Rise of Maya (NetEnt): Overview
Mayans and Aztecs were completely different civilisations so hopefully we don’t offend anyone if we lump the two themes together for the sake of a review. Yes, they were different, but they did live side by side in the same part of the world and share many similarities. Some of these included lifestyles, varieties of gods and the building of pyramids to honour them. They also provide fertile ground for slot themes with their exotic imagery and fantastic architecture. So yes, they are different, but slots fans of one will be able to appreciate the other. Not just that, but with the fecundity of South American flavoured slots, this year has been a standout. Despite the stiff competition, titans of the industry NetEnt have hacked their way into the South American jungle with their new slot Rise of Maya.
You expect this, but it is still good to say that NetEnt has crafted an attractive looking game. Bright, rich symbols fill the screen and the game bursts with colour. Partly what gives it a South American flourish is the heavy use of serpents which the Mayans symbolised as vehicles for traveling the cosmos. Symbols sit in 3 rows on 5 transparent reels, set in a dark smoky temple adorned with burning fire pits, and big toothy carvings. NetEnt has kept some elements simple such as the 10 fixed paylines, but there are plenty of features which add extra layers of sophistication.
Available across all devices, wannabe explorers can control bet levels from 10 p/c up to a maximum of £/€150 per spin. Meanwhile, the volatility is somewhere in the medium/high range whilst the RTP ranges from 96.12% at the base level, which can be increased to 96.42% when the Bonus Bet: Second Chance Scatter Feature is engaged. More on this shortly.
Symbols are pretty much all in theme. This includes the low pay 10 - A royals which are crafted in suitably Mayan flavoured stone designs. The five high pay symbols are all Mayan ceremonial masks of various colours and gruesome design. The flamboyant deer skull looking one is worth the most at 250 times the stake for five of a kind. When it comes to winning combinations, low pay symbols require three on a payline, while the high pay symbols just two. The returns might not be much for two of a kind, but it does provide a higher number of wins. The overall hit rate with Rise of Maya is around 1 in 4, which means fairly frequent wins, and there are plenty of features on hand to heat up the action.
Rise of Maya (NetEnt): Features
There's a lot of focus on the wilds in Rise of Maya, but it comes bundled with other features as well to keep you entertained. During the base game or free spins, the Scatter Nudge feature can be randomly activated. It only shows up in a no-win situation where it nudges wild or scatters symbols onto the reels.
Why have one wild when you can have 4 wilds? Players get a single wild symbol, 2 expanding Serpent Wilds, and Serpent Stacks. All substitute for any of the base pay symbols. As well as this, the 2 expanding Serpent Wilds expand up or down which may or may not cover a whole reel. The Serpent Stack Wild only shows up during Free Spin on hot reels and will always cover an entire reel.
Free Spins are triggered when 3 or more scatter or wild symbols land in any combination anywhere in view. This process awards 15 free spins, and the reels that hosted the scatters or wilds that triggered the feature become Hot Reels. These hot reels allow for full reel Serpent Stack wilds to land and do their thing. Moreover, extra free spins can be won during the feature to give you up to 24 in total.
The last feature is the Bonus Bet: Second Chance Scatter & Second Chance Scatter Respin – say that one five times fast. For this feature to come into play, players must activate it during the main game. It doubles the stake and provides greater chances of landing extra scatters and wilds to trigger the Free Spins bonus round and those hot reels. It gets its name from the fact that when 2 scatters or wilds appear in view, the remaining reels that do not possess a scatter or wild are re-spun. This provides a valuable second chance to launch free spins and unlock the games full potential.
Rise of Maya (NetEnt): Verdict
Rise of Maya is a respectable offering from NetEnt. It is neither their finest work, nor their best looking game but it is still above average in the wider slot world. What makes it work is the deft handling of the theme without going overboard, while incorporating it well with a wide range of features.
Like most slots, the free spins are where the game hits its stride and provides the pinnacle of thrills and payouts, but there is still a fair amount left over for the main game. This is partly because you only need two high pay symbols to win a few coins which keeps the game ticking along. As does the Scatter Nudge feature which randomly shows up to help create some tense moments. High pay symbols also contribute by offering substantial rewards in their own right, and while five of the top paying symbol might be a rare occurrence, it can be a session-changer.
As far as these South American/Mayan/Aztec slots go, Rise of Maya holds its own when it comes to entertainment and potential. Get those famously whimsical gods on your side and you are looking at up to a max win potential of over 6,000 times the stake which is quite decent. Rise of Maya is far from groundbreaking, but it's an attractive and fairy simple game with a decent set of features and gameplay that should keep most fans of NetEnt entertained for a while, at least.
Rise of Maya is an all-around entertaining slot with a clever interplay of features and satisfying potential.