I can't review a game if I can't finish it, and Still Wakes the Deep is broken because of this bug

Screenshot of Still Wakes the Deep running on Xbox Series X.
I am not envious of my coworkers on the Beira. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I was not among the lucky few to be blessed with a Still Wakes the Deep review code ahead of the narrative-horror game's launch, but I still planned to review the title for Windows Central alongside the first wave of players. Reviewing any game means actually finishing the game, though — while that may sound like an obvious prerequisite for a thorough review, it's not always a given.

Unfortunately, I cannot review Still Wakes the Deep right now, because I've encountered a game-breaking, progression-halting bug that completely prevents me from completing the game. I'm not the only one afflicted by this bug, and my research and own troubleshooting attempts have yielded zero solutions or workarounds. So, consider this both a word of caution if you intend to play the game and my initial impressions barring a full review.

Hey, can I get a lift? No? Okay.

The dreaded flare stack, moments before disaster. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Later in Still Wakes the Deep, you'll be tasked by your colleague Brodie to go and divert the flow of oil in the flare stack to the auxiliary pipe in hopes of avoiding a devastating explosion on the oil rig. It doesn't take Caz, the main character, long to realize that he won't be alone on this mission, as another colleague is also in the area — except Addair has taken on a new, barely-human form and won't hesitate to separate you from the world of the living.

At first, this simply seems like the latest in a long line of cruel developments aboard the Beira, but a few players will unfortunately encounter a bug here that means the end of the journey. To get to where you need to go and (hopefully) avoid getting mauled by the deformed remains of your former coworker, you need to use a lift to descend to a lower level. However, that lift breaks on its way down, sending you careening half a floor too far in a cascade of sparks and metallic screeching.

This is supposed to be a scripted event, leaving you trapped between levels in a nonfunctional lift until the grotesque form of Addair responds to the eruption of noise, sending him into a frenzy. Addair is supposed to crash against the unreachable door of the lift, causing sufficient damage to the surrounding structure to allow you to sneak by and continue on your mission. Except... This never happened for me.

This isn't Addair, but it is one of the Beira's poor workers. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Addair never showed up at all, leaving me confused on how I was supposed to leave the broken lift when nothing I could see or reach could be interacted with. A reload later and nothing changed. An internet search later and I realized something should've changed. The scripted event never started, leaving me perpetually trapped. I found a thread of other people (both on Xbox and PC) encountering the same issue discussing it on Steam, letting me know I wasn't alone.

No one in the thread had found a successful workaround or even happened to stumble their way through the progression-halting bug, and none of my additional troubleshooting efforts yielded any fruit. No amount of reloading, restarting, or rebooting made any difference, nor did trying to break the game in the reverse direction by starting the lift and then immediately leaving it, letting it descend without you, or attempting to parkour your way down to the lower level by taking advantage of a dangerous ledge.

I even attempted to restart the game in offline mode to see if it had any difference, a solution that worked in the past with some other game issues. Of course, this didn't work. It's not even clear what exactly is causing this game-breaking fault, but the existence of a limited number of complaints and the generally raving reviews Still Wakes the Deep has received indicates that this issue is critical but fortunately limited in scope.

This lift worked. Too bad they can't all work. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Most players will never encounter this problem. The ones that do, however, will have no choice but to completely restart their game and replay it from the beginning, and hope that the bug doesn't rear its ugly head again once you reach that same point hours later. That's not an ideal situation, and it means I simply won't be finishing the game until the problem is fixed. 

I don't have the motivation to replay the entire game just for the possibility I'll be able to get out of this lift. Fortunately, it does seem like the developers behind Still Wakes the Deep are aware of the bug and are presumably looking into it.

Otherwise gorgeous with impeccable atmosphere

Your first time actually seeing one of these monsters is unsettling to say the least. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Developer The Chinese Room and publisher Secret Mode have obviously leveraged their impressive combined horror experience to craft what could be one of the best and most polished new horror games I've played in a while. Well, polished apart from the one glaring problem that prompted this entire article. Either way, I've greatly enjoyed Still Wakes the Deep up until that abrupt stop, and it was certainly marching its way toward a very positive review until I couldn't march any further.

Built in Unreal Engine 5, Still Wakes the Deep is set on a rundown oil rig off the Scottish shore in the 1970s, and follows an electrician running from his problems on the mainland. Just as Caz McLeary realizes he can't run anymore, though, a terrible disaster on the oil rig sets in motion a never-ending nightmare that kills many of the people on board. Now, you have to survive in the shoes of Caz while also attempting to save as many of your coworkers as possible.

Doing so means exploring the Beira, the oil rig you temporarily call home, and working with your colleagues to keep the station from totally falling apart. Of course, you'll also have to use the environment and your wits to survive the horrors set loose in the oil rig. It's an excellent setting for a survival narrative-horror game, and it makes for an excruciatingly dark and unsettling atmosphere.

It really is a visually spectacular game with excellent lighting. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Still Wakes the Deep leverages the full power of Unreal to spectacular effect on Xbox Series X, resulting in a terrifyingly gorgeous horror game on the same visual level as Layers of Fear (2023). Still Wakes the Deep is more consistent so far in its horror and narrative delivery, however, and has done a great job making me feel like an actual part of this world. It's not the scariest game I've played, but I can't claim that Still Wakes the Deep hasn't elevated my heart rate at least a few times.

Caz's oft-brief reaction to the events aboard the Beira and the limited, very linear nature of the map (limiting exploration) may prevent Still Wakes the Deep from becoming a horror masterpiece, but I have to reserve my final judgement until I (hopefully) finish the game in the future... And I do want to.

Hoping to finish it after a fix is released

There's still so much I don't know about what's happening on the Beira. I hope to find out soon. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I've been enjoying Still Wakes the Deep a lot, and I'm sad it seems I'll have to set it down for the time being. I'm not reviewing a game I can't finish, but I also didn't want to totally abandon my developing thoughts on this intriguing narrative-horror adventure. Hence, my word of caution on the game-breaking bug I unfortunately encountered (although you probably won't) and my initial thoughts on what I have been able to play.

In the meantime, I'll likely move onto other games until The Chinese Room releases a fix for this bug. It'll be hard to get my mind off the Beira and into a different universe when matters are so unresolved, but that's the way of the world right now. That doesn't mean you shouldn't play the game, though, as it does seem most players are able to enjoy Still Wakes the Deep in its entirety without encountering this bug. It's especially low risk if you play through Xbox Game Pass.

Still Wakes the Deep has the potential to be one of the best Xbox games for horror fans based off what I've played so far, but there's also the current risk that you simply won't be able to finish it. If you want to attempt to survive on the Beira yourself, Still Wakes the Deep is now available for Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PlayStation 5, and can be bought for $34.99 at Microsoft Store (Xbox & PC).

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.