The eighties were a simpler time, and one that captured the hearts and minds of many. In the United States, they were characterised by a specific style of fashion, music and attitude, and they were the last periods of familiarity before the fall of the Soviet Union and the advancement of the internet over the next twenty years would forever reshape how the world lives and interacts with each other.
And despite how culturally defining this era is, it’s not so often explored anymore, which is a shame, because we love the vibe of the eighties. Fortunately for us, NetEnt decided to bring back the colourful suits and exotic hairstyles in their upcoming release, Hotline.
The slot offers gamblers a 5×3 playing field with 30 fixed paylines. The symbols are all unique, but are very much so focused on the story elements, as this NetEnt release follows a buddy-cop story who are trying to chase down an elusive, female thief who’s looking to make off with all the beautiful jewels you can find.
The icons reflect this, and so we have detectives, the thief, and various jewellery fit for a queen to wear used as symbols. It also has several special features, first of which being a Bonus Bet. The more cash you put down, the more Hotlines you have active.
There are three in total, and you can keep all three active at once – at the price of paying three times your regular wager. Hotlines are important, as all Wilds that land on an active one will expand and stay sticky for a re-spin. Wilds can also expand during free spins, and stay sticky for the entire duration.
Last year has gone over really well for NetEnt. They released a massive amount of titles, some which blew up to be instant classics, some which thread new ground, and others that were sadly, somewhat underwhelming.
Despite this, the company enters 2018 increasing their revenue by almost 12%, making partnerships to release their titles in multiple new regions, launching the innovative Finn and the Swirly Spin as well as Planet of the Apes, and for fans of the TV show Vikings, the company plans to release a game based around said show towards the end of 2018. Age doesn’t seem to be slowing the NetEnt juggernaut any, so we’re looking forward to seeing what they plan to cook up for us.
How to play it
When it comes to visuals, NetEnt rarely disappoints, and they certainly helped bring the vibe of eighties Miami into the backdrop, as it shows off the ever popular coastline that has seen itself recreated in many video games, movies and TV shows set in the era.
In the meanwhile, the reels are entirely focused on the characters, the jewellery, and the interactions between the two, with only the Scatter really standing out there. And while the styling of the characters is undoubtedly fitting for the era, we feel the jewellery might have been a somewhat cheap way out, as it just looks like it could belong anywhere.
On the gameplay side of things, it is balanced to be a more low-variance title. Despite the special features it offers, the highest win you can pull off rounds out at about 400x stake, which isn’t bad, but it might turn off people who enjoy the thrill of chasing bigger wins.
Bonus Bet is something new for NetEnt to include in their slots, however, as its effect not only expands Wilds if they land on an active Hotline, but it also makes Wilds more likely to appear, which can lead to more frequent wins. With, of course, the sacrifice of paying double or triple your wager, depending on how many Hotlines you want to be active at any given time.
The Hotline Bonus Bet is a rather simple affair. Before each spin, you can choose to have one active, picking between the three rows.
You can have more than one active, but that requires you to double your wager, and if you want all three up at once, you need to play for three times your bet. Hotlines make Wilds more likely to appear, make Wilds expand to cover an entire reel, and make them stick for a single re-spin, with additional re-spins being available if more Wilds appear on an active Hotline.
There’s not much innovation to the free spins mechanic, however. You need Scatters to appear on the first, third and fifth reel at the same time, which rewards seven free spins with no ability to retrigger the mechanic. You can’t win any re-spins for the duration of the bonus, but if any Wilds land, they will expand and stay sticky until the extra turns are over.
It’s become a habit of NetEnt’s to gate big wins behind special features, and there’s no exception here. Most of the time for us, chain re-spins or the lucky free spin brought us the highest win, though nothing close to the maximum possible 400x one.
It’s not without its flaws, but Hotline is an enjoyable game for those who like low volatility titles. The special features do a great job at making the slot feel interesting and the theme, visuals and music all fit together to make a great eighties vibe. We quite enjoyed our time with Hotline, and we hope you will, as well, when it releases on 22nd March.