Shimmering Woods – Malta-based developer Play’n GO deliver yet another high variance monster video slot game.
As software houses go, Play’n GO is undoubtedly one of the busiest – barely a week goes by without a new release from this hard-working developer. That said, with almost 250 people working for the company nowadays it’s not surprising that they can push out more slots than pretty much any other top-tier developer.
Shimmering Woods is part of their “PayWays” series, which uses a range of interesting and innovative mechanics to boost the number of ways to win. Whilst many other developers seem content with just paying a license fee to Big Time Gaming for their MegaWays concept, Play’n GO has been experimenting with their own many-ways mechanics instead.
Overview of Shimmering Woods Slot Game
For Shimmering Woods, the pay ways feature works via an extra space above the main area where the reels are located. This additional box, positioned in the centre directly above the third reel, spins individually each time a new round begins. Once the reels come to a stop, the glyph which is shown in this additional position is selected as the splitting symbol for the current round and all the matching symbols located in the main play field will immediately divide into halves horizontally.
Without any splitting symbols, Shimmering Woods is a regular 243-ways slot, with all sets of three or more matching symbols from left to right awarding a win of some kind. If you were to hit a full screen of identical symbols, and somehow were lucky enough for that same symbol to also be chosen as the splitting symbol, you could theoretically increase this to 7,776 pay ways.
That sounds like a lot, and it is – but of course, it is some way off the supposed maximum of 117,649 pay ways offered by games utilizing the MegaWays system. In practice though, MegaWays “theoretical maximum” is exactly that – a technically possible but infinitely unlikely upper limit that nobody has ever seen, nor are they ever likely to. Somebody definitely will score 7,776 pay ways on Shimmering Woods at some point, but it appears some higher paying symbols are not stacked on every reel, so it’s only going to be a full screen of Aces, at best, which would make for just 622x your stake. This seems like a good time to discuss the symbols in full though so let’s get into that.
Symbols & Payouts
It’s hard to avoid feeling a little underwhelmed when looking at the pay table for Shimmering Woods for the first time. The top-paying symbol, which is the diamond or wild, returns just 3x your stake by default. That’s pretty terrible, even for a 243-ways slot, to be fair. Winning combinations do explode, however, and each time they do the value of your win is increased by 1x, as shown by the multiplier located in the top-right corner of the screen.
The game does give many dead spins though, unfortunately, and I found it tough to get the multiplier any higher than 4x during testing. It’s unclear if there is an upper limit or if it can keep on increasing indefinitely, but I’d guess that your luck will run out on most occasions long before you reach any sort of cap, if there is one.
The top win is stated as being 25,000x your stake though, which does make the game feel quite exciting in the beginning as I was keen to work out how such a massive hit could be achieved. The scatters have no payout attached to them either, like many other Play’n GO games, so I was quite dubious about this number after half an hour’s play.
Shimmering Woods Special Features
Eventually, though, I hit the bonus round for maybe the fifth or sixth time, and this time the Shimmer feature activated and two of the scatter symbols broke in two, which boosted my feature from 10 free spins to 16, with three splitting symbols instead of the usual one.
This is where I finally got a glimpse of the game’s potential – with the wild and two high-paying symbols all dividing into two on every spin, I had some monstrous wins during this bonus round. The value of the multiplier shone through here too, as even at just 3x or 4x, a five of a kind on a few hundred pay ways can be worth a really decent amount of money.
My free spins were completed with a total win of … I couldn’t believe it, over 8,000x my bet! I cursed myself for playing in demo mode and wanted to try this feature a few more times to get a better idea of what sort of range it normally returns. Alas, I wasn’t able to get the shimmer feature to activate again during another hour of testing.
Shimmering Woods: The Verdict
I still can’t quite shake my disbelief after hitting such an enormous win during demo play – and on my very first “enhanced” bonus round, too. The shimmer feature can even split all three scatter symbols rather than just two as I experienced, which awards a maximum of 19 free spins with four splitting symbols. I can definitely imagine some huge wins appearing on YouTube courtesy of this slot in the coming months.
Overall, my testing of Shimmering Woods was a definite rollercoaster of a time. My initial excitement faded away after a few hundred spins of unremarkable play and low-paying bonus rounds. Later, I found myself furiously hitting the spin button, hoping in vain to see the shimmer feature activate for a second time. Had I been playing for real money, this would have been one of my best wins, topped only by NetEnt’s Dead or Alive 2 slot game. I think that alone has to be enough to make this game worthy of a recommendation.