Caravan of Riches

(Fantasma Games) Slot Review

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Caravan of Riches: Slot Overview

Way back in early 2020, software provider Fantasma Games took players on a bizarre journey to a desert where sharks swam precariously through seas of sand. Whatever the rest of the game, Desert Shark displayed a healthy vein of creativity, indicative of the blue sky thinking which would pour from the studio in their following releases. Now we're back to another hotly exotic part of the world for Caravan of Riches, and after a playthrough, it feels like a measure of the creative juices shown in Desert Shark evaporated the first time around.

Caravan of Riches alludes to the famous Silk Road, the ancient network of trade routes made famous (in part) by the journeys of Marco Polo. Passing through countries travellers would think twice about riding a camel through now; the Silk Road linked East and West for centuries. Dotted along the Silk Road were numerous towns, villages, and trading posts, one of which serves as the background for Caravan of Riches. It's this world of clay pots, striped awnings, stone buildings, and goods that players are thrown in to try their luck, much like some of the traders who braved the route in the olden times.

Caravan of Riches slot

One of the first things that sticks out about Caravan of Riches is its 5-reel game grid. What's slightly different is the 3-4-5-4-3 layout of the reels. Then again, this setup isn't as unique as it might have been once upon a time, as several similarly laid out slots have crossed our path recently, Sakura Fortune 2 being one such example. Not exactly the same, but the concept is there. What's disappointing about Caravan of Riches is the way it makes do with just 20 fixed paylines rather than the all-ways of Quickspin's Asian extravagance.

Numbers aren't one of Caravan of Riches' major strong points either, though kudos to Fantasma for being transparent and supplying most of them. Most players probably won't be complaining about a return value of 96.03% or the 4/5 volatile rating. It's more when digging into the average free spins win of 53.7x and a free spins frequency of 1 in 213 that feels slightly dreary in combination with how pedestrian everything else is. An absence of max win figure raises a question mark as well.

As mentioned, players get 20 paylines to land winning combinations of three to five in adjacent reels, starting from reel number one. On the low side are potion bottles, carpets, daggers, and purple jewels worth 0.35 to 0.5 times your stake for a five of a kind win. High pays increase to 0.75 to 5x the bet and consist of five various character symbols. Wilds complete the picture, for now, appearing on the three central reels to replace any regular paying symbol.

Caravan of Riches: Slot Features

Caravan of Riches slot
Caravan of Riches - Silk Road feature triggered

Hitting a five of a kind premium symbol win not only produces the highest payouts it also triggers the Silk Road feature. This is joined by free spins where players can level up while upgrading symbols in the process.

Silk Road Feature

When a cluster of adjacent matching character symbols lands on all five reels, the Silk Road feature is triggered. Each respective character symbol spins individually to land either blanks, coins, or scatter symbols. Blanks do nada, coins award cash prizes, while scatters may help trigger free spins.

Symbol Upgrade Free Spins

When 3 scatters are in view in the base game, 10 free spins are awarded. Scatters remain on the reels for the full duration of the feature and are collected whenever they hit. Every 4 scatters collected levels up the game and awards an additional +3 free spins. When reaching levels 1, 2, 3 or 4, only the top 4, 3, 2, or 1 character symbols land on the reels.

Caravan of Riches: Slot Verdict

One studio unafraid to experiment with reel setups is Stockholm based Fantasma Games. Blocker tiles, unusual use of Megaways, even the potential motion sick inducements of a rotating grid as seen in Twisted Turbine means no layout is safe from the experimental team. In some ways, Caravan of Riches' diamond-shaped grid is one of the more mainstream patterns they've done, as this concept has popped up with increased regularity recently.

Moving on, we get to the features which aren't bad, though they don't exactly offer Marco Polo exoticism. The Silk Road feature livens the base game, but largely because paylines rather than ways to win can be a drag. Still, instant coin wins can be a boon, while free spins are the other positive outcome. Moving up free spin levels may technically produce higher value wins or trigger the Silk Road feature more often, so there is a snowball aspect, which can be fun. Just don't expect Pink Elephants levels of tension or excitement from these symbol upgrade free spins.

After a while of testing, it was hard not to get the feeling that what Caravan of Riches offers has been done better elsewhere. Whether it's in the two competitor slots we've already mentioned above or others that have branched off them, it isn't hard to find more exciting alternatives. NetEnt's Silverback Gold springs to mind right off the bat, possessing a sophisticated symbol upgrade free spins feature with an insanely volatile twist when the collection meter is maxed out. Caravan of Riches, on the other hand, comes across as a better suit for players looking for an upgrade feature who don't want to be torn to bits by crazed gorillas or stomped on by psychedelic elephants.

Perhaps it's because Caravan of Riches isn't as imaginative as what Fantasma usually make, but neither gameplay nor theme execution managed to lift it above being so-so. Ultimately, Caravan of Riches failed to shine with the usual sparkle of originality often found in a Fantasma release.

Mediocre

Ultimately, Caravan of Riches failed to shine with the usual sparkle of originality often found in a Fantasma release.

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