Still Wakes the Deep

Cosmic horror done right. It didn’t come to me that this was the case until near the end of my four-and-a-half-hour playthrough, because I was too busy looking for points of comparison with John Carpenter's The Thing—of which there are many, but only because the developers could, and in they were right to do so. It was the sudden realization that The Chinese Room had suffused everything with the Colour Out of Space.

There are a handful of minor immersion-breaking bugs, most notable the subtitles refusing to turn off. After years of watching films, shows, and playing video games with the subtitles on, I’ve spent the last few months turning them off to focus more on the visuals. This has improved my overall enjoyment of media. Sure, I might miss the odd phrase here or there, but focusing on character expression, framing, and the myriad visual artistry has been worth that trade. This game was the first piece of media where I didn’t have a choice, and it made me see how distracting subtitles are. Hopefully a patch addresses this issue soon.

The dreaded “yellow paint” was prominent, leading the player through the already super-linear experience. It got me thinking: why not make such visual cues optional for the player? Surely a competent game developer could offload all instances of overt environmental clues to toggleable shaders. Make it part of a difficulty setting and offer an achievement for completing the game in that mode. Just a thought, and something I’ll be sure to implement if I ever again find myself responsible for such things.

Still Wakes the Deep is an excellent narrative horror adventure game and is part of the Game Pass library as of this writing.


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