Still Wakes the Deep's debut gameplay trailer asks, 'What if Dear Esther was set on an oil rig, and also something was trying to eat you?'

 Still Wakes the Deep screen - glowing door means bad things.
Still Wakes the Deep screen - glowing door means bad things.

The Chinese Room stepped into the spotlight earlier this year as the new developer of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, but that's not the only project it has on the go. It's also working on a new horror game called Still Wakes the Deep, and today we finally got our first look at gameplay—and I'm happy to say that it looks like everything I hoped, and feared, it would be.

Still Wakes the Deep is set aboard an oil rig being battered by a raging storm on the North Sea in the 1970s. The decks are awash, the corridors flooding, and most of the crew is missing and in need of your help. But that's not your only problem, or even your biggest: The real problem at hand is "the unknowable horror that's come aboard" amidst the chaos. As the saying goes, it does not wish you well.

The Steam page for Still Wakes the Deep promises "a symphony of action, trepidation, tender emotions, and awe," and yes, that's pretty over-the-top. But it's also the sort of thing that The Chinese Room is known for. Dear Esther is a polarizing game but I loved it, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was more weird than scary but also arguably a more adventurous take on narrative-based horror because of its subtle, light-touch approach. I didn't play Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, but it made a very positive impression too.

This new gameplay trailer bears echoes of The Chinese Room's earlier work—linear, weird, inscrutable—but it also comes off as more overtly horrific and action-oriented. I'm not sure how I feel about that: Generally speaking I'm not a fan of running blindly from screaming, slavering monsters who want to wear me like a suit, but I am honestly curious how The Chinese Room's trademark slow-burn storytelling might be punched up with some full-on Frictional-style pants-shitting. As with other horror games I've forced myself into over the years, I am both reluctant and eager to play it. Yeah, it's a weird feeling.

Still Wakes the Deep doesn't have a release date yet but it's currently expected to be out in early 2024, and will be available for PC on Steam.