostly delivers on everything we've come to expect from the team - and this is a perfect candidate for a spooky night in on Xbox Game Pass.

The real star of the show here is the game's setting; a Scottish offshore oil rig that's constantly coated in a thick layer of North Sea fog. It's incredibly atmospheric, and the developer has nailed that oppressive, groundhog-day feeling we can only imagine you'd experience if you spent months of your life working on an isolated oil rig in the middle of the ocean.

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Speaking of that very scenario, Still Wakes the Deep grounds its adventure in quite a personal story about a Scottish worker trying to make ends meet by taking an oil rig job. His wife isn't particularly happy about it, mind you, but what starts as honest work to provide for a family back home turns into a nightmarish scenario when the rig's potty-mouthed boss forces a worker to dig where he probably shouldn't. You get the picture.

Actually, we probably shouldn't single out the boss here. Almost everyone on this rig swears like a sailor, and that combined with a range of thick, surprisingly varied Scottish accents is very amusing. You hear more of this sorta stuff in the first part of your adventure, and it works in adding levity to what is otherwise a pretty dark experience overall. We're certainly no experts but you Scots out there should be able to point out a range of well-acted, regional voiceworks in Still Wakes the Deep.

As for the gameplay itself, well, we'll bring things back to what we first touched on. The Chinese Room is known for what many dub a 'walking simulator', and for the most part, Still Wakes the Deep sticks to that simplistic blueprint. The vast majority of your time here will be spent exploring the rig, talking to other workers, and eventually running away from 'enemies' when they come into play. We won't spoil anything beyond that.

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While we've never really taken issue with this approach — we quite like a walking sim with the right setting and storyline — we do take issue with just how linear Still Wakes the Deep is. Some of this team's previous efforts in Dear Esther and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture at least allow a bit of player freedom as you move around environments - even if those games feature largely linear stories too. Still Wakes the Deep constantly forces you down a very strict path, and we left disappointed that we couldn't explore the rig a bit more on our own terms. We get why the team went in this direction, especially as the game reaches its conclusion, but we'd have liked more agency to explore in the early parts of our adventure.

This linear approach is also quite heavily signposted. You remember back in the Tomb Raider reboot where the game's 'white paint' objective markers became a bit of a meme? Still Wakes the Deep does the same thing but with yellow markers instead, showing you where you should head next. Now, we have been informed that an option to remove these is coming in a post-launch patch, so that's good news for folks who'd like to be able to find their own way a bit more. Having said that, Still Wakes the Deep is so linear that we never really found them that intrusive anyway.

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As usual, we played through Still Wakes the Deep on Xbox Series X, and it was a solid experience all round. However, you'll want to mess with a few settings before jumping in - trust us. First of all, switching to performance most is wholeheartedly recommended for a smoother experience, and we'd also add to that by turning off motion blur and chromatic aberration. Both feel quite heavy in this game, and playing at 60FPS with those settings switched off is much less likely to cause sea sickness out on this Scottish oil rig. Ahhh, that's much better!


Still Wakes the Deep is a tight, narrative adventure dripping in atmosphere and oozing in that sweet Scottish personality we've all come to love (shouting and swearing lots, as it turns out). If you're happy with a total lack of combat and more of a focus on story and exploration, then this one is definitely worth playing through on Xbox Game Pass. We found ourselves rather engrossed with Still Wakes the Deep and its personal tale of loss and family, even if more player agency around the game's spooky oil rig wouldn't have gone amiss. If you've played anything from The Chinese Room before you'll know what you're getting into - Still Wakes the Deep is another successful effort for the British developer to add to its growing repertoire.