Mental: Slot Overview
After the run Nolimit City's been on, a game titled 'Mental' is going to have players either running in fear or dashing to their laptop to pick up the gauntlet. For players in the latter group, Mental presents a hefty challenge. The studio has experience designing slots that have a relatively complicated set of rules and features. Mental takes this to the extreme in many ways by jamming in dynamic reel action, splitting symbols, transformations, symbol multipliers - the whole shebang. We'll try to break it down, but it will be difficult to rely much of what happens in Mental on paper. Something else hard to convey is how downright creepy Mental is. But hey, we're as keen on a challenge as we are for a big brutal slot so let's plough in and see where we end up.
Let's just say, the first place we end up isn't the most pleasant spot to spend a Friday night. The first impressions are a collage of old-fashioned asylums, Victorian-era anatomical sketches, therapy verging on torture, and Hannibal Lecter. If you're waiting for the punchline, there isn't one. Mental takes the topic of psychiatric care very seriously. From the flickering lights to the sepia tones to the slithering soundtrack, Mental has been put together to spook as much as entertain. It might not scar you forever like certain slasher flicks do, but it gets as close to doing so as a slot ever has.
Mental is played on a 5-reel game grid, a little like Tombstone's though arranged in a 3-2-3-2-3 layout, providing 108 ways to win, though the reels can expand up to a maximum of 20 rows. Wins form when three or more matching symbols land on adjacent reels from the left-hand side of the grid. Default RTP comes in at 96.08%, rising when buying the various features to a maximum of 96.47%. Volatility, well, we probably don't have to say this, has been rated 'Extreme' by the studio, so prepare yourself mentally for that reality. Playable on any device, Mental offers stakes of 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin.
The atmosphere gets denser when going over the symbols, starting with five body parts as the lower value tiles – skeletal hands, kidneys, hearts, brains, and eyes. If that wasn't enough, five patients are used for the high pays, anonymously referred to as Patient 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Landing five matching patient symbols is worth a payout of 1.5 to 5 times the stake. Deep breath, time for the features.
Mental: Slot Features
Listing the features will give us a logical way of working through them, so in Mental, you'll come across extras as Fire Frames, Dead Patients, Enhancer Cells, Mental Transformations, Autopsy Free Spins, Lobotomy Free Spins, Mental Free Spins, !!! This is Mental !!!, and 4 feature buy options.
In the main game, on every spin, 1 to 13 positions are randomly surrounded by flames. These are called Fire Frames, and any symbol landing within one splits into 2 parts.
The ominously titled Dead Patient feature triggers when 2 Dead Patient symbols hit. It reveals 1 of the premium patient symbols with a random multiplier of x5, x10, x15, x30, x50, x100, x300, x500, x1,000, or x9,999 attached. The multiplier value equates to the number of that symbol on the reel rather than a win multiplier.
At the bottom of reels 2 and 4 are the Enhancer Cells. Reel 2 and reel 4 are activated with 4 or 6 Fire Frames, respectively. When active, Enhancer Cells reveal one of these effects:
- A wild symbol.
- 1 of the 5 patient symbols.
- A regular Dead Patient symbol.
- xWays – reveals three identical symbols, but not Scorpion, Spider, or Dead Patient symbols.
- xSplit – splits one symbol on each reel into two, then splits itself into 2 wilds.
- xNudge Wild - nudges so it is fully visible on the reel. Each nudged step increases a win multiplier by 1. More than one wild multiplier adds the values.
Landing spider symbols on reel 2 or 4 triggers the Mental Transform feature. Spiders transform into either xWays, xSplit, Dead Patient, Wild, or Patient symbol.
Autopsy Free Spins
Next up is free spins. The first one, 8 Autopsy Free Spins, is awarded when 3 Scorpion symbols land on reels 1, 3, and 5. Each Scorpion symbol landing in a Fire Frame awards +1 spin. In this bonus game, up to 5 positions are randomly given a Fire Frame. Once landed, Fire Frames stick throughout the feature. It is possible to upgrade Autopsy Spins to Lobotomy Spins by landing a Spider Symbol.
Lobotomy Free Spins
Landing 3 Scorpion Symbol + 1 Spider Symbol in the base game awards 9 Lobotomy Spins. In addition to Autopsy Spin rules, any Spider Symbols that hit are sticky, triggering Mental Transformations on each spin. There is also a Dead Multiplier rule. The highest Multiplier value from Dead Symbols is collected with a count. When new Patient symbols hit, their collected multiplier is applied to it, then 1 deducted from the count. Landing 2 Spider Symbols upgrades to Mental Freespins.
Mental Free Spins
The most lucrative bonus is triggered from the main game if 3 Scorpion Symbols and 2 Spider Symbols hit, awarding 10 spins. What changes here is both Spider Symbols are sticky, triggering Mental Transformations on each spin. Also, the Dead Multiplier count does not decrease after its multiplier is transferred to new Patient symbols.
If bonus buys are an option where you live, then paying 80, 200, or 1,000 times the stake gets you 8-11 Autopsy Free Spins, 9-13 Lobotomy Freespins, or 10-15 Mental Free spins, respectively. Paying 220x the stake is a lucky dip option with 50% chance of getting Autopsy, 40% for Lobotomy, or 10% of landing Mental Freespins.
Finally, !!! This is Mental !!! is the name given to the scenario when players hit the max win figure of 66,666 times the base stake.
Mental: Slot Verdict
Well, Mental certainly lives up to its name, no arguments. There are scant few games like this floating around. None actually, yet is there a reason for that? Mental is a grim slot, one not designed to make players chuckle unless they have an unusual sense of humour. It means Mental doesn't have the same fun factor as other hits Nolimit has churned out this year. There's none of the joyous East Coast vs West Coast bounce, the rib-tickling of xWays Hoarder xSplit, or the dark humour found in El Paso Gunfight xNudge and San Quentin xWays. This is a serious subject, dealt with in a serious manner. Perhaps when picking this topic, you've got no choice other than to go heavy. When the gaming's done you might need to do something to clear your mental palate, like putting on an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians after watching a horror movie. It's funny, going back to play slots like Immortal Romance, A Dark Matter, or Mysterious is like watching Barney the Dinosaur sing the four times table.
Another possible concern is the complexity of the bonus games. No one's questioning Mental's ability to go wild when the right symbols are hitting, but it does teeter on being a tad too convoluted at times. Demoing is a requirement, and even then, it requires a good playthrough to pick up on all the various nuances. Some players are sure to lap up the complexity, others will flee the asylum to find the nearest fruit machine.
When tackling Mental's paytable, it's not hard to picture a group of bearded Victorian gentlemen with pipes dissecting the rules, trying to figure out what's going on before giving up and inventing natural selection instead, because it's more obvious. Jokes aside, Mental's not so bad when you take the time to go over the rules, yet it's nigh on indecipherable otherwise. There's just so much cutting, slicing, transforming, locking, and whatnot that Mental is initially overwhelming. It's very clever, no doubts there, but Mental skims the limit on complex kitchen sink gaming.
To sum up, sure, we've been goofing around a bit, but Mental is about as dark as it gets in a slot. If you're down with the subject matter, the unsettling visuals, and unwieldy rules, there is a one-of-a-kind game here that pushes the envelope as much as anything Nolimit City has released.
Mental hits you like a sledgehammer with its astounding, stunningly creepy presentation.