Publisher Paradox Interactive announced Salem
, a tentatively-titled upcoming free-to-play MMORPG that will feature Minecraft
-like sandbox elements and permanent death for characters, releasing this year.
is under development at Seatribe, a small Swedish studio best known for Haven & Hearth
, another online title offering an "affectable and mutable game world". This marks Paradox's second MMO project -- it intends to release Lockpick Entertainment's real-time-strategy title Dreamlords: Resurrection
later this year, too.
"The game is a free-form, building MMO set in a persistent world, which is mutable and can be affected in many different ways by the players," said Seatribe's creative director Bjorn Johannessen in an interview
with PC Gamer. "The terrain is deformable, there will be plenty of woodlands that players can cut down, and there will be plenty of buildings that players can erect in this open, free world."
Johannessen also noted that, unlike other MMOs which typically let players' characters re-incarnate after dying, avatars that perish in Salem
will stay dead. He said the player-versus-player aspects can lead to an "extremely dark" game in which characters can maim and permanently kill each other, as well as destroy constructions that others have worked hard to create.
"I think that's another beautiful aspect about it because there's nothing as awesome as killing the guy who caused a lot of trouble on your farm," said the creative director. "That's going to be one of the greatest things about the game, I think, that sort of sense of well-earned justice finally."
As its tentative title suggests, Salem
is set in a fictional fantasy version of colonial New England inspired by gothic authors like H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville. Players will reportedly be able to use craft items, help build settlements, and learn magic (witchcraft being one of two primary paths) in Salem
's player-driven world.