Before we get started, Deathly Stillness is free. I would highly recommend hitting Steam right now and checking out, then come back to check out this article while it downloads.
Deathly Stillness Gameplay
Self-described as a “boring” zombie shooter, Deathly Stillness is in fact a lot more than that, as you’ll find out in this article. There is no plot to speak of, which is also clear from the description on Steam, though there is an objective. You play the role of a survivor in a zombie apocalypse, in a world that looks surprisingly familiar if you are a fan of the genre of third-person zombie shooter/survival games.
You will be required to clear the three maps which contain a number of zombies, using either a SCAR or AK47 to dispatch these attacking reanimated corpses. You will find ammo crates that have an arbitrary number of bullets in them, and your main objective is to kill all of the zombies as quickly as possible without dying.
The first thing you’ll notice is the graphics are very detailed and polished, and reminiscent of games like Last of Us or Days Gone. The grungy, morose aesthetic has been done well, and the assets used are well-designed, being predominantly from the Unreal marketplace. The zombies are ugly and disgusting as you’d expect and give you a great jump scare when they come barrelling at you if you miss your initial head shot attempt.
Although the game does not have too much challenge in store for veteran shooter fans, there’s enough fun to be had in the demo to give you a quick adrenaline rush and fulfil the purpose of the game for the developer. The purpose, as we’ll explain, was to show what can be done with Unreal game engine within a very short space of time and offer a teaching aid for anyone wanting to build such a game. Keep your expectations low and you will be very pleased you played it.
Deathly Stillness: Everything We Know So Far
What started out as a tutorial series on Chen Jiacheng’s BiliBili channel has now turned into one of the most wanted games in the world. Fans have been hammering on the developer’s door for a follow up or expansion on the game, which has received a good number of updates since launching on Steam back in August.
In the developer’s own words – “This is a boring third-person zombie game with no plot. Complete the quest to kill all the zombies. This game is a teaching case game of Bilibili Chen Jiacheng, not an officially released game.”
The timeline below has been taken from Steam and expanded on to include game stats, updates from Chen himself or other news websites.
7th June 2020
Deathly Stillness began as a challenge on Chen Jiacheng’s BiliBili channel – a Chinese site which is basically like YouTube/Twitch.
The challenge was “…to make a Zombie Game in half an hour”, which is ambitious to say the least. Think Game Jam on Steroids and you’re somewhere close to what Chen set out to do.
30th August 2020
Chen has said that he “failed” the challenge, but was invigorated by the prospect of making a zombie third-person shooter, and inspired to take another three days to improve on what he had done. A free demo of this game was made available for his fans and followers to test out.
3rd December 2020
From August to December, lots of fans and followers tested out the game. Chen felt that more development was warranted, and spent another ten days perfecting the demo, stopping bug fixes/development on 3rd December.
26th June 2020
Chen began to take some time on a website to showcase his work, after realising the amount of interest in his games and tutorials. Here his games can be downloaded, and fans can watch tutorials and keep track of any new projects.
22nd August 2021
Chen registered a Steam account so he could share his beta version of the game with a wider audience, and then the ball really began to roll. YouTube channels such as Hollow, GameRiot, FuriousFade, and more all reviewed Deathly Stillness gameplay, and were all very happy with what they saw.
The Steam release was a roaring success with over 7,000 positive reviews to date, and a rating of “Overwhelmingly Positive”. According to SteamDB, the game peaked at concurrent 1,182 players in September, with approximately 136,000 downloads so far in October 2021.
25th August 2021
Chen began releasing updates to the beta of Deathly Stillness, fixing bugs and glitches to improve gamer experience. In true indie fashion, the developer has taken on board a lot of what his fans have said, without disrupting his initial vision for the game.
5th September 2021
Considered the official launch of Deathly Stillness, wrapping up a tiny 17 days of development time. The bugs that were noticed in-game by beta testers were ironed out ready for 5th September, so one can only imagine the hours Chen had to put in to achieve that.
Deathly Stillness Game Updates
With the amount of interest in his game, Chen has probably realised he created a monster. So far there have been fifteen updates to the game. These updates include: -
- Leaderboard function for player rankings based on time to clear/speedruns.This feature was later removed, but fans hope it will eventually return
- FPS improvements
- UI improvements
- Male or female character choice
- Chinese Old Alleys map added
Is Deathly Stillness Worth It?
Absolutely. The game is well made, it is completely free, and by playing it you are supporting a solo developer who not only enjoys creating games, but also teaching his craft to others. With positive reviews from even the harshest critics on YouTube, Deathly Stillness has won over the hearts of zombie shooter fans around the world. You should play it - if nothing else – just to say you have. Lurching very close to cult status, the game is absolutely going places.
The amount of attention the game has received is not unwarranted, either. Not only is the game great to look at, but it also manages to have a charm that is undeniably appealing. A game made in such a short period that looks and feels this good – being made entirely by a lone developer to boot – deserves honourable mentions in the genre.
The game cost around £50 to make, which shows that great things can come from solo developers with next to zero budget. Deathly Stillness shows the gaming world just what is possible with tenacity and dedication, proving that indie development is something that has its own organic growth network that can catapult a game from obscurity to being an international success.
What’s Next For Deathly Stillness?
Currently there are only three maps, but at the rate Chen is going, there will probably be more before the year is out. He has been extremely quick to update the game, too, jumping on any bugs that have been found by YouTubers or Twitch streamers.
Incidentally, if there’s one thing we gamers like, it’s funny bugs. Deathly Stillness features possibly one of my favourite bugs of all time, in which the cleavage of the female character acts very strangely and wobbles around like jelly.
Source: LotsOFun (Steam)
Chen Jiacheng Interview
We’re endeavouring to get an interview with Chen about Deathly Stillness, so watch this space.