Riders of the Storm (Thunderkick): Overview
It's been nearly three months since we last heard from Thunderkick, which, in an industry as competitive as this one, equals a lifetime. You see, while the rest of the lot struggle for survival in the snake pit, Thunderkick simply shuts down business and heads to the beach. Not that Thunderkick's position as an established provider has ever been threatened, they sit on a gold mine of classics after all, but it's remarkably unusual and also quite bold. Above all, though, it's a mañana-mentality that our fast-paced and stressed out society could learn a lot from.
Thankfully, the arrival of Thunderkick's highly anticipated release Riders of the Storm proves to be well worth the wait, something that becomes instantly palpable when greeted by the magnificent splash screen. With echoing thunder-strikes and a rather emotional piece playing on repeat, the game quite literally gives you a sense of "the calm before the storm". Mechanically, it's built using a 5x3 reel matrix along with 243 ways to win, which means you won't have to keep track of any paylines. In terms of narrative, it has a steampunk feel to it and centers around three characters on a turbulent journey far above the earth's surface. You can lift a ride on the Flying Dutchman from as little as 10 cents up to €/£100 per spin.
Visually, Riders of the Storm is as great as they come with a lot of moving parts and detailed graphics. Set against a massive storm system, and with a couple of lanterns hanging from each corner of the reel set, symbols include 10 to A royals alongside spear-hooks, anchors, and ship wheels. These are followed by the three main characters - the mechanical engineer, the huntress and the patriarch captain. The latter is the most rewarding, giving you 15 times your stake for a five of a kind combination. There's also the wild, which brings us to the next chapter...
Riders of the Storm (Thunderkick): Features
The Crystal Ball Wild symbol doesn't just perform the usual duty of substituting for other symbols here, it has other benefits as well. In the base game, it can appear with a 2x multiplier attached to it. Also in the base game, there's a randomly activated Mystery Wild Reels feature that can activate on any spin and which can transform up to 4 reels into fully stacked wilds. Basically, it's a bit like the wild storm feature in Microgaming's classic game Thunderstorm, although not quite as rewarding in terms of potential.
Look out for the compass scatter - 3, 4 or 5 of them anywhere in view give you 2, 20 or 200 times your total stake and send you flying to the Free Spins round. Before you get underway, you will have to make an active decision as there are 4 bonus option to choose from. Here's what's on offer:
- The Mechanical Engineer - Starting with 15 free spins and played with a x2 walking wild, this option is the lowest in terms of volatility (96.14% RTP).
- The Huntress - Starting with 10 free spins and played with a x3 walking wild, this is the medium variance option (96.15% RTP).
- The Patriarch Captain - Starting with 6 free spins and played with a x5 walking wild, this is the most volatile choice and also the one with the biggest potential (96.14%).
- Mystery Option - Will give you a random number of free spins between 6 - 15 and a random walking wild multiplier of between x2 - x5 (96.14% RTP).
Now, 6 free spins may sound low for the high variance option, but with the opportunity to land walking wild multipliers with subsequent respins, the bonus round can go on for quite a while still. Moreover, it's also relatively retrigger happy, giving you a chance to land up to three retriggers and up to 33 extra spins in total.
Riders of the Storm (Thunderkick): Verdict
Thunderkick has struck a winner with Riders of the Storm we have to say. The grand atmosphere of the game is enhanced by an ethereal score as well as superb visuals, which makes for quite an original audiovisual experience. It may not be the most innovative of games, and it does rely on mostly recycled features (albeit enhanced to some extent), but regardless of that, it's sufficiently captivating and thrilling to play.
A word of warning. The bonus frequency appears to be relatively low, so prepare for some long spells with no bonus in sight. It doesn't ever get boring, however, as you have the randomly triggered Mystery Wild Reels feature to keep your session super-charged. If you do trigger the bonus, things can get all the more electrifying as there is a chance to pocket up to 26,426 times your stake. However unlikely that may be, we did hit over 1000x in our first try (the 6 free spins option) which of course added to the overall positive experience.
Riders of the Storm is a jewel that should give Thunderkick plenty of wind in their sails.