Despite this game being almost three years old at the time of writing, I’ve never played (or even heard) of Dark Vortex before being tasked with writing this review. I was a little surprised by this – I’ve enjoyed many of Yggdrasil’s other slots immensely, so it’s always interesting to find a title that has somehow managed to slip under my radar.
Dark Vortex Overview
Without wanting to state the obvious, Dark Vortex both looks and sounds fantastic. Is there a Yggdrasil game out there that does not have exceptionally high production values? If there is, I have yet to find it.
Yggdrasil was one of the first companies to embrace the new web standards that have finally seen Flash banished for all eternity at the end of 2020. The company did not need to update their games to use HTML5, as many other developers did, so Dark Vortex has not been changed in any way since its initial release in October 2018.
Spinning the Reels for the First Time
After taking a few minutes to admire the visuals, particularly the translucent smoke eerily creeping its way along the bottom of the screen, it was time to get down to some hardcore slotting! Spotting the bonus buy feature, I was eager to dive straight into the free spins but figured it would be sensible to spend a little time checking out the paytable before doing anything else.
Don’t expect any boring symbols in Dark Vortex – there are no royals used here. The “picture” or high-paying symbols are represented by five different colored monsters, ranging from red to blue at 6x your stake per way to 3x per way, respectively.
The low-paying symbols are signified by a range of what look to be spellbooks straight out of Harry Potter’s worst nightmares. As you probably expect, given the payouts for the “high-paying” symbols, there isn’t much to see here. In typical Yggdrasil fashion, though, there’s another nice touch in that there are both five high-pay and five low-pay symbols. The color scheme for both sets is matched, making it easier to remember; the red book pays the most at 2x your stake per way, and the blue the least at just over 1x.
These payouts don’t sound like much, but with up to 3,125 ways during the free spins and pay both ways, it sure can add up. Dark Vortex has some more tricks up its sleeve, too.
Dark Vortex Special Features
I’d spotted the wild symbol on the paytable, so I was a little confused when I didn’t see it appear once during my first fifteen spins or so. Referring back to the paytable, it seems wilds only appear on “Vortex” reels and during free spins.
Vortex Spins Feature
What are Vortex Reels? A prominent circular symbol appears on each of the five feels, known as the Vortex symbol. You need to land two or more of these on adjacent reels to trigger the Vortex Spins feature. Two vortex symbols mean three Vortex Spins, with an additional two awarded for each extra adjacent vortex symbol.
All reels showing a vortex symbol will convert into vortex reels for the duration of your Vortex Spins. If you do land all five vortexes straight away, you’ll also trigger the free spins bonus immediately after your nine Vortex Spins have finished. Alternatively, the free spins can be triggered by collecting the remaining vortex symbols you need to achieve a complete total of five during the Vortex Spins.
Vortex Reels contain stacked high-paying symbols on all reels, with the addition of stacked wilds on the center three reels. Additionally, vortex reels also extend to five-high, adding additional ways to win.
While the Vortex Spins are in play, two additional symbols are added to the reels – the pink and blue orbs. These are used to enhance the free spins feature, but if you don’t manage to hit it on that particular set of Vortex Spins, don’t worry – they remain collected until you do.
Collect pink orbs on reels one and five to add extra stacked wilds to the center three reels and blue orbs to increase the number of free spins that you get to choose from at the start of the Free Spins Feature.
Dark Vortex Free Spins Feature
Only accessible from the Vortex Spins feature, your Free Spins Feature will begin AFTER all remaining Vortex spins have been played. All five reels extend to the full five-high configuration in the Free Spins, so this is where big money can be made!
One thing that drove me crazy was the time taken getting into the feature. You have to select a card to determine the number of stacked wilds, which begins by showing you five cards with possible values, then flipping them, then shuffling them, and finally allowing you to choose a card.
This whole process repeats for the number of free spins too. Then, the feature inexplicably begins by teasing you by showing all the wilds you have picked accumulated in the center of the screen, as in the screenshot below.
When I saw this appear, I thought I was in for a huge win – “this always happens when I’m testing slots!” – I said to myself.
It seems that this is just Yggdrasil reminding you what the number “five” on that card you just spent the last minute turning over means, as the reels will then spin again and show you your actual result. Now I don’t know if I’m just impatient concerning the whole card selection process, but this stacked wild tease honestly rubs me up the wrong way.
Especially if you’ve just picked three free spins with 3-high wild symbols instead of the 20 with 7-high stacks, I can imagine this will infuriate more people than just me! Luckily, I noticed you could at least click to skip the tease part on later entrances to the Free Spins – I suggest you do this every time.
Bonus Buy Feature
Diving straight into the free spins using the Bonus Buy feature won’t skip the card select process, and you’ll have no additional orbs gathered from the Vortex Spins, so the values on the cards are randomized instead. It costs 80x your stake to activate the feature and sticking to only buying bonuses rather than trying to hit them the traditional way increases the game’s RTP from 96.5% to 97%.
Dark Vortex – Our Verdict:
This game looks fantastic, but it isn’t Yggdrasil’s best. That’s not to say it’s terrible either, and it probably didn’t help that I failed to hit anything in the least bit remarkable in my hour or so of testing while writing this review.
I found it very difficult to hit the Free Spins the traditional way by collecting vortex symbols. With the extra slither of RTP from just diving straight into free spins using the Bonus Buy Feature, I’d probably stick to just using that if you will decide to give this one a try.
|Date Published:||24 October 2018|
|Theme:||Dark and Wretched|
|Special Features:||Bonus Buy, Collectable Symbols, Win Both Ways, Free Spins|
|Paylines||243 – 3,125 Ways|
|RTP (Bonus Buy Feature Only):||97% (Cost Per Feature 80x Stake)|
|Maximum Win:||73,180x Stake ( £/$/€ 3,659,000 at Max Bet)|