Warning: the "game" I saw today wasn't much of a game at all. All I saw was some concept art, all I heard were some basic outlines of gameplay and a very detailed description of the game's universe.
But as a singleplayer junkie who values story in games and loves pretty art, it won my heart regardless.
The game in question is Adrift (working title), a project shown for the very first time at this year's Gamescom. It's had a strange past; the product of a bunch of former Ubisoft developers and award-winning sci-fi writers, it's been in stealth development for years now despite its lack of a publisher (something it still has yet to find) or even a second's worth of gameplay footage.
What it lacks in official presence, though, it makes up for in promise.
Adrift is set in Neo Paris in the year 2084, in a world wracked by environmental disaster and overpopulation. The cornerstone of the game's story is the fact that human memories are now able to be separated and stored, complete with their accompanying sights, sounds and smells.
These memories can then be traded on the open market, the game exploring the consequences of what happens when people glibly trade the private memories of others and the potential for exploitation that can arise as a result.
Adrift's creative team includes concept art legend Aleksi Briclot and award-winning sci-fi author Alain Damasio, the studio built from the ground up to emphasise something many others regard as an afterthought, if at all: visual style, story and writing. I didn't get to see the writing, but the art, as you can see above, looks amazing.
Now, remember: I saw nothing of this as a game. So it's my favourite "game" from Gamescom, not my favourite game. Dontnod say it's a third-person action title with a graphical style that, while realistic, indulges in colour and a light/dark contrast (it sounded to me a lot like the approach Mirror's Edge took with its hyper-realism). But I couldn't see any of that for myself.
But as someone who plays games as an escape, who prefers to lose himself in a fantasy world rather than shoot at people from the real one, I couldn't help but walk away from Dontnod's presentation feeling more anticipation for Adrift than anything else I've seen at Gamescom. Which either says a lot about how cool this looked or how ho-hum most other stuff looked. Probably a bit of both.
Adrift is due in 2012, and at the moment is slated for release on Xbox 360 and PS3. Interestingly, when asked what will happen if the team can't find a publisher, they said they'd simply publish it themselves.