Play Hellcatraz on
Released on 5th May 2020, Hellcatraz is Relax Gaming’s 8-bit take on the impenetrable Alcatraz Federal Prison which operated from 1934-1963 on the island of the same name in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz itself was famed for being impossible to escape from. Hellcatraz does an equally good job of making it almost impossible to escape with your bankroll still intact. However, those who do might just find themselves with enough cash to purchase the island and build their own castle.
Hellcatraz is a hellishly volatile game played on a 6x6 grid with 46,656 ways to pay and cascading symbols. All identical symbols pay, as long as at least one appears on each of the first three columns. Pay ways run from the leftmost to the rightmost column. As you’ll have come to expect from cascading symbol slots, a winning cascade removes the winning symbols which are replaced by fresh ones from above. This in turn creates opportunities for new wins and new cascades without the need for a new spin. A new spin begins once winning cascades come to an end.
Not overburdened with features, Hellcatraz comes with a mystery symbol in both the base and bonus game, and a Super Free Spins round in which the mystery symbol feature is enhanced (more on this later). The Super Free Spins round, naturally, is where the chances of a big win are highest. As well as playing to trigger Super Free Spins from the base game, there is also a buy a bonus option in obliging jurisdictions.
Interestingly, Hellcatraz can be played in two modes (Mixed and Lockdown), which you can change at any time depending on how high you like your volatility. With an RTP of 96.46% (up to 96.88% if you buy the bonus) and wins of up to 51,840x up for grabs – this is a slot with huge potential returns.
You can play Hellcatraz from 20th May from €0.10 to €0.20 a spin.
Community Big Wins
Design & Symbols
Hellcatraz is designed to look like any number of 8-bit arcade games from the mid-late 80’s. It is certainly a fun approach to online slot design although not entirely original; some credit must surely go to Thunderkick, who had the idea first for their 2017 release Roasty McFly and the Flame Busters.
The gameboard is the Hellcatraz itself, with the 6x6 grid framed by the thick brick wall. The Hellcatraz gameboard takes up the entire island, and the base is surrounded by rocks leading down to the waters of the bay below. A couple of pixelated seagulls populate the rocks, with shark fins, ominously circling in the bay. Police speed boats are moored either side of Hellcatraz, gently bobbing in the water, ready for action. In the distance a suspension bridge is visible as the sun sets in the west, with the San Francisco skyline littered with a few skyscrapers and 8-bit clouds. The scene changes to night in Lockdown Mode and during Super Free Spins. During free spins there is far more going on as (presumably) a jail break is in action. Police helicopters beam light onto the reels, startelled seagulls fly overhead, a building behind the jail is on fire, and red lights flash on the boats and up the prison walls. The soundtrack is typical of any late 80’s early 90’s arcade game – plenty of synthetic beeps and bleeps.
Low value symbols are diamonds, clubs, hearts, and (unusually) stars. Mid value symbols are handcuffs, guards badges, and sharks. High value symbols are an Al Capone-esque mobster and a prison guard. The prison guard is the most valuable, with 6 across adjacent columns paying 2x the bet size. The wild is a golden W. There are also Mystery Symbols which appear on every spin, each with a counter value. This game has no scatter.
- Mystery Reveal Feature
- Super Free Spins
- Buy Feature
Mystery Reveal Feature
Mystery symbols are present in every spin, with each assigned a counter value between 0-5. In Lockdown mode each symbol carries the same number. In Mixed Mode, mystery symbols are split between 2 counter values – although they might both be the same. The number of the counter value reduces by one with each cascade win. The counter reaching zero triggers the Mystery Reveal Feature and all affected mystery symbols reveal themselves as the same regular symbol. Lockdown Mode reveals tend to be more profitable than Mixed Mode reveals due to the nature of the counter values.
Super Free Spins
Collecting 2,000 keys activates 5 Super Free Spins. To the left of the gameboard is a Key Meter which fills each time a key is collected. Keys appear randomly at the top of regular symbols, each awarding between 1-10 keys.
Throughout Super Free Spins the Mystery Symbol counters are always at zero, meaning that the Mystery Reveal Feature is activated on each spin.
A Golden Mystery Symbol triggers additional spins if two cascades complete once it has appeared on the reels.
Changing stakes during a session does not reset the Key Meter. However, when triggered, the bonus round is played at an average bet of which the keys were collected.
For 200 times the bet size it is possible (jurisdiction depending) to buy straight into Super Free Spins. The Buy Feature Button is located at the base of the Key Meter. It is also possible to pay to top up the number of keys required to activate the bonus round at a pro-rata rate. For example, if you already have 1,000 keys playing at €1 a spin, then buying 1,000 keys costs 100x the bet size to trigger Super Free Spins.
Our Thoughts on Hellcatraz
There’s a lot to enjoy about Hellcatraz, but there is also plenty of which to be wary. The design should have a universal appeal. It should go down well both with those who remember the days of super-pixelated graphics and with the many retro fans out there. It also has a decent narrative and theme. On top of that it has the capacity to pay a huge return if you happen to catch this scary beast at the right time.
That being said, this must be one of the most volatile slots I’ve reviewed. Of course, it is very possible I hit variance at the wrong time, but I think it’s safe to say that bankroll management should be of utmost importance while playing this game. Without recourse to the Buy Feature option, triggering Free Spins with 2,000 keys is an unforgiving and lengthy grind. Furthermore, when you get there you only have 5 spins to play with. Of course, if you get a run of cascades this can last a while and pay a lot. However, to get there just for the 5 spins to pass in a flash with no wins to speak of can be frustrating (and expensive) to say the least. It’s good that you have the option to choose between the two game modes with differing volatilities, although both are high, one is just insanely high.
Hellcatraz has been named wisely; this is both a hell of a game, and a game which can be hell. Be careful when attempting to break-out because even though you might think you’re on your way to financial freedom you still have those shark infested waters to cross – and they will gobble up your bankroll in no time!