Milky Ways: Overview
Cast off into the void with developer Nolimit City's astro-influenced slot Milky Ways. Speaking of influences, there is one slot that immediately springs to mind when doing the gems in space thing. As the Sean Bean meme might say - one simply cannot avoid the comparison to NetEnt's iconic slot Starburst. It could be the color scheme in combination with the soothing music, but there is definitely a degree of recognition factor involved here.
On closer inspection, however, Milky Ways is a vast improvement in the looks department. Cast your eyes over that view of the galaxy as asteroids drift on the solar winds, and a mysterious corona surrounded black hole dominates the middle of the screen. Then there is the music which sounds like a Martians jamming with Brain Eno to create Sufi infused instrumental tracks. It's the kind of sound you switch off all the lights, lie down on the floor to awaken your Kundalini to, or, something like that.
Let's bring it back to earth for a moment to deal with bet selection where options from 20 p/c to £/100 per spin are available. Default RTP is decent on 96.14%, but some operators may choose to lower the setting to 94.24% should they so wish. Make sure to check before inserting credits. Volatility, meanwhile, sits on the medium to high spectrum (8/10 rating), which is combined with a hit rate of 33.2%. In other words, winning combinations should, in theory at least, appear relatively frequently.
There are no pay both ways mechanics here, players get 243 win ways instead on the 5-reel, 3-row grid. Winning combos consist of three or more matching symbols, left to right from the first reel. Symbols themselves are a mix of classic J-A royals, and Starburst inspired gems of various hues- blue, green, yellow, and red. Values are very low, with five of the red gems pulling in just 2.5x at the most.
Milky Ways: Features
The features listed in Milky Ways help sever any ties the game might have with Starburst - they include Solar Wilds, Milky Way Spins, and Fusion Spins.
First is Solar Wilds which appear on reels 2, 3, or 4, substituting for anything except the scatter. Solar Wilds possess multipliers of x1 to x3, which are multiplied together if more than Solar Wild is in play.
To unlock the bonus game, you'll need 3 Milky Ways scatters to land on the middle reels. When that happens, 3 Milky Ways Spins are awarded. During the feature, two rows are bolted on to create a 5x5 grid with 3,125 win ways. Each Milky Ways spin guarantees 2 Solar Wilds will land on any of the middle three reels. Should a Milky Ways scatter appear, then an extra spin is awarded.
Now, whenever a win occurs on a Milky Ways Spin, a Fusion Spin is triggered. Fusion Spins lock the winning symbols and reward a respin. Any new winning symbols are also locked, and respins will continue until no new winners appear.
In theory, the bonus round triggers on average 1 in 66 spins, so you won't have to sit around forever. But if you just can't wait, the developer has included a Nolimit Bonus Buy feature to skip the base game altogether. For the cost of 38 times the stake, three scatters land on the next spin.
Milky Ways: Verdict
Nolimit City is no doubt a versatile developer, and Milky Ways continues their expansion into the somewhat less volatile segment of the market. We mentioned Starburst in the overview section, but other than the galactic setting and the jewels, Milky Ways offers a different gaming experience altogether. Milky Ways is also an interesting indicator of how far Nolimit City has progressed. When you look back at similar slots in their catalogue like Wixx or Space Arcade, it is interesting to see how far they've come.
As a more recent comparison, iSoftBet's Euphoria might be a closer comparison thanks to the dreamy, off-world vibe. Looks are certainly one of Milky Ways' highlights, as is the ethereal soundtrack that sounds like Peter Frampton jamming through a talk box at times.
So the senses are covered, how about the gameplay? While entertaining, Milky Ways isn't one of Nolimit's massive high-intensity slots if that's what you are after. There are few times when you feel like your legs are dangling over the roller coaster edge before leaving you guts at the top when it drops.
There are a few possible sticking points. The game can get a bit repetitive for one, though that is sort par for the course with this style. Miniscule symbol values might be more of an issue, yet the potential isn't bad since wins of up to 5,664 times the bet are possible.
So fun comes in short, sharp bursts, climaxing with the Milky Ways Spins/Fusion Spins feature. You won't have to wait forever for it to drop either due to a relatively generous hit frequency, or the low cost to buy. But three spins isn't a whole lot to play with. The bonus buy might be low cost, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
Fusion spins help, and the first time four reels ended up covered in winning symbols, there was a feeling of 'oh yeah, here we go.' But again, due to low values, the resulting win isn't always exactly stellar. Still, payouts are fairly steady, and overall potential is certainly there on its good days.
Whatever your thoughts on Milky Ways, you can't help but acknowledge Nolimit City is conjuring up good stuff on the whole. Their range is pushing out in all directions, and the audio/visual team is doing a great job with each new release. Milky Ways has its ups and downs, but for some Starburst+ action with decent potential and a few tricks it's not half bad.
Milky Ways is a well-crafted entry into the space genre that blasts off, but fails to reach orbit.