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Slot Cascade Feature Explained – How Tumbling Reels Work in Online Slots

Round Head IconUpdated December 11, 2023 - CasinoBloke

The cascade feature found in online slots allows winning symbols to be removed from the game table and replaced by new ones. As a result, players can combo chains of wins with a single spin.

Often called Tumbling Symbols, slot cascades are growing more and more popular. Nowadays, they’re a common feature in many new slot games online. They can add a lot to a game, and fundamentally change the core experience of playing slot machines.

As such, this guide to slot cascade features will teach you everything you need to know about them. We’ll take an in-depth look at how slot cascades work and tumbling symbol features, and provide examples of games that gave them.

How Cascading Reels Work

Before we begin, note that different products and casino software providers refer to this feature by different names. We’ve seen them called cascading reels, tumbling symbols, tumble reels, and many other names. Just keep in mind that, in most cases, the feature works the same.

To provide a detailed explanation of cascades in slots, we’ll go through their operation step by step. For starters, you’ll need a game that features this mechanic or something similar.

Tumbling symbols don’t really do anything unless you win first. You’ll need to complete a winning line, as per the rules of the game. This generally means that you should arrange three or more matching symbols along an active payline, going from left to right. However, some games out there have different requirements. Sometimes prizes are awarded for more or fewer than 3 symbols. Sometimes there are no active paylines, and the matching symbols only need to be on connected reels, such as with Megaways. In rare cases, winning lines can also be made from right to left.

Anyway, cascading slots remove any winning symbols from the game. You receive the payout, and the winning line disappears.

However, new symbols ‘cascade’ or ‘tumble’ down from the top to replace them. The reason it’s called a ‘cascade’ is that every winning symbol is essentially replaced by the symbol that was above it on the same reel. This symbol that just tumbled down is replaced by the symbol that was above it, and so on until all positions on the reels are filled again. The whole thing looks like the symbols are falling in a ‘cascade’.

If a symbol that has to be replaced is located at the topmost position on a reel, it will be replaced by an entirely new symbol.

As always, RNG is used to determine which new symbols appear. There’s no real way of affecting that unless explicitly stated by the rules of that specific game.

Advantages of Cascading Slots

As you might imagine, this feature heavily impacts how the game looks and plays. Most slot machines simply spin, calculate any resulting wins, and end the round. However, games with this particular feature take things a bit further.

Once the symbols are settled into their new positions, the game calculates winnings again. If you’re lucky, the cascading symbols may form another winning line. This can happen through the new symbols that just tumbled down, or it may be a case of the new positions completing new paylines. Either way, you can get additional payouts just as you did on the initial spin.

Better yet, games don’t generally have a limit to how many times this can happen consecutively. New symbols can form winning lines again, and again, and again, and so on until a cascade happens and no new winning lines are hit. Of course, you would have to be extremely lucky for something like that to happen. Still, the only limit most tumbling reel slots have is the game’s maximum payout. The cascades can keep happening (and winning) until this hard cap is reached.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this possibility is taken into consideration when calculating the odds of slot machines. For example, winning lines may pay less than in a similar game with no cascade features. Alternatively, perhaps the game simply wins less often to compensate. Either way, tumbling reels definitely increase the volatility of whatever game they’re in.

Associated Features

Since tumbling reels are impactful, they’re often expanded by additional features, mechanics, and options. Generally, games that include cascades place them as a ‘central’ feature that defines the entire game.

Although every game goes about this differently, here are some examples of these common side effects:

  • Multipliers – Many games introduce multipliers that are activated every time the reels cascade. For example, you may get a 2x multiplier on winnings after the first cascade, which is increased to 3x on the second consecutive cascade, 4x on the third, and so on. A feature such as this one doubles down on the volatility of tumbling reels and can result in massive profits if you’re lucky.
  • Added prizes – In some examples of games with tumbling symbols, additional prizes are awarded for consecutive cascade wins. It’s another way of emphasizing the importance of cascades.
  • Extra reel positions – Some feature-heavy slots have locked positions that can be unlocked through consecutive wins. It’s a rare mechanic, but prominent games such as Cash Truck are famous for it.

These are just a few noteworthy examples, of course. The way in which games can rely on cascade are only limited by the imaginations of the people making them.

Best Cascade Feature Slot Games

We’ll round this guide off with a few of our personal top picks for online slots with tumbling reels. All of them are different games, of course, so be sure to check the corresponding casino game reviews before playing them.

  • Cash Truck We already mentioned this game, and there’s a reason it’s as successful as it is. The cascades in this game also unlock new rows on the game table. This means that your chances of winning and the average payout increase with each consecutive tumble, with special bonuses for anyone who unlocks the whole thing. It’s a fascinating premise, and we highly recommend trying it and the sequel Cash Truck 2, which turns the whole game into one big bonus round.
  • Wild Stack Frenzy – This Yggdrasil-made game introduces Wild symbols stacked into piles of 2-6. The Cascade feature can unlock progressively more wins using these wilds, which can have explosive results. Better yet, the Wild stacks all have multipliers, further bolstering their usefulness. It’s a great game with strong RTP and unique features, and you can play it on 888 Casino right now!
  • Temple Tumble Megaways – Made by Relax Gaming, this tumble-centric game combines the features we talked about in this guide with Megaways. Megaways, of course, are another highly impactful feature that revolutionized the way we play slot games. If you’re up for something more complex and ultimately rewarding, check out this slot game on PlayOJO!
  • Ractoonz – This acclaimed game from Play’n GO introduces a cluster-pay system that reminds us of puzzle games. Of course, those clustered symbols are also replaced by cascading ones, which presents an interesting iteration of the tumbling feature. It’s a bit experimental as far as online slot machines go, but that’s what makes Reactoonz stand out in the eyes of thousands of players. You can try it out right now for real money on the Mr Green casino!
  • Raven Rising – If you don’t want anything that is too “out there” and different from standard slots, Quckspin’s Raven Rising is a perfect option. It’s a classic, straightforward slot game with a 5×3 layout, high RTP, and a maximum payout of 6,804x. What’s not to like? You can play Raven Rising slots right now on the award-winning Casumo Casino.


The trends and fashions of online slots are always changing. Innovations pop up all the time – some are significant, others are just minor details. Symbol cascades are some of the most impactful features on the flow and experience of a game we’ve seen to date. That’s because they affect everything you do in a slot – typically, every spin, every round, and every bet you make can be affected by tumbling symbols.

All in all, we recommend players check out one of the games we recommended and see whether they enjoy slot cascade features. Although fun, they’re not for everyone because they typically come with reduced payouts and increased volatility. If you give tumble feature slots a chance, though, they can become one of your favourite types of games to play on a casino.

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