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I must admit that the load-up screen of the Nordic Heroes slot is confusing.
In the bottom right corner there is a Viking warrior with a hammer and a shield, which makes perfect sense. However, above him and set against a verdant forest backdrop is a lady armed with a bow and arrow who looks more like an Amazon warrior than someone you would associate with the Scandinavian wastes.
Still, Thora, as she is named, plays a key role in this exciting Level Up slot from IGT, so let’s take a closer look at how it plays.
Overview: Nordic Heroes
Nordic Heroes boasts a couple different characters, but you start the game as Thora. The aim is to increase the skills of your character by defeating monsters in the Battle Bonus section. Once you reach Level Three with Thora, then Ragnar (a better-rated character) becomes playable too.
The game comes packed to the brim with features, including seven levels and four achievements available for your chosen character. Each of these can lead to bigger rewards within the slot. In addition, players can trigger several other bonus features, including multipliers and the exciting Battle Bonus feature.
Who will the Nordic Heroes slot appeal to?
IGT really emphasizes the leveling-up aspect of its characters. This means that if you like slot games with a goal, rather than simply spinning the reels, then Nordic Heroes will certainly appeal to you.
It will also be immediately appealing to players who enjoy multiple and different features. Furthermore, playable from $0.30 per spin up to a maximum of $600 per spin, the slot will appeal across the board from smaller stakes players to high rollers.
Gameplay: Nordic Heroes
It is certainly true that large parts of Scandinavia are forested, which is the backdrop to the slot. However, forests ripe with fruit, flowers, and the gentle sound of birdsong cascading through the trees don’t seem quite right.
As such, I felt that the setting was off. Most people would expect a snowy backdrop, wintry wasteland, sea, fire, and ice — all hallmarks of Viking stories.
That said, the setting is perhaps less important than how a slot actually plays, so putting my grievance to one side for the moment, how does the Nordic Heroes slot fare when it comes to spinning the reels?
It is a 5×3 reel slot with 30 paylines in operation on every spin. You can adjust the size of your bet within a large range, which means players of all bankroll sizes can enjoy.
When it comes to the symbols on the reels, it is an odd mix of choices once again. There’s significant flora and fauna, berries, and a purple mushroom, mixed with a tree set against a setting sun. There are also Viking coins (which oddly are the lowest paying symbols), a bird of prey, what looks like a mountain (but what I suspect is the tip of an arrow), and Thora herself.
When you unlock Ragnar, those laster three symbols listed above change to a wolf, a hammer, and Ragnar. The symbols are again a somewhat odd choice. While Thora is meant to be an elf, that doesn’t really fit in with the Nordic theme. The wild symbol, the highest paying in the base game, offers a 1,500-coin jackpot if landed five on a payline.
However, it is the additional elements that make the Nordic Heroes slot such fun to play. The ability to level-up players and earn bigger rewards by completing Battle Bonus rounds successfully is a nice touch. Victory Free Spins, which is triggered by landing the Battle Bonus scatter on Reels One, Three, and Five, can also be lucrative.
During the Battle Bonus, your character will battle a fearsome monster by spinning the special Battle Reels after every free spin. These reels can perform one of three things: damage your opponent, protect against damage from your opponent, or stun your opponent. You keep spinning until your character defeats three monsters or is defeated.
If you can defeat three monsters, depending on how quickly and your level, you can earn one, two, five, or 10 Victory Spins as a bonus.
In addition, on standard base game wins, the Mystery Multiplier Reel can be triggered on any spin and will pay out up to 20x, 25x, or 30x the standard win, depending on the level you have reached with your character.
Special features: Nordic Heroes
Battle Bonus round
Mystery Multiplier Reel
On any spin that doesn’t trigger a bonus feature but results in a cash win, the Mystery Multiplier Reel can trigger and increase the value of that win from 1x to up to 30x the stated win.
One of the nice touches is that your character, whether it is Thora or Ragnar, can increase her or his skill levels throughout the game. That way, you can access additional game modes and win bigger cash prizes for you. Your progress with each character is saved after you play.
The Battle Bonus is without a doubt the key feature of the slot. Not only does it allow you to increase your character level (up to Level Eight) by defeating monsters, but you can earn free spins and a chance at some bigger wins.
The Mystery Multiplier Bonus is a nice touch in an otherwise repetitive base game. The fact that you can increase your minimum win by up to 30x the stated amount gives the base game added appeal. Plus, the bonus seems to pay out generously.
The slot gives the user a specific aim beyond spinning the reels to win cash. Increasing the level of your character to unlock bigger and better features and prizes gives the slot an added edge.
Muddled theme and setting
Although I can appreciate the setting is true to the geographic location, the elves and summery woodland backdrop betray the Viking theme. I would say the slot has its inspiration muddled.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the fact that the jackpot in the base game is 1,000 coins for landing the five wilds across the reels.
To get the best from this game, you will need to play time and time again to advance your character beyond the initial levels and unlock additional features. While this can be fun, it can also be expensive if you hit a run of poorly paying spins.
Graphics and soundtrack: 3/5
The graphics and soundtrack look and sound absolutely fine. I am just not sure they are indicative of Norse mythology tropes. We’re missing mountains, snow, fire, and Viking longboats.
Originality and creativity: 5/5
I have given Nordic Heroes a rare top mark for originality and creativity. This game has the Battle Bonus feature, Victory Free Spins, and the way they all interlink with the levels of your character.
Play value: 2/5
This is arguably the biggest downfall of Nordic Heroes. It is very much a medium variance game, and at times can play very tight and eat a big chunk out of any bankroll. On the flip side, you can have very profitable sessions too, although these are less frequent.
Jackpot potential: 1/5
A jackpot of 1,000 coins in the base game isn’t great, even if you can hit multiple winning paylines. This isn’t a jackpot that will attract hunters.
Repeat play: 5/5
There is certainly enough in this slot to keep you coming back for more. The fact that you can save your progress and play a new session will certainly encourage people to come back.
Total score: 16/25
It may have its setting and theme a bit muddled, but the actual mechanics of Nordic Heroes are excellent, innovative, highly playable, and, above all, enjoyable. The only downside is that it can be a tough slot to love given how hard it fights you to hold on to its money. However, catch it on a good day and you’ll be playing this slot for many weeks to come.