New Heavy Rain trailer and info from Games Con 2008

This Heavy Rain screenshot shows a combat scene. Press Circle!

Sony has revealed Heavy Rain, an all-new “dark thriller” set for release in 2009, at their Press Conference during the Leipzig Games Convention 2008 in Germany.

Heavy Rain will contain an extremely cinematic adventure with overtones of horror, wrapped up in a mature, emotionally involved storyline that will explore adult themes that are not usually seen within the video game realm, as promised by the developers at Quantic Dream.

The portion of gameplay footage shown revealed a scene that was virtually indistinguishable from a cut-scene, in which quick hands were needed as button-prompts would quickly flash across the screen.

The footage starts off with what seems to be a rain-soaked American suburban neighborhood home, complete with children playing in the front yard. A young woman with short hair made a note into a voice recorder before breaking into a darkened house. The house contained mannequins who were dressed strangely and the dark outlines of huge ravens could be seen hanging from the ceiling. The woman was then attacked by a knife-wielding assailant and a very fast-paced “combat” scene began. As the woman blocked her attacker with furniture, her actions seemed to be guided by button prompts on the screen, where pressing the X, Triangle, etc. buttons would cause her to dodge or kick the attacker as he tried to stab her with a knife. Rather than combinations, these appeared to be single quick presses of the four shape buttons only (Square, Triangle, X and O). Having effected her escape, the camera went in for a close-up, showing a remarkable level of detail on her face, with stunningly lifelike eyes in particular.

The writer and director of the game at French developer Quantic Dream is David Cage, and he has said that they are trying to tell a new kind of emotional story-led experience that no one has seen in a video game before.

“For years we wanted to create a different type of experience not based on repetitive actions, but really based on narrative and emotion,” Cage said. He said the core of the game would be “emotional involvement, empathy, contextual actions, moral choices and decision making”. The player “will be the actor, but also the writer and director at the same time,” making decisions that have lasting consequences for the story that’s told in Heavy Rain.

Quantic Dream has also stated that they will most likely include Downloadable Content as well as release a demo for Heavy Rain.

“Yes, of course, there will be a demo,” said David Cage. “We need to think about it, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the story,” Cage added. “We’ve spent a lot of time working on the story this time; we’ve worked with people from Hollywood, script writers, to really make it just right. And I think it’s a very unusual story for a videogame, so I think people will be quite surprised.”

Screenshot of the main character in Sony's Heavy Rain

The gameplay you can view above was a described as a separate episode not related to the main storyline. This would point to the way in which Quantic Dream will consider expanding the game with downloadable content, as well as future titles.

“This is something that’s really too early to talk about, but it’s definitely a possibility,” Cage revealed. “There’s so many possibilities with this thing, because what matters now is just the story you want to tell. Do you have a good story to tell? Then you can do it, because this thing isn’t specific to the series. You can tell any story with this interface, because it’s entirely contextual.”

Quantic Dream is the French studio behind cult adventures The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit. Heavy Rain was first seen at E3 two years ago in the form of a tech demo called The Casting, showing its advanced facial animation technology.

Via EuroGamer