Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Slots and role-playing games are well on their way to becoming the peanut butter and jelly of mobile gaming. It’s not clear who first put them together (or PB&J for that matter), but now these seemingly disparate genres are paired up on a fairly frequent basis. “Slot Revolution” continues this mash-up trend but does it one better with its seamless merging of simple gameplay and pleasantly surprising depth, even if its social and monetization aspects aren’t always as enjoyable.
Decades after a civil war, the Empire of Bragh is in the state many fantasy empires find themselves in: overrun by monsters and magic. As the hero of this story, you’ve got the choice of setting things right as a male, female or tiger-person of some sort, and your class choices are warrior, wizard or ranger. The nice thing is that you aren’t limited by that second choice, because changing classes is as simple as tapping once to change your gear.
If the idea of armor and weapons is hard to fathom in a game that mostly requires you to spin slot reels, it makes more sense the first time you see the way combat works. Battles use three reels, with your character in the middle and two allies (we’ll come back to them) on either side. Every round is one spin of the reels, and your goal is to to use the buttons beneath each one to stop them on something good: a sword to damage one enemy, three swords to damage multiple foes, a potion bottle for healing or a shield to buff your defense. If a monster symbol comes up, the bad guys deal damage to you instead.
Since these are slots we’re talking about, lining up two or three like symbols next to each other greatly boosts the effect, good or bad. The classes of your character and allies directly impacts the mix of symbols on the reels, while gear improves the damage you do when you come up with a sword, the amount of hit points your team has, and so on. Once you see how it all works, it’s easy to appreciate the clever way the mechanics come together.
It’s also quite fun to play the battles, where the momentum can change with every spin of the reels. Victories in combat reward you with coins and loot, while losses end your current quest and make you restart from the beginning. A full party resurrection of sorts can be had by spending three Golden Keys, which are the game’s hard currency.
Quests also use a three-reel slot machine to advance through, but it’s a different one with its own symbols. Here you are given a distance to reach the end of each location and a limited number of spins to get there. Every spin moves you one unit closer, except when a boot falls on the center reel and makes you faster. Coins, loot and healing are also possibilities, as well as free spins that are exactly what they sound like. Monster symbols lead to a battle, and just like the combat reels, lining up two or more of any symbol makes your reward better or the monster fight tougher.
Reaching the end of each level gets you a boss battle against an especially tough creature. Run out of spins before you reach the boss and you fail the quest, which doesn’t sound so bad except that you can’t stop the reels on their own, leaving you completely at the mercy of fate. And while I realize better than most that this is exactly how real slot machines work (since my “day job” is in a casino), it seems a bit unfair here.
“Slot Revolution” has a gear fusion system to play around with between missions, though it isn’t explained in much detail. Weapons and armor can be upgraded by sacrificing unwanted items and paying some coins or evolved into better versions with the right crafting materials. The menu system for doing so is a bit clunky, but it’s worth some time to figure out.
Each piece of gear also has one of three elemental affinities which work in a rock-paper-scissors fashion to make them stronger against some monsters and weaker versus others. Here’s where your allies come in, because you are told before each quest which types of enemies you will encounter, and properly equipped helpers are important. Unfortunately, unless you know other people playing the game, you’re stuck with randomly selected allies, and while you can hit a button to get new random teammates, their quality varies wildly.
Golden Keys also become a bit depressing since they’re needed for so many purposes, including on-the-fly healing and resurrections. But the real problem is that you need five to open premium chests containing the best loot. This gives “Slot Revolution” a small but definite pay-to-win element that it doesn’t necessarily need.
On the positive side, Kung Fu Factory did a nice job with the graphics in a game that doesn’t rely on them. The quest reels have a small, pseudo-3D window above them that makes it feel like you are really stepping through dungeons as you spin, and while the character models are nothing special, the variety and detail in the monsters is a highlight.
And that helps the good outweigh the not so good on the whole. Even with others trying the slots-RPG combo before, you can’t just mash two genres together, call it quits and have a fun game on your hands. More thought has been put into “Slot Revolution” than in similar titles that blazed the same trail, and it’s certainly worthy of a free download to see why that’s the case.
+ Canny merging of slots and RPG elements means it’s simple to play but has depth to explore
+ Nice graphics and an actual story in a game that could have been done without either
– Need for allies means playing without friends is much harder
– Slight pay-to-win element to the gear hunt