Phoenix Graveyard: Slot Overview
Phoenix Graveyard is a dynamic-reeled, atmospheric online slot from software provider ELK Studios. If you were thinking a graveyard for phoenixes can't be doing a roaring trade since the birds are immortal, it's actually the name given to a burial ground in a town called Phoenix. Much of Phoenix Graveyard has roots in previous ELK slots where a wealth of sliced symbols, increasing ways, battling wilds, free spins, and multipliers appear.
Right away, Phoenix Graveyard felt a much darker sort of game than ELK usually makes. Even in their end of the world slots, the studio tends to sprinkle in elements of humour to brighten the mood. There are few chuckles to be found in Phoenix Graveyard. Instead, it's pretty heavy, located in an Ichabod Crane sort of spot, full of ominous wooden houses and leafless trees that look like they reach into open bedroom windows at night to grab people. The inclusion of the Grim Reaper is the final nail in a seriously sombre game that looks closer to a Play' n GO rock slot than what ELK normally do. Let's be brave and play on.
To do so, setting bets is in order where choices range from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. The action itself takes place on a 5-reel, 3-row matrix with 243 ways to win – initially at least, since sliced symbols can blow that figure right the fudge up. The RTP comes in at ELK's favoured figure of 95%, while volatility is characteristically high.
All wins in Phoenix Graveyard start from the leftmost reel and pay from left to right in consecutive reels. What we find pay symbol-wise are four low-value card ranks (J-A) and three fantasy looking characters. Landing a winning way of five low pay symbols is worth 0.6 to 1.2 times the stake, while five premiums are worth 1.5 to 4 times the bet. And so concludes this section.
Phoenix Graveyard: Slot Features
If you've been following ELK, then some of Phoenix Graveyard's features will have a familiar ring to them. Here we cover a couple of wild symbols, expanding ways, battles, free spins, and X-iter game modes.
On any spin, a tombstone frame may appear around any position, displaying a number of ways. Adding tombstones to random positions is called Sudden Death. When the reels stop spinning, the symbol that lands inside the tombstone is split according to the number of ways. This maxes out at 10 symbols per tombstone.
Two wild symbols appear in Phoenix Graveyard – a Phoenix and a Grim Reaper wild. Wilds land with a multiplier of x1, and when split by a tombstone, the multiplier is multiplied by the number of ways.
- Phoenix wilds remain on the reels during respins and in between free spins, though they leap to a new position each time. If their first leap is from a tombstone, they get a multiplier equal to the number of ways displayed on the tombstone.
- Grim Reaper wilds appear on reels 3-5 and trigger respins when they hit. After any win evaluation, Grim Reapers attack all adjacent high value or Phoenix wild symbols. For the respin, the Grim Reaper walks one reel to the left. Before walking, Grim Reapers get multipliers if moving from a tombstone. Respins continue until Grim Reapers walk off the grid.
When Grim Reapers attack high-value symbols, they add a tombstone to that position which stays there for the duration of the respin, as well as into and out of free spins. When Grim Reapers attack a Phoenix wild, either the Phoenix wild gets a double multiplier, the Grim Reaper gets a double multiplier, or the Phoenix Wild jumps to a new position leaving a Feather wild in its place. Feather wilds can turn into Phoenix wilds on a subsequent spin, gaining a multiplier if it is in a tombstone.
The bonus game is triggered when 3, 4, or 5 bonus symbols land, awarding 6 free spins with 1 Phoenix wild, 8 free spins with 2 Phoenix wilds, or 10 free spins with 3 Phoenix wilds, respectively. Now, Phoenix wilds spawn where triggering bonus symbols landed and take a multiplier equal to the tombstone ways value if there is one. Phoenix wilds remain on the reels for the duration of free spins, jumping to a new position between spins. Tombstones carry over from the triggering spin and can appear during the bonus round, remaining on the grid for the duration of the feature.
Flicking into X-iter mode gives players five different ways of playing the game:
- Sudden Death – 10x the bet to buy a game round where all positions in a row get tombstone frames. This can occur on 1-3 rows.
- Grim Reaper & Phoenix Battle – 25x the bet for a game round where a Phoenix wild and a Grim Reaper wild land adjacently to do battle.
- Buy Bonus – 100x the bet to guarantee at least 3 bonus symbols land.
- Big Bonus – 200x the bet to guarantee at least 4 bonus symbols land.
- Super Bonus – 500x the bet to guarantee at least 5 bonus symbols land.
Phoenix Graveyard: Slot Verdict
It took a little longer to warm to Phoenix Graveyard's ways than it usually does with an ELK Studios' slot. One reason is the grimdark setting feels so out of character for them. Sure, the Gold series has visited treacherous parts, but Kane carries a certain light-hearted element with him wherever he goes. Chilling in a graveyard with the Grim Reaper, and not in a funny way, felt surprisingly off for ELK. It's a bit like finding out your mild-mannered crush likes eating raw meat, or something similar.
Once we got over the initial squeamish surprise, Phoenix Graveyard started to heat up, and its charms emerged. On a superficial level, ELK are accomplished audio-graphic artists, and the game has an enjoyably Gothic feel, which plays nicely into its fantastical elements. Phoenixes and Grim Reapers battling it out might not make a lot of sense, but this isn't an issue since it allows them to slice symbols or double multipliers when they appear on screen. Slicing symbols did give Phoenix Graveyard a slightly Nolimit City feel, though tombstone frames are straight from the Nitropolis playbook, which is solidly ELK. While there is a Nitropolis edge (with a touch of Wild Toro), Phoenix Graveyard rarely reached the maniacal levels its dystopic sibling is capable of. This could be good for players curious about the slicing symbols feature but aren't so jazzed about spinning alongside competing animal clans in a post-nuclear world.
On a side note, it's not just mythical birds that might come to Phoenix Graveyard to be buried. It can be a bit of a bankroll graveyard, too, if you're not lucky. Any game can be like that, though, and when Phoenix Graveyard is firing, it fires pretty brightly, turning out wins as high as 10,000x the bet. No doubt scoring a major hit would be thrilling, yet on the whole, Phoenix Graveyard failed to reach the adrenalised heights scaled in the Nitropolis slots.
For players keen on the tombstone/slicing symbol concept but are undecided, let's wrap up by putting it this way. If you want to feel dizzy after being thrown around by a roller coaster, pick Nitropolis; if you prefer the more predictable thrills of a pirate ship ride, Phoenix Graveyard is probably a more suitable option.
Phoenix Graveyard does serve up some grimly good gameplay, but a lack of ELK’s usual light-heartedness might dampen the thrills.