Workaholic Swedes Play’n GO’s Charlie Chance in Hell to Pay takes an unexpected turn. The game takes place in a mysterious underworld, as suggested by the title. Those with a low tolerance for discomfort should not worry. The developer opted for a lighthearted cartoon style to carry the slot, giving it a more comedic feel than a scary one. This is a more traditional slot machine game, with three reels and five paylines and lots of familiar symbols to spin.
Play’n GO has largely modeled their game on the works of Charlie Chan, a fictitious investigator who has appeared in numerous books, TV shows, and movies. It’s OK if you haven’t heard of this detective; his works were first published in the 1920s. It’s unclear why Play’n GO is resurrecting the character or time period, although they were evidently popular back then. It’s a smart move, though, because the game’s hellish setting gives it a distinctive visual style.
Charlie Chance, made by Play’n GO, is a throwback to classic animation. They’re incredibly old, from before they learned how to colorize them. Contrary to first impressions, the mix of black, white, and grey in the background actually makes for a rather warm and welcoming atmosphere. The visual style is reminiscent of the Disney short “Creaky Bones,” in which skeletons play xylophones off of one another. A horned Betty Boop-like figure carrying a trident floats to the right of Charlie, who stands to the left looking frightened.
The 3×3 gaming grid with 5 fixed paylines is the focal point of the scenario. Its bold, vivid symbols stand out nicely against the otherwise colorless background. Symbolically, it’s mostly fruit, with some fire and shackles for good measure. Cherries, lemons, an apple slice, and grapes all fall under the low-paying fruit category. Pays well to have a BAR, triple sixes, or hell’s bells. You can only win between 0.4x and 4x your bet with three of a kind combos.
A penny for the boatman on the other side of the River Styx is a roundabout way of saying, “Pick your bets wisely.” High rollers can spend up to $100 or €100 per spin, while low rollers can get in on the action for as little as $10. Surprisingly, given the milieu, the game’s volatility rating is only 6/10, making for a somewhat less tense ride perhaps, but still packing, as we shall see, a good potential. Meanwhile, the RTP can change based on the market conditions, so it’s important to read the fine print before getting started. The optimal rating is 96.23% RTP, which is also the maximum possible. Obviously, it’s best to double-check.
A Chance for Charlie in Hades, with All the Fixin’s
In Charlie Chance, three distinct types of wilds play significant roles. The first is a generic wild symbol that can be used in place of any of the regular pay symbols. Any win that includes a wild can have an additional x2 or x3 multiplier added to it. It’s helpful that values from more than one multiplier on screen are added together. Multiplying by 3, 3, and 3 yields a multiplier of x27, rather than the expected x9.
The next symbol is the scatter, the woman with blazing horns, which can appear anywhere. When you get three within sight, you’ll activate the Feature Board and have a shot at winning plenty of cool stuff.
Instantaneous monetary reward.
The reels will respin with a random number of wilds added.
An additional spin with a multiplier of 2, 3, or 25 applied at random.
A spin that is certain to result in a payout.
Acquire a bonus set of free turns.
Eight spins are given as a starting point for the free games bonus. Each time you collect three scatters in this round, you’ll have another chance at the Feature Board. The same respin, cash, wild, multiplier, win spin, or additional free spin options are available from the Feature Board as before.
The Verdict: Charlie Must Pay the Price in Hades
Although it follows a classic design, Charlie Chance in Hell to Pay feels very modern. The strange location and the completely unpredictable people populating it are what make it so. Even if you have to get fried in the underworld, at least you get to go somewhere new. In fact, the farther you delve into the game’s mechanics, the more bizarre they appear to be. Charlie, it would appear, is suffering the consequences of his actions with the horned lady. What could it have been?
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that we will ever learn the answer to this question. Play’n GO did a great job of making this slot enjoyable for fans of traditional fruit machine gameplay. The game is fast and easy to play, but the variety of prizes on the Feature Board adds a layer of complexity.
Wild multipliers can be just as exciting, with a potential win multiplier of x27 if three occur. Surprisingly, the maximum win possibility is up to 6,666 times the stake, which is more than you would expect from a Play’n GO slot.
However, it seems extremely unlikely that anyone could even approach that figure. During our playtests, we were unable to achieve even half of that score. If you want to win anything substantial, you’ll need a respin with the 25x multiplier and a lot of wilds or high payouts. Overall, though, payments were underwhelming, and the underlying math approach was harsh. Overall, Charlie Chance is a delightful product with a novel notion, albeit one that is a tad too constrained for our tastes.