I imagine the first thought popping into your head is "Oh great, another Amnesia custom story". The second thought might be something explicit directed towards me, or perhaps remembering you have more important things to do, like making a sandwich and replaying La Caza for the 50th time.
Well I'm here to tell you why you shouldn't duck out just yet. After The Worry of Newport, my last critically acclaimed mod release, I wanted to create a more... personal Lovecraftian story. A direct one, actually, one more like Statement of Randalph Carter and Case of Charles Dexter Ward. After a few months of studying these tales, reading, practicing and polishing a new style of writing I am going to be using here I've finally got it done pat. I am confident enough to take on my next project, this project.
The First Stone will be a character study, a journey into the mind's of two necromancers and more importantly, what kind of worries and fears go on in their lives. This is a look at hero's in a villain's lore. This is a tale of what exactly makes a Necromancer of centuries old cast look under the bed at night, and what in turn might make you get chills up your spine. This is the fear of the unknown, for those who have seen the unknown.
Dorian Caulm, a centuries dated Necromancer who has used nefarious means to raise the dead and steal their secrets, goes one body too far. He calls up someone who beats him at his own game, utterly besting him in his dark magic.
Dorian survives and, in desperation, writes you, Albert Curwen, (A more powerful Necromancer, and a friend) to come and undo the mess and kill the horror he has brought back from the dead. So you, the player, have this task. You will be exploring the Manor, Cellar, Tunnels, Catacombs and Vaults respectively, going deeper and deeper in your hunt for the thing.
It will chase you, you will chase it, or vice versa. Some scripted and dynamic sequences alike will make it feel like you're always one step ahead of it, or likewise, as you both look for an object of stunningly mutual interest--a manuscript, the device needed for it to best you or you to best it.
But the story won't end there, or even begin there. You will find bodies and caskets of the long dead, read long scrolls of their interrogated secrets. Who was George Washington looking at whilst crossing the delaware? What was the island behind Mona Lisa?
These secrets are all revealed, and hundreds more, in the torture transcripts from Dorian Caulm. You will raise some yourself, torturing them for the truths you need to continue. You will find short stories, (Dorian is a prolific writer) scattered throughout the game that have symbolic connection to the main story that will be hand written by yours truly. These will be varied in detail and polished heavily to fit perfectly in the mythos.
You'll find entirely functional libraries, with dozens of pages in each that are readable of fake formulas, incantations, historical pages and transcripts of torture segments and MUCH more.
At the risk of spoiling anything I will stop, but The First Stone will have a ponderous, massive story for you to wrap your mind around and a surmountable quantity of both narrated and reading material. An ending, which readers have called "Ghastly, and horrifying" among other things, will cap it all together nicely.
I must confess that gameplay, unlike any other Amnesia mod, has taken a bit of a, shall I call it, back burner here? You will be introduced to surprisingly unique segments compared to other Amnesia titles, some truly creepy scenes ripped straight out of my imagination, and will even perhaps have to eat and sleep (Beta feature). However! Story is the main focus, linearity is to be expected, and you will not have a hard time beating The First Stone, but you might have a more troubling time piecing together the layered story.
It will take place through six massive levels with adequate optimization. Each will be filled to the brim with detail, story elements, music and aesthetics. Advancing is usually nothing less troublesome than finding a key to the level door, but in some cases this can change. But within each level are sub levels, without loading screens, of lower levels, or outside vistas, etc.
The First Stone releases Q1, 2012. It will be precisely three hours long. Fully voiced characters and custom music are to be expected, as well as assets and artwork.