John Hunter and the Mayan Gods: Slot Overview
Hold on to your antiquities people, Pragmatic Play’s ‘man with the hat’ is back, this time taking on the steaming jungles of Central America yet again. Moreover, he’s immersed himself in one of the more popular ancient cultures of the slots world, the Mayans. Despite the title, there aren’t a lot of actual gods in the game, though it is a catchy one. It also means John hasn’t had to travel far from a previous adventure which centred on the Mayan’s neighbours in John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure. Where that slot went kind of large, Pragmatic Play has reeled it back for Mayan Gods. Here the gameplay is a lot simpler, the features less in number, and potential has taken a significant whack.
In keeping with the previous game, John Hunter and the Book of Tut, Mayan Gods is played utilizing a 5-reel, 3-row set up, along with 10 paylines to land winners on. Pragmatic hasn’t exactly gone to town with the theme where a sliver of ruins and jungle scenery peeks out from behind the grid. It is bright, and the Indiana Jones 1930s matinee soundtrack adds excitement, but on the whole it feels a bit rushed.
Five lightning bolts on the splash screen indicate John Hunter and the Mayan Gods is a highly volatile adventure. No doubts about that stat arose during testing either, where the game teased and rewarded in equal measure. Default RTP is solid, as it usually is from Pragmatic Play, with Mayan Gods producing the agreeable figure of 96.46%.
Individual line wins provide good value across the board too. Even the low pay J-A royals, stylishly patterned in a tribal design offer wins of 10 times the bet for five of a kind. Each one possesses the same value. It gets better amongst the premiums which are made up of cups, knives, rings, a Quetzalcoatl symbol, a plumed king, and of course our man John Hunter. Land a premium five of a kind win to collect a payout of 20 to 50 times the bet.
John Hunter and the Mayan Gods: Slot Features
Helping John get the most out of the Mayan gods is a full reel expanding wild and free spins that use a symbol upgrade feature. Keep an eye out for the bright gold statue icon which is the wild. It substitutes for all symbols except the scatter when it lands and appears only on reels 2, 3, or 4. Whenever a wild symbol hits and is part of a winning combo, it expands vertically to cover the full height of the reel.
To unlock the true potential, players will need to trigger the free spins – this is achieved by landing 3 or more step pyramid scatter symbols anywhere on the reels. As well as winning 12 free spins, players pick up a payout of 2x, 20x, or 50x the bet when 3, 4, or 5 scatters are in view. The free spins feature uses a six-level upgrade system, always starting on level 1. When a wild symbol hits, it adds a free spin plus moves the level up by one. If two wilds land at the same time, 3 free spins are added, and the level increases by 2. If three wilds land, they add 5 free spins while increasing the level by 3. Every time you level up, the lowest valued premium symbol is upgraded to the next premium in the hierarchy, so for example when you land your first wild, all cups become knives, and once you level up again, all knives become rings and so on.
This effect lasts until the end of the round, so if you make it to level 6, the only symbols on the reels are low pays or John Hunters. Lastly, hitting 3 or more scatters during the feature adds 12 more free spins, no limits.
John Hunter and the Mayan Gods: Slot Verdict
After getting all experimental in Aztec Treasure, Pragmatic Play returned to classic gaming in Scarab Queen, then Book of Tut. Mayan Gods is another slot in the John Hunter range that finds inspiration from others. This time we get a Eye of Horus inspired symbol upgrade mechanic during free spins (as noted by hawk-eyed user “SixtyHertz” in the comment section). A lot of developers borrow ideas every so often, no news story, yet three in a row makes John Hunter look like he’s getting lazy. It isn’t to say John Hunter and the Mayan Gods doesn’t have enjoyable moments, but the Indiana Jones wannabe isn’t making the most of his talents, relying a little too heavily on his chiselled looks to carry the game.
There is no doubt Mayan Gods is highly volatile after what took place during testing. It took a while for the first bonus game to trigger, but after cracking the seal, they appeared relatively thick and fast. However, triggering the bonus didn’t guarantee anything, nor did reaching the final level. Many rounds frustratingly ended up producing wins worth less than 10x the bet, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun. The feature occasionally turned it on though; the key was upgrading symbols as early as possible. Not only does this add a bunch of extra free spins, it also gets you closer to the ultimate goal of filling the screen with John Hunters. Interestingly, for a such a highly volatile game, max win potential of over 2,500x the bet isn’t hugely exciting, and one which feels strangely realistic for a Pragmatic Play slot.
While the action might not be too nail-biting a lot of the time, Mayan Gods still manages to get somewhat interesting during the bonus game. At this point though, it feels like a healthy dose of originality would inject some life into a series that appears to be fading away rather than burning out.