Dead Man’s Trail: Slot Overview
Dead Man’s Trail is a pirate-themed slot from developer Relax Gaming, featuring a long-winded bonus game that can lead to some serious loot. With pirate slots, there’s a tendency to kick off a review with some sort of call to the high seas. Get some wind in your sails, feel the salt air on your sunburned cheeks, and bounce optimistically across the waves to an unmapped destination. Not so much Dead Man’s Trail, which is more akin to gliding stealthily into misty coves, committing dark deeds in dark corners, or making dodgy deals with unsavoury characters in less than savoury establishments. In short, this is a grimmer portrayal of pirate life, padded out by a base game Coin feature and the Dead Man’s Trail Bonus.
It must be hurricane season in the Caribbean as a ship sails into a harbour braced by towering mountains that surround several other galleons bobbing around in rough seas. Dead Man’s Trail is moody as heck and located in a shantytown full of suspect swabs. A thick atmospheric drapes the game, presenting audio-visuals you don’t automatically associate with Relax Gaming. Cast your mind back to Sails of Fortune, which is like Disney’s It’s a Small World, by comparison. Dead Man’s Trail diverts from this one to provide an enjoyably darker experience.
The game is played over a 5×4, 40 payline grid, allowing bets from 10 p/c to £/€20 per spin to be placed. It might not instantly look like a Relax game, but it produces the sort of stats that are typical of the studio. For one, volatility is high, so one minute it seems like you’ve found the ‘X’ on a treasure map; the next minute, it’s blowing away in the wind. The RTP, meanwhile, is a neatly average figure of 96.29%.
Eight regular pay symbols appear on the paytable, split down the middle between four high pays and four J-A tiles. Premiums are made up of four character symbols – a hero with an eyepatch, a seen-it-all-piratess, a governor type (possibly shady), and a gruff-looking gentleman who appears to have a map tattooed on his hairless head. Not exactly a trustworthy lot that nevertheless pays out a prize worth 5 to 30 times the stake for a line of five of a kind. The wilds are worth double the top premium is five land on payline, and also substitute all paying symbols on the reels to complete a win.
Dead Man’s Trail: Slot Features
Dead Man’s Trail comes with two extras. One is a Coin feature popping up in the base game, the other is the Dead Man’s Trail Bonus which can either be triggered organically or bought if permissible.
The Coin feature is a basic extra which adds a bit of variety to the base game. Special coin symbols exist on all reels, displaying a bet multiplier value. If coins land on at least three different reels at once, the sum of the values on all coins present are awarded.
Landing 3 or more bonus symbols triggers the Dead Man’s Trail Bonus. The reels are cleared, and the bonus game is played on a map covered in a trail which the player’s pawn moves around. A random number is revealed each turn, from 1-9, moving the player that number of steps around the trail. Landing on a tile triggers an action depending on its type. After a Normal Tile or Mystery Chest has been landed on, the tile turns into an End Tile.
Normal Tiles display a prize value that is collected. Skull and crossbones are End Tiles, landing on one of these ends the feature, then awards the total collected win. The Start Tile triggers the Reset Action (covered below), while Chest Tiles trigger 1 of 11 special actions:
- Scout: adds +100 to +1,000 to a random Normal Tile.
- One-Eye: multiplies the value of a normal tile by x2-x5, repeats 2-4 times.
- Commander: adds +3 to +5 to all normal tiles.
- Collector: collects the summed value of all normal tiles to the total win.
- Collect & Command: adds the summed value of all normal tiles to each Normal Tile, as well as to the total win.
- Reset: replaces all End Tiles with Normal Tiles
- Super Reset: replaces all End Tiles with temporary Mystery Chests.
- Coin Win: random coin win of 25x to 50x is added to the total win.
- Persistent Scout: works like Scout but acts at the end of every turn.
- Persistent One-Eye: works like One-Eye, but acts at the end of every turn.
- Persistent Commander: works like Commander but acts at the end of every turn.
Where available, players can fast track the Dead Man’s Trail feature by buying it for 100 times the total stake. Doing so lands at least 3 bonus symbols on the next spin. Buying the feature has a theoretical return value of 98%.
Dead Man’s Trail: Slot Verdict
In Dead Man’s Trail, players discover a new side of Relax Gaming while enjoying their usual brand of volatile, big potential gameplay. The studio has broken away from the light, cartoony style to a grittier, more realistic look, making a pleasant change that fits the theme. On the gaming side of things, the base game is there to grind away to trigger the bonus, though Coins do appear at times to mix up the flow and fire off a win or two.
It’s the Dead Man’s Trail feature where impressive potential may be found. When you read about the feature on paper, it sounds similar to Money Train 2, yet it is rather different in practice. Instead of landing Bonus Symbols in streak respins, the goal is to collect rewards as you move around the trail. There is a touch of MT2, though, as you pile up Normal Tile values while hoping for special symbols to step in and boost the win rate.
There are two ways of squeezing the most out of the bonus game. One is by hitting Reset, either from chests or the starting tile itself. This very helpfully clears all the End Tiles, giving you more space to keep on playing. The other is from special symbols that are just as game-changing in Dead Man’s Trail as they are in Money Train 2 – persistent ones especially. It is a lot more difficult to build decent wins just from regular Normal Tile values without triggering special actions from Mystery Chests.
When Normal Tiles are boosted by Scouts or One-Eyes, for example, they can increase in value very quickly. In fact, individual tiles can be worth as much as 10,000x the bet, and the game has a win cap of 50,000x. Like MT2, you’ll need significant amounts of special symbols to do some real damage.
The Dead Man’s Trail feature won’t be for everyone. It can be extremely frustrating finally triggering it then bowing out early before piling up a decent win. Even worse is doing so after buying the feature, though there is a high RTP when doing so. However, the bonus game can also be exceptionally intense when there are big values on the trail and you’re dodging End Tiles to collect them. For a break from free spins or streak respins, with a potentially massive payoff, Dead Man’s Trail piles on the nautical atmosphere while packing in all the entertainment needed to thrill adventurous players.
Dead Man’s Trail piles on the nautical atmosphere while packing in all the entertainment needed to thrill adventurous players.