Darkness

(Print Studios) Slot Review

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Darkness: Slot Overview

You know, it wasn't long ago we were musing about how Halloween slots are generally more cute than scary. It might have been during the review of NetEnt's Don't Eat the Candy, but this assessment could apply to a whole raft of games. Well, put a pin in those thoughts because developer Print Studios has completely crucified that theory. The team has done so in the online slot Darkness, described by its maker as 'Halloween gaming beyond the expected.' Yeah, yeah, they all say stuff like that, right, before delivering a game full of cuddly cats, candles, and maybe a pointy-toothed pumpkin or two. Not so Darkness, which is so unsettling that its climactic moment during free spins is so, well, dark, skittish players might hesitate wanting to trigger it.

Before descending into the inferno, players are required to use a slider to adjust the literal darkness of their display. This can be altered once the game has begun if it all ends up a bit too dark… or not dark enough. The setting is some sort of musty old house, where it looks like the ritual has gone wrong already, letting loose an Eldritch horror into a dimension it was never meant to inhabit, coalescing everything it touches into a biological mess of branches and bones. It's all a bit spooky, like actually spooky, not regular slot spooky. 'Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability.' If that H. P. Lovecraft quote resonates, then you might possess the right sort of curiosity to continue into Darkness to see what sort of horror lurks beneath an already terrifying exterior.

Darkness slot
Darkness slot - base game

There are three ways of kickstarting Darkness' horror. One is the normal way - picking a stake of 20 p/ to $/€50 and slamming the play button. The second is activating the Scatter Boost, which increases the stake by 50%. The benefit of switching the Scatter Boost on is that the free spins hit frequency shifts from 1 in 300.38 spins to 1 in 122.19 spins. The third method is buying free spins for the cost of 100x the bet. The RTP is different in each mode, from 96.14% when regularly betting, 96.4% with the Scatter Boost on, and 96.79% for the feature buy. Volatility is medium-high, or 4 out of, numerically speaking.

In the middle of the scene is a 5-reel, 4-row gaming panel. It is indeed rather dark, even with the game's brightness setting set to maximum, but the unorthodox approach does fit the whole experience. The grid is covered in 26 paylines, awarding wins left to right from the first reel onwards. Fortunately, Print Studios has named each symbol so we know exactly what we are dealing with – Light Wiccan Twigs, Vibrant Wiccan Twigs, Noble Wiccan Twigs, Eldritch Wiccan Twigs, a vial, a dagger, a chalice, Isadora, and Agatha as the normal pay symbols. These symbols award wins of 0.2 to 25 times the bet for hitting a 5 OAK winning line. The Dirge Wild is the most valuable symbol at 50x the bet for five, and it can be used to substitute any regular pay symbol.

Darkness: Slot Features

Darkness slot
Darkness slot - free spins

Performing a ritual requires gathering the right components, one supposes, and in Darkness, that means bringing together features such as SuperSpinners, Giant symbols, and free spins known around here as the Dark Ritual Bonus.

SuperSpinners

A Print Studios trademark, SuperSpinners are the numbers you can see displayed between the columns of symbols on the game grid. There are 14 of them in total, and if a winline passes through an active SuperSpinner and the SuperSpinner is on the left of a winning symbol, the number multiplies the win. Multiple SuperSpinners on the same winning line apply their number one at a time.

Giant Symbols

Giant symbols may land on any spin. They hit in sizes of 3x2 to 5x4, and each position covered by a giant symbol counts as one instance of a regular-sized symbol.

Dark Ritual Bonus

Hitting 3, 4, or 5 scatter symbols awards 10, 12, or 14 free spins. The shape of a pentagram marks the gaming grid at the start of the round. When a Dirge wild lands on one of the five points of the pentagram, it locks in position till the round finishes and awards +2 free spins. If all 5 positions are filled with locked chanting Dirge Wilds, Lucifer is summoned, making reels 2, 3, and 4 wild for the rest of the bonus round.

Darkness slot
Darkness slot - free spins

Darkness: Slot Verdict

If the online slot market was a high school, Darkness would be the kid who keeps to themselves, always wears black, and listens to music which shocks and kind of saddens their grandparents. Seriously, so malign is the theme the subject matter on its own might be enough to put some players off. Imagine playing this thing at 2 a.m. on a dark and stormy night; the wind whistling through the trees, rain pattering against the window, a random door starts banging, and you're about to trigger the Lucifer section of the bonus round. Hashtag shiver. Nah, maybe if you're a little squeamish, maybe stick to spinning Darkness in the daylight, in public so there are loads of people around should a portal to the nether regions open up on your device, letting in something disturbing and its accompanying wizards.

Yeah, okay, we might have gone a little overboard there, but such is Darkness' uniqueness it got those sorts of thoughts swirling around. Print Studios has proven well adept at creating engaging game worlds in the past, as seen in slots like Royal Potato, Royal Potato 2, Pine of Plinko, Cash Defense, and Reapers. Most of its games, really, and Darkness is another one that gets under your skin. Not just the insidious outer shell either, but the features and gameplay are critical factors in Darkness' immersion. On their own, stripped away from each other and the game they inhabit, some of the features on an individual basis might not be super original. But after melding together with the terrifying robes they're dressed up in, they present a formidable, if slightly frightening, whole.

Should the ritual all go according to plan, Darkness can conjure up wins as high as 20,000x the bet. A solid reward for players daring enough to take on what is by far the spookiest slot (so far) in Print Studios collection, one which joins games like True Kult or Blood & Shadow infesting the more unsettling edge of the online gambling realm.

Great

From the fringes of the online gambling market, Darkness conjures up unique action for those who favour unsettling subject matter.

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