Hades - River of Souls: Overview
Developer Fantasma Games builds on the fantasy theme of their previous slot Heroes Hunt Megaways while taking a darker turn in the process. This time the Swedish studio takes players deep into the earth’s bowels where souls cross the river Styx to roam the underworld. Down there is a place where fortunes can be found by brave players or lucky ones at least. The goal, according to Fantasma, is to escape the underworld while picking up as many riches as possible.
Despite the sinister premise we can get down with that mission, and Fantasma has crafted a moody world in which to do so. A 5-reel, 10-payline grid sits in a jagged cavernous underworld, in all its spectral glory. The creative team at Fantasma has crafted a great scene, but it might have had more impact if the grid was transparent so we could see more of it. Adding to the visual obstruction is a panel above the reels for special symbols, taking up even more of the screen. Not a major, just an observation.
Around the game area what we do see are crags, and cliffs, while sparks rise ominously up from the ground. The scene provokes a frisson when you wonder what happens to the poor souls down there. But let’s look on the bright side, this is a cartoon, not the real thing.
On the subject of sensory experience, the audio deserves a mention. It is hair rising on the back of your neck good at times. Along with a dark, rumbling soundtrack is some excellent chorus work, including a sweet Book of Ra type blast when certain symbols appear or actions take place.
It’s not hard to imagine an eternity down there being a somewhat brutal fate. Fantasma has channelled some of those trying times into a highly volatile math model. Decent potential exists, but know that nabbing riches from the underworld isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Helping balance things out, in the long run, is a solid RTP of 96.56%, as well as a hit frequency of nearly one in five (19.49%).
Playable across all devices from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin, winners occur when three or more matching symbols land on one of the 10 pay lines – both ways. So winning combinations pay from left to right as well as right to left, upping your chances.
The paytable is a nice collection of ancient Greek mythology. Starting with the low pays which Fantasma has cleverly styled after those old pots you see in museums inlaid with ravens, snakes, deer, bulls, and lions. The high pays, in ascending order are some sort of gyro, a helmet, Cerberus, Persephone, and of course, Hades as the most valuable pay symbol.
Five Hades on a line is worth 10 times the stake, which, doubles to 20 thanks to pay both ways. According to legend, Hades was the oldest son of Cronus though the last to be regurgitated by him. Clearly, that experience earns him the right to head of the paytable.
Hades - River of Souls: Features
Just as the underworld isn’t short of souls, nor is the slot version short on features. Players get base and bonus game features such as Avalanches, Wild Souls Multipliers, the Skull of Charon, and Hades Free Spins.
Avalanches appear in all game modes, activating whenever there is a win. All symbols in the winning combination are removed to let new ones fall, providing more winning opportunities to win. Above the reels, special symbols are displaying for players to track, and hopefully, tumbledown when Avalanches occur.
Wild symbols are the key to the Wild Souls Multiplier which starts at x1. The wild substitutes for any regular pay symbols and every 3 used in a winning combination increase the Wild Souls Multiplier by +1. When an Avalanche sequence ends, the multiplier is applied to the total win. During the base game, it resets to x1 on new spins.
In what is possibly the most cheerful depiction of Charon ever, the grinning skull symbol triggers The Skull of Charon feature. The skull symbol may appear on any spin, activating when there are no more winning combinations. It then scoots around the reels, removing 2-10 random regulars to let new symbols fall for additional chances to win.
This leads us to the highlight of the game - Hades Free Spins. The Golden Trident symbols are what you want here since 3 on the reels award 10 free spins. Any additional tridents in view add 5 more spins to the total, each. During free spins, 3 winning wilds increase the multiplier by +2, with the added benefit that it never resets between spins. The feature can be retriggered in the same way as it is triggered.
Hades - River of Souls: Verdict
Hades - River of Souls is a well-made slot, possessing some genuinely entertaining moments. It can be tricky to crack, but the rewards are there for the bold and lucky. For some reason, it brought to mind Avatar UX’s PopRocks. Both are tough, high volatile slots that rely on a progressive multiplier to get the best out of. In Hades case, the best means potential wins of up to 5,058 times your stake. There is also a similar vibe in the two games, though Hades comes out trumps– largely helped by its superb sounds and great visual presentation.
As to visuals, seeing special symbols above the reels in the queue is a double-edged sword. Epic, when they cascade in right where you want them - frustrating when they don’t. Overall it’s an interesting idea. All up, Fantasma Games has crafted another highly playable slot. It doesn’t quite match up to Heroes Hunt Megaways in terms of max payouts, or gameplay. But, it’s a nicely atmospheric game to immerse yourself in, with some interesting features, and potential to boot.
Hades – River of Souls is a highly polished product with excellent audio/visuals that requires dedication to unlock its finest moments.