There are a ton of Asian-themed online slots out there, and at first look, Serenity seems like just another one added to the generic pile. Visually, it's a gorgeous game with a beautiful backdrop scene of mountains, trees and buildings with a lake and a bridge. Up front are a set of transparent reels so that the symbols are floating in front of you, and when you add in the soundtrack, the whole appeal of this game is in how relaxing it is. However, it's also fairly generic outside of the very attractive background and music, and it looks like it serves little purpose than to boost Microgaming's slot count.
Format of the Game
This is a 15-payline video slot. That's a somewhat atypical format that isn't used quite as much by Microgaming (read more), but it's cool that they've went a little outside of the norm for this title. Coins range from $0.01 to $1.00, and you can bet up to five coins on each of the 15 paylines. The maximum bet becomes $75 per spin when you max out each of these three figures, but you can also play for the super-low $0.15 per turn, so you won't have trouble finding a bet size that works for you.
We're going to use a base bet size of $1.50 per spin with $0.05 coin sizes and two coins per payline as the starting point for all of the payouts that we discuss here. If you have a different bet size, your winnings will be different along the same proportions.
The Free Spins Feature
The main bonus feature in this video slot (more here) is based on getting a set of free spins. Players are given 10 free turns when the golden scatter symbol hits the reels in a group of three or more, and they can be anywhere on the reels to trigger the feature. You'll get a multiplier of 3x to all of your wins for this feature, but it's important to note that three scatters earns the same number of free spins as four or five, which is something that's a little irritating when you nail five of them, though the scatter pays help to even that out a bit.
The scatter payouts, from the same symbol that gives the free spins, starts with a nice $600 payout for five. Four gets you $75, which is still pretty good, and you can also pick up $6 for three or $3 for two. Remember that these pay for scatters anywhere on the reels, and they don't have to line up on the reels from left to right like they do in many games (especially 15-payline titles).
Lantern Bonus Round
The lanterns are a main set of symbols for Serenity, so it makes sense that there would be a Lantern bonus feature. If you get three or more of the Lantern Bonus symbol on the reels, though they have to be on an activated payline, then you get a shot at picking from a number of different lanterns for bonus features. Your maximum win is 300x for three, 400x for four and 500x for five. This is a pretty tame feature, but it fits the theme perfectly, and it doesn't break your relaxation with anything too complicated as far as bonus features go.
Wilds and Other Top Payouts
Wilds give you the best wins in the game outside of the bonus feature payouts. You can get $750 for five of a kind in wilds, and that drops to $200 (still a sizable sum for a $1.50 bet size) for four. Wilds pay $20 for three and $0.50 for two.
The red lantern and orange lantern are responsible for a $50 payout for five of a kind in either. That drops in half for five of the third and final lantern, which is purple, so you'll get $25. The $12.50 win for five of the red A is decent, and you'll also pick up $10 for five of the orange K or yellow Q. At the bottom end of the pays, you have $7.50 for five of the green J or blue 10.
Microgaming's purpose with Serenity was to provide a relaxing experience. They've largely achieved this with the visuals and the music. With that having been said, their use of the lightly-stylized A, K, Q, J and 10 symbols, which are straight out of another Asian-themed game of theirs, is somewhat disappointing, especially when plenty of other lanterns could have been used. Overall, it's not a bad title, but it's disappointingly generic, and it looks like they were just looking to boost their number of slots by throwing this game together quickly without all that much thought. They could have done a lot more with the game concept, and they chose not to for reasons we can only guess.