The Chinese Room's Still Wakes the Deep could be the pinnacle of the current survival horror boom

Still Wakes the Deep
(Image credit: The Chinese Room)

The Xbox Games Showcase impressed with a flurry of new games, trailers and exclusives, but nothing shook me quite like Still Wakes the Deep. Developed by The Chinese Room, the scant slice of in-game footage and gloomy cinematics shown on stage ticked all of my boxes, and amid the current wave of survival horror intrigue, this game has already shot to the very top of my most wanted list. 

The Chinese Room, of course, is the team behind walking simulator pioneer Dear Esther, and the similarly thoughtful, mysterious and unsettling Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. In 2013, the studio tried its hand in the horror genre with Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs – a follow up to Frictional Games' 2010 indie hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent – and I've wanted something as dark and twisted since. It's too early to say that Still Wakes the Deep is exactly what I've been waiting for, but throughout the whole 62-second trailer that ran during the Xbox Games Showcase 2023, I muttered repeatedly under my breath: "Please be horror, please be horror, please be horror."

Ship wrecked

Still Wakes the Deep

(Image credit: The Chinese Room)

Typical of The Chinese Room's games generally, the reveal trailer didn't actually reveal all that much at all. In fact, the first half of the short showed a camera moving across choppy waters, before the game's oil rig setting came into focus through the sea mist. We were then taken inside, a lone figure was shown fumbling around the rig – it clearly now in disrepair – before falling from a helipad, crashing to the platform below. Viewed through their eyes, the protagonist scrambled around increasingly decrepit hallways and industrial spaces, before a cliched (but apt) crescendo of off-key strings led to the trailer's climax. And only then, despite it seeming obvious, did it become definite: a high-pitched scream was followed by the protagonist frantically slamming a heavy metal door against a bulkhead. 

This is indeed a horror game, and my stomach hit the roof. Here's the official skinny as per the press released that followed the Xbox Games Showcase: 

"Still Wakes the Deep is a return to the first-person narrative horror genre for The Chinese Room, creator of critically acclaimed games such as Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and Dear Esther. You are an off-shore oil rig worker, fighting for his life through a vicious storm, perilous surroundings, and the dark, freezing North Sea waters. All lines of communication have been severed. All exits are gone. All that remains is to face the unknowable horror that’s come aboard." 

Still Wakes the Deep

(Image credit: The Chinese Room)

"Sure, nostalgia plays a huge part in the horror revival, but the current horror boom is driven mostly by great studios taking risks and doing what they do best."

With the Resident Evil 4 remake in mind, the Dead Space Remake, The Outlast Trials, the Alone in the Dark reboot, and the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake to name but some of games flying the blood-spattered flag for survival horror at the moment, the genre is in the best position it's been in for years. GamesRadar's own Jasmine Gould-Wilson wrote about how horror has made a huge comeback, and it's not just about nostalgia earlier this year – and I couldn't agree more. Sure, nostalgia plays a huge part in all of the above, as is the very reason I'm delighted The Chinese Room has turned its head back towards survival horror, but the current horror boom is driven mostly by great studios taking risks and doing what they do best. 

Beyond the fact Still Wakes the Deep is due in Early 2024, and is coming to PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox and PC Game Pass, and PS5, not much else is known about The Chinese Room's next outing at this stage. But I'm already buzzing, and next year can't come soon enough. 

Here are the best horror games scaring us right now 

Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is a sports editor from Glasgow and former features editor at GamesRadar+. A mental health advocate, Joe has written about video games and mental health for The Guardian, New Statesman, VICE, PC Gamer and many more, and believes the interactive nature of video games makes them uniquely placed to educate and inform. His book Checkpoint considers the complex intersections of video games and mental health, and was shortlisted for Scotland's National Book of the Year for non-fiction in 2021. As familiar with the streets of Los Santos as he is the west of Scotland, Joe can often be found living his best and worst lives in GTA Online and its PC role-playing scene.