Inspired by one of the most underrated JRPGs of the '90s, this turn-based horror has just shot to the top of my wishlist

 Hymn to the Earless God
Hymn to the Earless God

Hymn to the Earless God is an indie take on classic turn-based JRPGs that's equal parts beautiful and disturbing, and it's taking inspiration from one of the most obscure games on SNES.

The game takes place in a dark world full of warring groups of insectoid creatures, and features four separate campaigns centered on different characters. These include a discarded slave who wants to murder a queen, and a barren bug woman who, after eating her mate without producing a child, is on the verge of participating in her society's ritualistic suicides.

There's a demo available on Steam that offers a taste of two of the four campaigns. While the game's surprisingly brutal for a 2D RPG, it manages to go beyond shock-value horrors thanks to interesting worldbuilding and strong combat systems, which force you to manage a constantly dwindling health supply alongside a constantly building technique meter and a more traditional mana pool. Eating your enemy's corpses plays a major role.

Hymn to the Earless God is currently on Kickstarter and still years away from release - the developer's current estimate puts it around August 2026. The full game will feature close to 40 mercenaries that you can hire for your party, each of which will have their own motivations and story arcs. Some mercs will grow stronger and add to your power, while others might rob you or simply take a day off when they don't feel like fighting.

The mercenaries system and dark atmosphere are both inspired by an underappreciated SNES JRPG series called Lennus. The original Lennus came to North America in 1993 under the name Paladin's Quest, while its sequel was only released in Japan. The first game did not review particularly well and the second was enough of a commercial flop to kill the series, but they both had just enough wild gameplay mechanics and story elements to endear themselves to hardcore JRPG enthusiasts.

One of those enthusiasts is indie developer Kasey Ozymy, who's now heading up Hymn to the Earless God with studio Starseed Games. While that studio doesn't yet have a track record, Ozymy previously worked on a very well-regarded indie RPG called Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass, which is probably best described as 'Earthbound but with a lot more horror elements.' Hymn to the Earless God is looking like a fantastic follow-up that I can't wait to see more of.

Check out all the best JRPGs if you're looking for the biggest names, or our Sea of Stars review if you want another indie take on the genre.