Books of Tao: Overview
Developer Dreamtech Gaming has teamed up with Relax Gaming to release their Asian themed 'Book of' slot titled Books of Tao. Dreamtech is certainly ambitious. Originally focused on Asian markets, they've developed an eye for dominating the European online gambling scene.
They have a ton of games in the cabinet already, so it was only a matter of time before they designed a 'Book of' slot. What's nice is that instead of ramming the reels into a pyramid, the development team kept the action closer to home, giving it a strong Asian theme. The core features remain familiar though, so 'Book of' fans will be happy to know there is plenty of expanding symbol action.
There won't be many originality awards when it comes to look. This classic 5-reel, 10-payline game area is located on a hazy mountainside, in a pagoda topped with one of those sloping tiled roofs. Visually, it's okay; it does the job without being exceptional.
Sounds are pretty average too and should come with a public safety warning. If you tend to spin while wearing headphones, make sure to drop the volume a notch or two - the winning buzzing racket is irritatingly loud. If you land a big win, then the ringer during the count up is like a knitting needle in the ear. The rest of the effects are less obnoxious and include a dramatic Chinese flute/drum track thing.
Book of Tao is playable from 20 p/c to £/€200 per spin which is higher than you usually see – for both high and lower rollers. RTP compares favourably to others in class with a rating of 96.51%, while the volatility is high. The bonus game, in particular, can be volatile indeed due to the additional expanded symbols, covered shortly.
There are 9 regular pay symbols to cobble together wins on- 5 low and 4 high pay. Instead of royals, we get the 5 Tao elements of wood, earth, water, fire and metal. The premiums are a quill, some jade, a gourd, and a wise man type – presumably Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism. Lao Tzu is unique in that only two of him on a line payout, and he is the most valuable of the lot at 250x the stake for five of a kind.
Books of Tao: Features
Dreamtech bill Books of Tao as a 'Book of' style game with a twist. This twist is built around the expanding symbols feature where, in this case, it occurs in both the base and bonus games.
Above the reels are three rotating Yin & Yang positions. At the start of any base game spin they may display up to three different symbols which turns them into special expanding symbols. Expanding symbols expand to cover all positions on the reel if a win will result and payout on every win line. Expanding symbols do not need to be adjacent to do so either. Any wins from expanding symbols are paid on top of any regular line wins.
The only other symbol in the game is the Yin & Yang which plays the dual roles of scatter and wild. As a wild, it substitutes for any pay symbol to make a winning combination. As a scatter, when 3 or more are in view, 10 free spins are awarded. At the start of free spin, up to three symbols are selected to be the special expanding symbols. As mentioned above, these symbols expand to cover full reels if a win will result and pay anywhere. Free spins can be retriggered.
Books of Tao: Verdict
If Dreamtech were going to a wedding, they'd have the something old, something new thing covered. Books of Tao is full of things you've seen elsewhere, in some cases at least 100 times, while other bits are a little different. In the highly saturated market that is 'Book of' slots you have to nail each aspect of production, or offer something new, otherwise what's the point?
Books of Tao does have a couple of differentiating factors. For one, it's set in China (sorry for pointing out the obvious), so that might be a draw for 'Book' fans looking for a new locale. Then there is the chance of getting special expanding symbols during the base game, which isn't entirely unique, but still a bit different. Also, getting up to 3 special symbols at once rather than the usual one could well work in your favour.
How well? Full-screen wins are the order of the day in any 'Book of' slot. The best-case scenario in Books of Tao is a full screen of Lao Tzus for a 2,500x payout. With the help of special expanding symbols, this can happen on any base spin as well as in free spins. It might be half of what the heavy hitters in this category produce, but it is better than some 'Book of' alternatives. Big betters take note though, the max win is capped at €250,000, so if you're max betting, the best you can hope for is 1,250x the stake.
All up, Books of Tao is a decent enough 'Book of' option for fans of classic gaming although it does feel a bit unecessary. It doesn't have the massive in your face impact of say Book of Dead, but there are worse options floating around.