I wouldn't call the new system 'simplified' at all, to a user who enters to play Salem, they would be confused as heck on what to do without a guide.
Even for a HnH player, it's confusing until you read the guide.
If a game like that requires a guide, it shows that it actually got more 'complex' than simplified.
For salem, they should have stuck to 2d, but used 3d models to render to 2d sprites...http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8vXgtoxV6fE#!
Project Zomboid did that, the animation is very fluid and seems more lifelike compared to drawing entirely in 2D.
Yes you would have to put more effort to make the 3d Models, but once that model is completed, you don't need to do much to render it to 2d when making sprite animations.
The program or techniques would allow you to convert them in more easily, in 8 'directions'.
No more floppy legged foxes right?