Barbarian Gold: Overview
Brighton based developer Iron Dog Studio get all rough and rugged in their fantasy-filled slot Barbarian Gold. Except, not really. Barbarian Gold uses a cartoonish approach, something which Iron Dog often goes for as seen in other games such as Viking Wilds. It’s a lighter look, the opposite tack that Nolimit City went for in their heavy hitter Barbarian Fury, as a comparison.
The action takes place on a 5-reel, 20-payline reel set held in place by wooden beams, lashed together to create a makeshift frame. Surrounding the reels, the rest of the view is sparse, with a grassy foreground, a few trees, and some castle turrets in the background. The game is rich in colour and well designed, although not on the level of Nolimit City, if we're going to compare.
Playable from 20 p/c up to £/€20 per spin and with a 96.3% RTP, the gameplay is uncomplicated where the main goal is to land 3 or more matching symbols consecutively from left to right. Barbarian Gold has 20 fixed paylines crossing the reels with which to do so, and a bunch of colourful symbols populate them. The symbols have a semi smartphone-style look about them, the kind that pops up in Relax Gaming slots for example.
In ascending order the paytable starts with the four card suits - clubs, diamonds, hearts, and clubs. Next, are more theme-based icons such as a morning star, an axe, a sword, an ogre, a snake, and a barbarian. Rewards max out with the barbarian symbol at 12.5 times the stake for five of a kind, while the other two character symbols are worth 2.5x and 3.75x. Not massive values, but they are aided by a progressive multiplier during free spins.
Barbarian Gold: Features
Expanding wilds play a central role in the game, appearing in both the base game and on free spins. During the base game, when the 1x1 wild symbol lands, it expands to cover the full reel. The wild can substitute for any other pay symbol, and more than one wild can appear at the same time.
Things heat up with the help of the skull scatter which can appear in any position. When 3, 4, or 5 scatters are in view during the base game they award 8, 10, or 12 free spins respectively. The game moves to the Lava Cave level which brings in a multiplier that is applied to every win. The win multiplier starts at x1. The win multiplier can only go up; it does not reset during the feature. Whenever the wild symbol lands on a free spin, it expands as before while also increasing the win multiplier by +1.
Scatters remain in free spins, and should 3, 4, or 5 appear they give 4, 5, or 6 extra spins. When this happens, it also moves the game to the Gold Cave level. The benefit of this is when expanding wilds appear in the Gold Cave, they increase the multiplier by +1 and also add one extra free spin each.
Where available, the game may come with feature buy functionality that allows you to trigger the free spins on demand. For a cost of 100x, 150x, 0r 200x you get 8, 10, or 12 free spins to play respectively.
Barbarian Gold: Verdict
Admittedly, it took a little time to warm to Barbarian Gold. At first, it felt like Disney had rewritten the Norse Sagas for a G release with all the best bits scrubbed away so kiddies could enjoy them and pester their parents to take them on the theme park ride.
It didn’t take long to realise the game had a lot more depth than was initially apparent. As is often the case, the real potential came during free spins. That’s where Iron Dog has put together quite an effective game loaded with potential. As often is the case with volatile slots though, some bonus rounds were heartbreakingly weak - even with the bonus buy activated, so beware.
As you can imagine, the key is the Gold Cave, with expanding wilds landing in abundance as the other support. This not only boosts the all-important multiplier, which could hit x30+ on a good run, it is also crucial in adding more free spins to the feature. Stretch the game to full capacity and its potential can reach up to 10,000 times the stake (500x max in the base game).
Barbarian Gold might not grab you straight away, its light looks may prevent that from happening for some. But if you are willing to invest a bit of time, and manage to break into the bonus game, then it is possible to appreciate what Barbarian Gold has to offer.
It might not appear a brutal, heavy- hitting barbarian slot, but the math model and features help make up for any visual shortcomings.