Breaking the boundaries – Three video slots that changed the industry in 2021

Those who work in design, animation and game development looking for new inspiration would do well to pay attention to what is currently happening in the online video slot sector. Thanks to huge growth in the gambling industry, massive demand for the products, and a wealth of available talent, the sector is in something of a golden age. Video slots have moved on from the classic three reelers found on Vegas casino floors back in the 1980s. Now they are more sophisticated in themes, gameplay and artwork. 

To illustrate our point and give our readers something to think about here are three ground-breaking slot games from 2021 that are proving hugely successful. If you want to experience them for real you can load up pretty much and online casino website or app and you will find them listed under the ‘slots’ sections. Alternatively, there are some sites that offer free spins on registration with no deposit required that allow you to test the games without spending any money. Either way we think it’s worth taking some time to look at three gaming products with very high production standards built by studios at the peak of their powers.

Mental by No Limit City

The first game we have chosen is by a Scandanavian slot studio called No Limit City. We’ve chosen this slot because it showcases a theme and game features never seen before. In the past big game studios like Microgaming and NetEnt have dabbled in slots with a horror theme but usually its fairly light-hearted and with a hint of humour thrown in. This is the first game we’ve seen that genuinely deserves an 18 rating as its subject matter is very disturbing. 

No Limit City have set their game in a Victorian insane asylum and to build the mood they have included a creepy soundtrack and reel symbols that include body parts like kidneys, brains and hands. There are also Dead Patients, Scorpions and Spiders. The sepia-tinted illutrations and Hannibal Lecter-style patient give the game a nightmarish quality unlike any other slot we’ve seen. Those who are interested in illustrated artwork should definitely have a look at Mental.

Onto the mechanics and No Limit City have built this slot with more features than we’ve ever seen. In an era when simple 5 payline games are now obsolete, having sophisticated gameplay is important. In this instance the mix includes symbols that split in two and reels that extend to 20 rows high to increase the number of paylines on one spin, free spins and progressive multipliers that are triggered by particular events in the game like Scorpion on Spider symbols landing on the reels. The highest possible win in Mental slot is 66,666x. This in itself is a much higher jackpot than many other games on the market right now. 

In short, when it comes to end-of-year polls, Mental is sure to feature high up in the ratings when the votes are counted. If you want a measure of how far the slot sector has come in the last decade, this is a great game to start with. You can try the game here.

Wild Flower by Big Time Gaming

Our second recommendation to our readers is this game, Wild Flower by Big Time Gaming (BTG). This Australian game studio has been in business for over a decade and really started changing the way developers and consumers look at video slots in the last five years. They are famous for their innovative game engine, Megaways™ which uses an expanding reels format to randomise the number of active paylines on every spin. In slots like Bonanza Megaways™, a mainstay of casinos, up to 117,649 win ways may be active on a single spin and the top prizes often exceed 20,000x the value of the players stake. 

In the case of Wild Flower there are a few things in the production that make this game stand out. BTG use a hit song from British 80s band the cult as the soundtrack to the game. It’s in keeping with another of their releases, Lil Devil, which is also a song by The Cult. This continuity between one game and the next is something that helps BTG retain their own cult appeal. In terms of mechanics the strength of this slot is in its combinations of features that work at their best when they combine. In this instance there are free spins modes where a progressive multiplier – one that increases with every consecutive winning spin – pushes the payout potential of the game to much higher levels than standard play.

In addition, BTG add a Mega Symbol to the reels that can unlock enhanced versions of those two free spins rounds. This is typical of Big Time Gaming. They have essentially found new ways to make classic game features work when combined. It shows that when creating games developers don’t have to always invent something new but can rework existing features with amazing results too.

Reactoonz 2 by Play n Go

The final slot that we want to profile is Reactoonz 2 by Play n Go. This is a follow up to the original Reactoonz game and is a little bit different to a standard slot. It also showcases the talent of a game studio that has been in the business for more than 20 years. Play n Go from Sweden have one of the biggest game catalogues of any studio so it’s no surprise that they are at the cutting edge of design and development in the industry. 

Reactoonz 2 is what is known as a grid slot. That means it pays out in a different way to a standard slot. Instead of paylines, players are rewarded for landing identical symbols in ‘Clusters’ of five or more. The bigger the cluster, the greater the prize.  And when a winning cluster is formed, it breaks up and new symobls drop in to replace the ones that disappear. This may create new clusters and more payouts.  It’s this simple mechanic, known as Cluster Pays, that sets Reactoonz 2 and other grid slots apart from the crowd.

Much like Big Time Gaming and No Limit City, Play n Go have built additional features into their slots that work to build momentum and thrills in the game. In this instance, the player must fill a ‘meter’ to the side of the screen by landing special icons on the grid. When a meter is filled, more higher paying symbols and wild symbols are released, injecting extra payout potential into the paytable. 

This ‘gamification’ feature – earning more chances to win through your gameplay – is what makes this game special to us. In fact, gamification in online slots is starting to become more prevalent, and we can all learn from the value it brings in retaining players over time.

So, there we have it. Three games from the cutting edge of an innovative and thriving games sector. If you are a games producer yourself, check them out and see what learning you can bring to your own work.