How did slot developers perform in the first month of 2021? We take a look at the best new online slots from January. All the slots below were awarded a score of 8 or above by our team of expert reviewers.
We didn’t see many good Microgaming slots in 2020, so it was a surprise to see the legendary studio produce the excellent Lucky Riches Hyperspins in the first month of 2021. This slot is designed in the classic style, with a simple 5×3 grid, and symbols represented by bars, bells, casino chips, dice, and lucky 7’s (the highest paying), while a cheesy tune plays in the background. There are only two features on offer – the first of which is the hyperspin respins, which players can activate on one reel after each spin. Each of these respins has a cost, and you are shown that before the respin. Three or more diamond scatters trigger the free spins, where multipliers and unlimited retriggers combine to produce 480x max payouts. Not the biggest, of course, but this is the kind of classic, low variance slot which will appeal to many.
Play n’ Go’s Perfect Gems slot gets a winter makeover in the shape of Frozen Gems. The new version comes with an icy design and a spine-tingling soundtrack, and the gemstone symbol set is carried over from the original. Above the top row sits a horizontal ice-covered reel containing bonus symbols. These thaw when 3 consecutive wins land on the same reel, and the relevant modifier is applied. These include x2 and x3 splitting wilds, which double or triple the symbols on each reel (increasing the paylines), and a wild, which turns all symbols on that reel to wilds. What’s more, this slot has a cascade mechanic after winning spins, with each successive cascade increasing a win multiplier by +1. Thanks to these features, the base game is full of intrigue and excitement, although it can get a little confusing. The bonus feature is a little more straightforward. Three scatters trigger the frozen free spins, which are unlimited in number, and come with incremental multipliers, giving a max payout of up to 10,000x.
Play n’ Go’s second great slot of January is this farmyard-themed slot, full of colour, domesticated animals, and some decent wins. The 5×4 grid is populated by a mix of cows, sheep, dogs, and roosters, with the farmer acting as the wild – and he pays out the highest, at 50x for 5 of a kind. There are two features involved – the first of them are piggy bank spins. Here, only piggy bank symbols may land, and these become sticky if they do so. They can combine into mega symbols, revealing a coin win at the end of the round. 500x is possible in this feature, which is definitely worth crowing about. There’s a free spins feature too, where a hammer symbol increases your chances of triggering more piggy bank spins, and adding a multiplier of 10x. Overall then, you get a max potential of 5000x on this slot. Not bad, but as the volatility is quite high, big win hunters might want to look elsewhere. For the rest of us, though, the charming countryside scenery makes Piggy Bank Farm a fun day out.
Fantasma shows its unique take on the Megaways mechanic with this Greek-themed slot. The design isn’t really anything special, although it’s nice to see the typical symbols of Greek mythology, such as wreaths, helmets, and Zeus himself. Where this slot really shines is in its features, and the base game comes with 3 of them to keep you occupied. The Shifting Maze Avalanche feature is the most interesting and is triggered by landing a winning symbol on the middle position of the leftmost reel. That then triggers avalanche respins, with the winning symbol forming a row of 3, repeated until no more wins are triggered. What is more, scatters are collected, with 3 of them enough to trigger the Labyrinth free spins. In this bonus feature, all wins trigger the Shifting Maze Avalanche, and an increasing win multiplier also comes into play. These two features combine to produce potential 25000x payouts. While Maze Escape Megaways might not be the prettiest Greek slot around, it surely is among the highest-paying.
Nolimit City had a great 2020, with engaging, well-designed slots like Punk Rocker capturing the imagination of the casino world. The studio looks as if it might enjoy a similar 2021, as straight out of the gate it has released San Quentin xWays. Named after the toughest prison in the US, San Quentin xWays is a jail-themed slot with incredible attention to detail in the design, a ton of features, and an incredible 150,000x max payout. A Latin rock soundtrack, with symbols including lighters, soap, toilet roll, handcuffs, and screwdrivers, as well as various badass-looking prisoners representing the premiums, give this slot a gritty, tough vibe. The split wild feature is the main attraction in the base game, as these split the symbols above and below them, doubling their number, and almost always leading to wins. Enhancer cells can open at random, revealing high pay symbols, spilt wilds, and xWay symbols. The bonus feature is represented by the lockdown spins, where that incredible 150,000x max payout comes into play. Needless to say, San Quentin xWays is very volatile, but the engaging theme and constant stream of features make it well worthwhile hanging on for the bonus game.
It was a promising start to 2021 for slots. Studios seem to be going all out to bring slot fans games with plenty of features, ingenious themes, and – in the case of San Quentin xWays – huge payout potential. Let’s hope February continues in the same way.