Japanese MMO publisher Gamepot Inc has announced that Wizardry Online is coming to gamers worldwide early next year. The Japanese version is currently in the testing phase of development, with a private beta set to run this month. The game is expected to launch later in the summer in Japan, and will come to Europe and North America in 2012.

Wizardry Online is a revival of one of the oldest RPG franchises in the industry, dating back to the early 1980s. The new game promises to "hearken back to the original allure of the groundbreaking Wizardry RPG series, but bring updated flair for modern gamers," according to Gamepot president Shuhei Ueda. "Now, for the first time ever, players around the world can step into the impressive action and captivating lore of this world in a free-to-play, online format. We're confident the return to hardcore role-playing elements will be a shot in the arm for gamers looking for a new challenge in the genre," he said.

If you're switching off at the prospect of yet another free-to-play MMO in the increasingly-crowded marketplace, don't dismiss it just yet, for Wizardry Online looks set to provide a slightly different experience to what you might typically expect from an MMO. For one, the game offers permadeath, a significantly more meaningful penalty for failure than in most other MMOs. The game also promises a return to the earlier entries in the series' complex dungeons and challenging combat.

"One false move can make the difference between resurrecting a character or losing it forever," promises the official website. "Players must navigate vast labyrinths and battle monsters that exit for the sole purpose of destroying players' characters. Through treacherous trials, countless grueling challenges and obstacles, players feel a true sense of accomplishment as they progress."

Could this be setting its sights on becoming the Demon's Souls of the MMO space?

This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Wizardry Online is Going to Kill You