Ariana is one of those games that you seem to play because they offer you mermaids and mostly pretty graphics, but which most people would call average just by looking at it. The theme in question, related to the ocean, its treasures and a mermaid going by the name of Ariana, translates into a pretty enough game as long as you ignore the stock poker cards which Microgaming seems to use in the majority of the slots they put out. Ariana’s 5 reels hold 25 lines for you, to spin as you please. The slot relies heavily on expanding symbols, both during regular and free spins. You will also encounter along the way the wild symbols, the scatters and the free spins that you expect to get from most slots these days. You can win a top prize of $12,500.
There will be no option inside to change how many lines are active, that number will be fixed at 25 in each case. You do get the chance to decide how many coins each of them gets though, as well as the value of the coins. You have up to 10 coins per line, at a maximum size of $0.50, so the highest line bet reaches $5. The total bet can’t go past $125.
Ariana’s theme revolves around a mermaid that has this particular name, and it’s one of the most important symbols that we see on the reels. The background puts the action at the bottom of the ocean, showing us the life that exists there, from the small banks of fish to the weird plants that you’d never encounter on dry land. The reels are surrounded by a beautifully decorated border, which uses silver and pearls. The symbols which were chosen for this game include the image of Ariana, as well as logos, starfish, plants, coral and treasure chests. The unfortunate side of the paytable comes via the poker cards, as ugly as they always are in Microgaming slots which use them. This developer rarely makes the effort to change the design of the cards, to make them match the theme. The design quality is very good when you check out the high paying symbols, and even the feature triggers. The same can be said about the background image, but not about the low paying symbols. Overall, I felt like it was a decent effort from Microgaming, but in their usual note, nothing that can stand side to side with a game from Net Ent for example.
A major feature of Ariana would be the presence of expanding symbols on its reels. For the regular spins, you will notice that any symbol which appears fully stacked on reel 1, will expand regular high paying symbols of the same type on the other reels. They need to be in a winning combo in order to expand though, or they will remain in their usual size. The same feature can be used during the free spins to expand wilds as well, not just high paying symbols. The wild symbols are not going to be missing from the reels of Ariana. They’re present there, and they are useful as replacements for some symbols, or as ways for you to get high paying combinations formed. A combo of five wild symbols can offer the best payout that can be achieved through regular combinations. A wild Logo may not be used to replace a Starfish scatter. Starfish scatter symbols are useful in Ariana in the roles of the scatters, the symbols which you don’t care where they land on the reels, provided that you get at least two or three. With two or more you start getting prizes, while with at least three you trigger free spins. The prizes get up to 100x total bet. The feature with free spins brings you 15 of these rounds for free. During this feature, the Ariana Logo wild appears stacked on the first reel and can be expanded on the other reels, just like the high paying symbols. You can retrigger free spins, with another set of 3+ Starfish.
If you check out the scatter symbols, then they will pay as much as $12,500 for five symbols. Regular combinations can pay up to $1,250. What’s interesting here is that the system with stacked symbols on reel 1 that can expand other symbols on the rest of the reels can give you as many as 25 high paying combinations at the same time. The game has an average RTP of just 95% unfortunately, so despite its expanding symbols it doesn’t seem to be the kind of game to which you’d want to return time and time again.
Ocean themed games are not that rare, and Ariana doesn’t have either the RTP or the graphics to convince most players that it’s a great choice. The expanding symbols feature does sound nice, but it’s not enough.