Most mystic type slots are set in forests – or even the Amazonian jungle. Ariana from MicroGaming is an exception. This beautifully produced game is set underwater. In the background you can see coral, teeming with fish, with the sun above the water on top of the reels. This is the only slot I know of which features a leafy sea dragon on the reels!
There is some unique game play. When you cover reel 1 with stacked symbols, other single symbols of the same kind expand to cover their reels. This creates the occasional multi-line win, seemingly from nowhere. You will also get a free spins game, where the wilds can expand. This is where the big win potential comes from.
Despite the unique reel-expanding game play, the setup is standard. There are 25 win-lines, which cross over a 5 reel, 3 row grid. Your only choice before you spin is how much to bet (the win-lines are fixed). The smallest spin is 25c, and the highest and is big enough for even the high rollers out there. Auto play is offered, either as a set number of spins or until you hit the free spins feature.
Due to the stacked reels (see below) the individual wins look small. Keep in mind that there are times you will be hitting 25 of these at once!
The slot logo is the highest paying regular symbol, and also the wild. This is worth $10 for every $1 bet for 5 of a kind. It will substitute for everything except the purple starfish (scatter) symbol. Ariana herself looks dramatic, with white hair, and is looking right at you from the reels. This symbol is worth 8x you bet for 5. The sea-dragon, treasure chest and rocks follow these to complete the higher paying symbols.
Playing card symbols make up the smaller wins. These are standard bold colours, and contrast with the stylish production of the rest of the game.
You will find symbols are stacked on reel 1. When you cover that reel with a single type of symbol, all other instances of that symbol elsewhere on the reels will expand. This will only happen if that would create wins. For example, if you hit stacked Ariana symbols and only see others of this kind on reels 4 and 5, they would not expand.
Starfish are not tied to the win-lines. These have prizes based on the total number in view. 5 of them gets you 100x your bet. More important than that, 3+ anywhere in view will trigger the 15 free spins bonus game.
The graphics around the reels changes to a night-time scene, and the music changes too. It sounded like a mystic guitar track with a hint of 80’s to me.
During the free spins, the expanding reels gets even better. As well as matching symbols expanding when you hit a stack on reel 1, the wilds also expand. These expand into fully wild reels, often creating multiple wins with your stacked regular symbols. The free spins can be extended (retriggered) with 3+ starfish during play.
Other than the playing card symbols, this is a beautifully produced slot. The scene around the reels keeps the blues and greens as if you were looking at the coral from underwater. Around the reels is an ornate silver boarder, which has a Celtic look and feel.
Symbols are very detailed. Ariana is the stand out. You can see 3 versions of this symbol. There is a single symbol (headshot), double where you see the top of her silver dress, and the fully stacked standing version. The sea-dragon also looks amazing, like a cross between a seahorse and patch of weeds.
While you spin there is relaxed mystical music, which switches up a gear during the free spins round. That bonus game sees a night time scene replace the day. You can see patterns on the seafloor of reflected moonlight.
There are a lot of positives for this slot – with the slick production being the number one reason to check it out. The expanding reels is a nice variation. This steps up a level during the free spins. Here wilds will expand at the same time as regular symbols. This gives you a realistic shot at triggering all 25-win lines at once for a bigger prize.