Book of Shadows: Overview
Developer Nolimit City gets all bookish in their occult flavoured slot Book of Shadows. It seems there is an unwritten, gentleman's type agreement that all developers have at least one' Book of' slot in the catalogue. This is Nolimit's first crack, and they have brought their impressive creative juices to bear. While the must-have expanding symbols are there, the rest of the game breathes a cold blast of foetid undead air into the genre.
A glance is all it takes to realise this is no normal ‘Book of’ slot. Instead of the warm sands of Ancient Egypt, we are somewhere a lot colder, a lot clammier. If we had to name a location, the 5-reel game area appears to sit in the woods outside Sleepy Hollow. An eerie, almost Arabic, soundtrack wafts away like the fireflies floating across the screen, punctuated by howling wolves, and hooting owls. It feels like a headless horseman could come bounding through the leafless trees at any moment.
Book of Shadows is playable on any device from 10 p/c to £/€100 per spin. At least, this is the cost at the default 3 row setting. By clicking on the grid, players can activate 4 or even 5 rows. Doing so increases the bet by 1.5x or 2x, respectively. RTP is also row dependent, meaning 3, 4, or 5 rows in play produce ratings of 96.01%, 96.07%, or 96.19% respectively. In all cases, volatility remains the same – 10/10, or as Nolimit classes it 'Extreme'.
Core rules are pretty standard. Land matching symbols left to right from the first reel for a win. As you'd imagine, more rows mean more paylines, so 3, 4, or 5 rows provides 10, 15 or 20 Shadow Rows, as they are called. Ten regular symbols make up the paytable, starting with 10-A royals, followed by an eyeball, a butterfly, a goat's skull, a purple cat, and a female goth. Low pays need at least three of a kind to win, while the premiums payout when at two or more line up. Premium values are also satisfyingly high when five of a kinds land, paying out from 50x to 500x the stake. As is standard in most 'Book of' slots, the scatter doubles as a wild symbol here.
Book of Shadows: Features
Free spins with expandable symbols remain the most desirable moment here, but there are a couple of extra features including Lucky Locks, Gamble 50/50, and the Gamble Wheel of Bonus.
Let's tackle the Lucky Locks first. Similar to Microgaming's Hyperspins feature, players can lock reels in place for an adjusted bet. Available after every main game spin, players can lock up to 4 reels in place. The cost depends on the reel, the symbol types on the reels, and so on. It is possible to lock two scatters and respin the rest in hopes of landing the third if you so choose.
No 'Book of' slot is complete without the ability to gamble your winnings. The 50/50 gamble feature is available after free spins or base game wins. It's a simple black or red card pick that will double or nothing your money. Up to five gambles can take place in a row, as long as the winning amount is less than €500,000.
The Wheel of Bonus allows you to gamble for the chance to win free spins – as long as the winnings do not exceed 60x the bet. A wheel with a highlighted segment spins, the size depends on the amount of your win. Land in the segment to pick up 10 free spins at the current row height.
What it all comes down to is the free spins game, triggered by landing 3 or more book symbols in view - 3 scatters award 10 free spins at the current row height, but you can increase or decrease the number of rows to receive more or less free spins.
Before the round starts, a golden symbol is randomly chosen. If you're not pleased with the one offered you can reshuffle once in hopes of an upgrade. It can work the opposite way though, so beware.
During free spins, golden symbols expand to cover full reels after any win lines have been evaluated. Expanded golden symbols pay all win lines from any position; they do not have to be adjacent. The ultimate result is five goth girls on a 5 row grid for a 10,000 times the stake win. Also, landing 3 or more book scatters on a free spin retriggers the feature.
The bonus game is triggered every 154 spins theoretically, yet if you can't wait, there is a feature buy option. If available in your jurisdiction, The Nolimit Bonus, as it is called, costs 60x, 90x, or 120x for 10 free spins with 3, 4 or 5 rows respectively.
Book of Shadows: Verdict
When designing their take on the Book thing, most developers tweak one aspect to help justify the game's release. Nolimit City, on the other hand, has bravely taken the popular genre and turned it on its head. Aside from expanding symbols (which admittedly are the core feature), almost everything else has been altered. The result is a ‘Book of’ slot which is genuinely new. Such a bold approach won't be to everybody's liking. Some may find it fiddly, bloated, and possibly annoying. It's certainly not your typical Ra-style imitator.
Instead, it's a real gamblers tool. Locking reels, for example, are fun when they go your way. Say, locking two books and landing the third one to trigger free spins. However Lucky Locks are not cheap. For example, locking a book on the first and third reel boosts spin costs to over 40x the stake. Many will contend it's better to just fork out for the feature.
The same dilemma rears up when confronted by the Gamble features. Picking the right card, or winning free spins is brilliant when it works out, a flaming pumpkin in the head when it all goes wrong. The same can be said for Shadow Reels. It's hard to stick to three rows when you know five is available - especially when you see hordes of scatters land on inactive rows. Some may argue it would have been better if Nolimit had just used the 5x5 setup, and be done. Still, the whole game revolves around player's choice.
It is possible for Book of Shadows to grow on you, the deeper you delve. There is a lot to take in, and plenty of options to experiment with. You might hit on a combination you love, or, all this fannying about might just get in the way. It's a game that could annoy the heck out of Ra purists, while others may love the multiple opportunities to try their luck, not to mention the unusual theme.
Book of Shadows has been cleverly designed, and there are plenty of options for players who like to dig in, have a punt, or play around with settings. Once again Nolimit has demonstrated their creative bent by crafting something unique with one of the most well-worn slot formats around.
The incremental additions found in Book of Shadows offer a thrilling take on the original formula, resulting in another quality game from Nolimit City.