Book of Atem (All41Studios/Microgaming): Overview
The latest in the long line of 'Book of' slots is brought to us by All41Studios, a young independent Estonian outfit that works in partnership with Microgaming. With a small but steadily growing catalogue of games, Book of Atem is their fourth slot to date. With their first three releases failing to make much of an impact, maybe fourth time is the charm? To help them create something that will resonate with the gaming community, they have chosen to copy the highly successful Book of Ra style slot. Yes, it looks upgraded, but beneath the skin lies a game with practically the same stats and features. Will tossing in the creative towel and cobbling together an imitation slot bring All41Studios glory?
Put aside the copycat gameplay for a moment, and the graphics are surprisingly inventive. The background has been nicely drawn and depicts a scene you don’t really see in slots. Atem, or Atum, was a god known as the finisher of the world. Everything was made out of his flesh, including other deities, and at the end of a cycle, he would return creation to a watery chaos. The guy sounds pretty intense, but the background scene we get in Book of Atem is a tranquil pool at the back of a palace or temple. It looks like the kind of place he would entertain guests or just chill. It makes a welcome change from the usual dark temples, caverns, and torch-lit scenes we usually get in Ancient Egyptian settings. It is surprisingly intimate, but make the most of it, because that is about the last original aspect you’ll find with Book of Atem.
The controls are really small on mobile, and users start the game by hitting the teeny tiny coins icon to select bets from 10 p/c up to £/€25 per spin. Next to the coins, are options for Autospin, settings, and the paytable. Open that up to reveal 9 base game pay symbols and one bonus symbol. Card royals with theme-led flourishes make up the first five low pay symbols. These are backed up by four picture icons – pink lotuses, striking cobras, lanner falcons, and the Pharaoh symbol. Low pay symbols need 3 of a kind to create a winner, while the high pays need just two. The Pharaoh is the top dog around here at 500 times the stake for a five of a kind combination.
Like several early 'Book of' games, when it comes to stats, the list is minimalist but satisfying. Firstly, there are just 10 fixed paylines to contend with on a 5x3 grid. Volatility is set to high and is complimented with a solid RTP of 96.45%. As before, the book symbol is the key to unlocking the best bits by far, but with a hit rate of 29.8% and solid symbol values the base game turns over nicely as well.
Book of Atem (All41Studios/Microgaming): Features
If you have played Book of Ra you will know exactly what to expect and can skip this part. If not, let’s give you the run down. There is just the one extra symbol – the almighty book. The great thing about it is that it has two roles, as the scatter and the wild. It can land anywhere on the reels and 3 or more of them in view triggers 10 Free Spins.
Before free spins commence, the book opens and one of the pay symbols is selected at random to be the special symbol. When 2 or more (3 for lower value card royals) of these special symbols land on a free spin, they expand to take over the whole reel they are on. What makes them so special is that these expanded symbols don’t need to be next to each other to form winners. This gives them the ability to rake in substantial numbers of coins.
Book symbols continue to land during bonus rounds, which means that free spins can be retriggered. Moreover, as a wild, the book substitutes for any other pay symbols, but it does not substitute for expanded symbols during free spins. It might sound a little basic, and it is, but the gameplay is super compelling, and wins can seriously rack up with expanded symbols in play.
Book of Atem (All41Studios/Microgaming): Verdict
Book of Atem proves the adage 'if you can’t beat em, join em.' After three mediocre slots, All41Studios have burst out of their corner swinging with an attractive looking slot with killer gameplay. That would be a recipe for success if you ignore the fact that gameplay is an exact copy of other classic 'Book' slots. This makes it difficult to come up with a verdict and rating for a game like Book of Atem. It possesses gameplay that has dazzled hordes of players ever since it first burst onto the scene so you can’t deduct points for that as such. Everything that players loved about the originals have been retained here. Graphics are of a high standard, and the background image is something a bit different so kudos to whoever came up with the design.
But there is no side stepping the fact that this is a completely unoriginal slot. There is nothing here that we haven’t seen before, several times over. Is Book of Atem a genuine homage to a classic slot or a desperate last-ditch effort to pull in some business? If we are being kind the artwork would suggest the former, and it is an improvement on previous limp efforts such as Le Kaffee Bar and Lock A Luck. But you would expect that when copying one of the most popular slots of all time. If All41Studios had ballsed up a slam dunk that is a Book of Ra copy, then Microgaming could have been having serious doubts about the partnership right now.
At the end of the day Book of Atem is an entertaining game with good visuals and a solid potential of up to 5,000 times the stake. Veterans might be put off by the brazen imitation, but newer players should enjoy a 'Book of' slot with updated modern visuals.
Book of Atem (All41Studios)
● Reels: 5
● Rows: 3
● Paylines: 10
● RTP: 96.45%
● Hit Freq: 29.80%
● Max Payout: 5,000x
● Volatility: H
● Bets: 0.10 - 25 EUR
● Features: Wild Scatter, Free Spins with Expanding Symbol
● Release Date: January 7, 2020
Bigwinboard Rating - 68%