Cygnus Slot (ELK Studios): Overview
At first glance, Cygnus is obviously an Egyptian themed slot. It is, however, quite different from what we usually get in this category. Let’s start with a clarification to begin the break down. Cygnus is the name of one of the stars that make up the Northern Cross in the night sky. This constellation is apparently aligned with frightening accuracy to the pyramids in Giza. The game sheet claims this is no coincidence, that the alignment creates some sort of cosmic connection. Some online theorists have taken this idea a step further and suggested that aliens from Cygnus are responsible for building the pyramids. Whatever the truth might be, Cygnus is the title of ELK Studios latest slot, and it combines Egyptian and galactic themes with a bunch of compelling features.
The look and sound of the game are classically Egyptian. The game grid is set before the entrance to a pyramid, with palm trees framing the scene and a constellation in the night sky. It’s a pretty scene and one that is not completely unremoved from the Gold series of slots. What creates that impression is the 6 reels sitting between two pillars, stacked 4 rows high. It looks intriguing, and the multiplier on the right pillar is encouraging.
Initially, the game has 4,096 win ways. Symbols need to land in three or more on any row from the 1st reel onwards. Cygnus uses Avalanche game mechanics, but again, this feature is a little different than before. Because the rows and reels are not aligned flush, when winning symbols are removed, the gravity mechanic lets them drop naturally. Imagine round symbols bouncing down a flight of stairs rather than dropping straight down. Usually, symbols here fall left to right, but not always. It is a nice touch and can lead to some intense moments as you watch the symbol you want slowly make its way down to the right position, or not. Another aspect is that rows can be added after winners are cleared. This can lead to 8 rows of symbols on each reel boosting win ways to 262,144.
This win system integrates with the symbols well too. The highest paying symbol in the game, for whatever reason, is the lucky 7 symbol. These usually land in a bunch on the right-hand side of the grid. Through the new and highly innovative gravity mechanic, they can get pulled into play when winning symbols on the left are cleared out of the way to let them roll in. Other symbols in the game include 4 low pay gems, and 3 more high pay symbols – an ibis, camel, and cat. The symbols look like they were designed at the last minute and don’t offer spectacular value which you would expect with an avalanche feature. The exception is the 7 which returns 30 times the stake for 6 of a kind.
The nuts and bolts of the game include setting bet levels from between 10 p/c and £/100 a spin across all devices. Alternatively, players can engage one of four betting strategies in combination with up to 100 auto spins. ELK has rated the volatility at 8 of 10, which is high, but it can feel even higher at times. Cygnus comes with an RTP of 96.1% and a hit rate of 23% so theoretically it is not tight when it comes to payouts.
Cygnus Slot (ELK Studios): Features
Working hand in hand with the game mechanics are the extra features. Up first is the ‘X’ symbol. If this symbol makes it to the bottom row, it engages the Multiplier on the right pillar. Each consecutive ‘X’ moves it higher from x2, x4, x16, x32, until x64. The golden W symbol is wild and can land anywhere to substitute for any regular pay symbols.
As always, the elusive bonus game is the one you want, and it sounds easier to land than it actually is. How it works is that when the bonus symbol enters the game it needs to be moved left until it touches the left pillar. If it does so 7 Free Drops are awarded. The bonus round uses the full 8 rows on every drop, and multiplier symbols that enter the game become sticky. This feature can also be retriggered.
Cygnus Slot (ELK Studios): Verdict
On paper, the features sound a lot like ELK's Gold series of slots. Even in action, you can’t deny there are similarities. But ELK has done enough alterations to make Cygnus something of a standalone slot. Sure, some elements at their core have been used before, but Cygnus does them all a little differently, and the result feels novel. It is also massively playable. The way symbols fall left or right using the new gravity mechanic makes you want to see what happens next. Cygnus has the kind of x-factor that when you say, 'just one more spin', half an hour can pass by without noticing.
While entertaining, Cygnus can also be unforgiving with a lot of dead or low-value spins. You need to get on a good run where avalanche wins pull in multipliers, ideally during free spins, for any chance of significant returns. Speaking of returns, the game has a top prize of £/€500,000. You will need to bet at max level to reach that amount due to the potential of 5,000 times the stake. Again, a similar figure to what we got with slots in the Gold range, the better ones at least.
Overall, ELK has come up with a pretty good game here. The soundtrack sets the mood, and it is certainly easy on the eyes. When it comes to features, the individual parts might not be completely original. But when everything is brought together the result is something fresh. It is also easy to get lost in. And once immersed, any comparison to other slots fades away by its very playable nature.
Cygnus (ELK Studios)
● Reels: 6
● Rows: 4 - 8
● Paylines: 4,096 - 262,144
● RTP: 96.10%
● Max Payout: 5,000x
● Variance: H (8/10)
● Bets: 0.20 - 100 EUR
● Features: Avalanche mechanic, Progressive Win Multiplier, Free Spins
● Release Date: December 3, 2019
Bigwinboard Rating - 80%