Western Gold: Overview
Editor’s note: This review evaluates Western Gold based on its early access state. We plan on reviewing Western Gold again once it gets a full release.
When you think of Just For The Win, the words 'highly volatile' and 'huge potential' don't automatically spring to mind. Good looking games sure, but quite often the math model and gameplay leave a little to be desired, for harder-edged gamblers at least. The studio attempts to adjust that perception in their slot Western Gold which happens to possess both of those qualities, providing massive wins for lucky players in a very volatile gaming environment.
Western Gold still manages to be a good looking game, well the background image is. The reels have the same grainy look as those found in Aurora Beast Hunter, on mobiles at least. The 5-reel, 40-payline game area is located in a canyon at the end or break of day, flanked by towering walls of rock . The image has a quality to it, like one of Edgar Payne's Old West landscape paintings.
If there is one thing the Western theme provides the opportunity for, it's developing a great soundtrack. Again, Just For The Win comes up with the goods by recording a real nice Bon Jovi style steel string number that gets you in the mood before you've even hit the play button.
Powered by Microgaming and offering stakes of 10 p/c to £/€25 per spin, Western Gold uses a math model with a generous hit rate of 38.98%, which means there are plenty of wins along the way to keep you going. Most players will be cool with the 96.12% RTP rating, though a volatility rated 'very high' might not be to everyone's taste. This is no gentle plod through majestic canyons admiring the scenery.
As to symbols, they are a mix of common Western images and classic slot icons. From low to high are whips, boots, hats, pistols, Bars, Double Bars, Triple Bars, and Lucky 7s. As far as values go, Lucky Sevens are best at 30 times the stake for five of a kind. Landing in any position is the golden 'W' wild. It has the same value as the Lucky 7s, and it can substitute for anything except free spins symbols or scatters.
Western Gold: Features
Collecting horseshoe scatters is the name of the game as doing so can lead you to a stack of loot. There are two places to do so - in the base game and in free spins.
During the base game, landing 4 or more horseshoes on a single spin returns a prize. The more the merrier, so 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 horseshoes in view award an instant prize of 1x, 5x, 15x, 25x, 50x, 100x, 250x, 1,00x, or a whopping 10,000x the stake. Four or five of them is pretty common in the main game, but hitting big numbers, such as double-digit horseshoes, is tough without a little assistance.
Fortunately this is where the next feature comes in. The sheriff's badge symbol is the free spins symbol, landing on reels 2, 3 or 4 in the main game. When 3 are in view, the free spins feature is triggered.
This feature starts with 3 free spins on the clock. Each time a horseshoe scatter lands, it is collected, and spins are reset to three. The number of scatters collected has the same worth as they do in the main game. So again, collect 12 of them to trigger the 10,000x top prize.
Western Gold: Verdict
Just For The Win has definitely turned a corner in 2020, or attempting to at least? Sure, there have been misses, yet the studio has released several games recently with big numbers such as Immortal Glory, and Wolf Howl. Of course, numbers are just numbers and don't reveal the full picture. However, it kind of feels like a change is brewing at the studio. We're still to see the breakout hit that blasts Just For The Win's critics away, but is it only a matter of time?
Western Gold might not be the breakout, but it still has some enticing elements. Firstly, Just For The Win has designed an enjoyable game world to lose yourself in for a while. The strong Western vibe comes at you via the oil painting looks and a great soundtrack, imbuing an almost Manifest Destiny feel while chasing the big win. That's good too because chasing is Western Gold's one and only trick. For those who like massively volatile, straight forward gameplay, Western Gold is one of the better games to come off Just For The Win’s production line.
Decent non-horseshoe wins are possible via the premium symbols, yet you don't need us to tell you, Western Gold is all about collecting horseshoes - nothing else matters. In many ways, it plays out in a similar manner to Gameburger's 9 Masks of Fire which proved to be a fairly popular release. The difference with Western Gold is that it's a lot more volatile and if you go all the way the top prize is five times what 9 Masks Of Fire has to offer. The Western theme and music are more engaging too, though that's more of a personal matter.
So while Western Gold probably won't be the game that makes Just For The Win a household name, it's not bad either. It's done something which would have been nearly unthinkable a scant year ago, namely, raised intrigue at what the next Just For The Win slot might be.
Western Gold could be boiled down to an attractive one-trick wonder, but it’s a pretty nifty trick for players who like to chase big wins.