Deadwood Slot (Nolimit City): Overview
The American Wild West has brought fame to countless actors and made writers wealthy. It has inspired kids on the playground and been immortalized in endless country tunes. Its legends of heroes and bandits, gold rushes and vagabonds have been romanticized to the point that they're known all over the globe. Aside from NetEnt with their iconic Dead or Alive slot, few other developers have approached this era in time with as much passion and dynamism as Nolimit City did with their 2019 breakthrough release Tombstone.
Deadwood takes over from where Tombstone left off, and as you'd hope, the sequel is bigger, bolder and brighter. The 5 reels have been expanded to give room for one extra symbol on each reel which effectively allows for 576 ways to win on the 3-4-4-4-3 format, as opposed to 108 in the original. Whilst the volatility remains as high as ever before, the hit frequency has been given a boost which means players should experience a slightly more balanced game.
Although the RTP has been lowered ever so slightly, it's still sits on the right side of the border at 96.03%. Not only that, the RTP is distributed differently here which essentially means you'll face a whole new beast. In Tombstone, 2/3 of the RTP is allocated to the features, but in Deadwood, it's the other way around. In other words, more payouts in the base game, which makes sense when you look at the increase in hit frequency.
With the technicalities behind us, it's time to look at the visual production. Firing up Deadwood will disappoint no one, especially not fans of the original. Comparing the two games side by side really highlights the remarkable journey this small studio has made in the course of a year. Gone is that cartoonish feel of Tombstone. What you get here is something far grittier, darker and more mature. It revisits familiar ground, yet the difference is significant.
Set against the dusty main street of Deadwood, an old Western town in the middle of nowhere, and with a rather tranquil soundtrack playing in the background, the actual reels are encased in a metal box whilst the symbols sit on oak wood board planks.
Playable from 10 c/p up to €/£100 per spin, there are a total of 10 regular symbols included in the game. The low paying symbols come in the form of rusty old metallic 10 to A royals with bullet holes in them which are worth from 1x to 1.25x for five of a kind combinations. The premiums, meanwhile, are represented by double barrel shotguns, Deadwood whiskey bottles, money safes, gold watches, and gold bars. The latter being the most lucrative, giving you 3.75 times your stake for five across a full payline.
Deadwood Slot (Nolimit City): Features
If you've played the original, the base game features will be somewhat familiar to you. The most frequent of these features is the Hunter Wild, a fully stacked wild symbol that can appear on the three central reels. When it appears in view partly, it's nudged in place with the help of the xNudge feature to cover the full reel whilst also increasing a win multiplier by x1 for every nudge. Better yet, if there are more than one wild, the multipliers are combined so that 2x and 2x equals 4x for example.
In the original version, a sheriff and Marshall badge appearing on the first and last reels triggers the Justice Spins. Here, a sheriff badge landing on reels 1 and 5 in the base game activates the Shoot Out feature. Once in play, any low paying symbol visible on the three middle reels are transformed into wilds.
Deadwood comes with not one, but two Free Spins games. Landing 3 buffalo skulls anywhere in view gives you the option to play either 8 Gunslinger Spins or 8 Hunter Spins. Here's what you get:
Gunslinger Spins (high risk, high potential) - any Hunter Wild landing on the reels activate an unlimited win multiplier which remains in play throughout the round. With each nudge of the Hunter Wild, the win multiplier is increased by x1 and never resets. An extra spin is also added to the total whenever the sheriff badge appears on reel 1 or 5. Now, if both the sheriff badges appear simultaneously, the feature is upgraded to Shoot Out Gunslinger Spins where the sheriff badges are locked in position. More on that below.
Hunter Spins (less volatile option) - Here, at least 1 Hunter Wild is guaranteed to land during each spin (resets between spins). Other than that, the rules are exactly the same as in the Gunslinger Spins when it comes to the functionality of the sheriff badge. In other words, there's a chance to upgrade the feature to Shoot Out Gunslinger Spins here as well.
The highlight and the key to the biggest wins is the Shoot Out Free Spins feature. It comes into play either by landing 2 sheriff badge symbols + 3 scatters in the base game, or by landing 2 sheriff badges during any of the two free spins options. If triggered during the base game, the player gets to choose between 10 Shoot Out Gunslinger Spins or 10 Shoot Out Hunter Spins.
During this mode, the sheriff badges remain locked in position whilst activating the Shoot Out feature on each spin which transforms all low value symbols appearing on the three middle reels into wilds.
Finally, for those who don't feel like waiting for the bonus to drop organically, there is always the choice to use the feature buy option. The price depends on the feature, with the Shoot Out Free Spins being the most expensive at a staggering 750x. With such a hefty price tag it's bound to stir up some controversy. The price may indeed seem ridiculous at first, but since the feature is highly potent, it's a risk many will feel worth going for. Moreover, buying the feature gives you a slight advantage through an increase in RTP by up to 0.10%. If you want to go with the cheaper feature buy option, the standard version of the free spins will set you back 71x.
Deadwood Slot (Nolimit City): Verdict
As you've seen, Deadwood stands on its own two feet when directly compared to Tombstone. It might share some similarities on the surface, in particular in terms of the base game features, but the fact is that Deadwood is a completely different game in almost every aspect. For one, the base game might appear more forgiving due to the increased hit frequency and that extra chunk of RTP. It's a much busier slot altogether where features appear more frequently, even if triggering the bonus can be a bit of a challenge as the bonus seems to come in, on average, at a rate of around 1 in 200 spins.
Surprisingly, the one area where things haven't changed much is the maximum win potential which, at 13,950 times your stake, doesn't stand out much from the 11,456x on offer in the original. Where NetEnt went all in with Dead or Alive 2 by raising the win potential from 10,000x to 111,111x, Nolimit City took a more cautious approach. Then again, it's significantly harder for smaller developers to "sell" their games to operators with extreme payout potential without the option to limit the bet size.
Overall, Deadwood is an outstanding slot that manages to live up to most of our expectations. The most obvious of upgrades is in the visual department, but we're glad to see that the developer has avoided the lazy route of cloning the old math model. With a fresh approach, it allows for an all-around more unique and interesting gaming experience. As it stands, Deadwood is an excellent alternative to Tombstone and not necessarily a complete replacement.
There's also a third instalement in Nolimit City's western-themed series of slots titled El Paso Gunfight xNudge. It comes bundled with a wide range of feature buy options while offering potential of over 40,000 times your stake.
It’s a fast-paced, all-encompassing, adrenaline fueled experience. If you enjoyed Tombstone, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Deadwood.