The Haunted Circus

Slot Review (Hacksaw Gaming)

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The Haunted Circus: Overview

Malta based developer Hacksaw Gaming rolls out another slot to diversify their portfolio of games. The company that started out creating online scratch cards made a pleasing leap into the slots arena with the charming debut Stick ‘Em. Since then, Hacksaw has really gone large, developing some of the largest fixed jackpots on the market to date. Moreover, their last release, Cubes, turned out to be something of a hit for the studio.

Following in this tradition comes The Haunted Circus where its selling proposition is sure to be the huge fixed jackpot. While it might not being the largest, it is still impressive and sure to attract plenty of hopeful punters. So, does the rest of the game measure up, or fade away in comparison?

Viewed on a desktop, or mobile on landscape mode, the 5-reel, 4-row grid is seen as if viewed through a mysterious keyhole. That, or you’re getting tunnel vision as you’re slowly blacking out. The perimeter of the screen is blanked out and what you can see looks like an old Victorian-era circus. The kind where strongmen in leopard print tights sporting massive twirly moustaches lift weights over their heads on the tip of a finger.

At first, it is a little difficult to detect much haunting. The Haunted Circus isn’t a slot that makes you jump; the creep is more subtle. Actually, there isn’t much spooky stuff going on during the base game at all aside from the eerie music, and symbols which animate into things like eyeballs. The spookiness picks up a bit during the bonus game when the game shifts into another gear. Overall though, the presentation value is high, a little simple initially perhaps, but the combination of unusual theme and fantastic audio does grow on you.

For a game boasting some impressive figures, let’s take a look at the more regular stats. Because this is a jackpot slot, brace yourself for an RTP clocking in at 94.83%. It’s low, but not outrageously so, given the top prize on offer. Volatility, meanwhile, is in the medium/high range, Hacksaw themselves rating it 4 out of 5, along with a surprisingly high hit frequency of 36.35%.

Getting started in this sinister soiree is done by setting bets that range from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. The base game rules see players lining up winning combinations from left to right, starting at the first reel. Any row is fine, providing 1,024 ways to win.

The symbols we get to play with are a curious mix of 10-A royals done in a circus/Wild West font that undergo neat transformations when part of winning combination. Four premiums follow, populated by a bearded lady, a green clown, a snake-charming lady, all topped off by a strongman. Values are a little unorthodox since all low pays are worth the same, as are all of the high pays (0.5x – 2.5x).

Symbol values are low partly due to the way the wild works. Whenever a wild is used as part of a winning way, it changes into a multiplier of x2, x3, x4, or x5. More than one multiplier can be active in a win too. When this happens, the values are multiplied together instead of added, up to a maximum of 625x. Now let’s see what other features are lurking behind the curtain.

The Haunted Circus: Features

the haunted circus
The bonus game in action

The circus might be a laugh, but it’s what happens beyond its borders is the main attraction. Land 3 or more bonus scatter symbols to be taken outside to some gnarly treed environment where you’ll find the bonus wheel.

The bonus wheel is made up of 3 tiers offering prizes of increasing value. The tiers award free spins, a cash win multiplier, or an arrow. Land on an arrow and you progress to the next tier. If you hit 3 arrows in a row, then congrats, you have just won the €2.5 million jackpot prize. Triggering the bonus game in the first place carries odds of 1 in 93.

If you hit a multiplier, a fixed win is paid, then play moves back to the main game. Hit free spins though, and you return to the reels in free spin mode. Free spin mode adds more wild multipliers and an extra scatter symbol. Land 3 scatter symbols to win 5 more free spins, which can be retriggered up to 10 times. The odds of triggering free spins in the bonus wheel is around 1 in 247.

The Haunted Circus: Verdict

Well, it’s a long way from scratch cards to producing the largest fixed payouts in the business. The €2.5 million fixed jackpot might not be the very largest, but it’s enough to make you question going into work the next day if you won. That fact on its own is bound to be reason enough for keen jackpot hunters to pull back the tent flap to give The Haunted Circus an optimistic whirl.

If your only concern is hitting the jackpot then it might not matter too much what else is going on in the game. That is probably a good thing because the rest of the experience isn’t an overly enthralling one. The base game ticks along with its two win values, and the multiplying wilds are nice, but it’s not super exciting gaming nor very innovative. In fact, The Haunted Circus is probably the most conventional and least quirky game we've seen from Hacksaw Gaming to date.

On a more positive note, wins of up to 10,000 times the stake are possible which we have to say is outstanding for a relatively small developer. The Haunted Circus is a real or nothing experience. You either smash it out of the park or have a pretty low key time. In saying that, the potential is pretty stellar and the execution is very strong, so for those only concerned with chasing after dream money, it’s as good an option as any other major jackpot slot.


The Haunted Circus is a step away from Hacksaw Gaming’s otherwise unique style, and as such, not quite as intriguing.

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