Dead Canary: Slot Overview
When you're down a mineshaft, slamming away at the rock face, extracting precious resources, the last thing you want is a dead canary on your hands. The reason is miners used to take the birds down there as a natural safety device. While it's chirping, things are arguably going alright. If the canary keeled over, then get the fudge out quickly because there could be something noxious in the air. In Dead Canary, it's the opposite. In this online slot from developer Nolimit City, you want to see as many canaries die as possible (not real ones, of course), as it's one way of collecting loot. If your hard hat is in place, your picks sharp, and claustrophobia isn't an issue, let's march in and take a look.
This isn't the first time Nolimit City has burrowed below ground for an online slot. Dead Canary follows on from games like Fire in the Hole xBomb and Misery Mining, sharing some things while doing others completely different from its forebears. One thing they've all shared is a heavy environment in which to perform their stuff. In Dead Canary, the action takes place in a grotto-like chamber with rocks and a yellow puddle being about all there is to look at in the background.
So, not the most elaborate Nolimit City release visually, but what is intriguing is Dead Canary's game grid. The game describes it as 6 reels, laid out in a 3-3-2-2-1-1 starting configuration that can go to 3-4-3-4-3-4 when positions are unlocked. To win on this machine, you need at least three symbols to land on three consecutive reels, starting from the first reel, yet it might take a spin or two to get a grip on the layout for it to really sink in. Winning ways are removed by the cascade feature and are replaced by new symbols collapsing into place. A blocked row always opens up following a win, or by an xBomb detonation next to a barrier, or by the Wild Mining feature. Moreover, multipliers at the bottom are activated when the barrier is removed and the symbol is destroyed, or if the removed barrier reveals a scatter.
With a default RTP of 96.02%, players can pick base bets of 20 p/c to $/€100 per spin or turn on the xBet, which adds a 40% surcharge. For the extra dough, the first barrier is unlocked, and a scatter lands on each spin. Dead Canary is a busy slot serving up consistent action and a ton of features, but it's also extremely volatile, so don't expect all that activity to do something epic all the time - or all the often, really. Moving on to pay symbols, Dead Canary uses ten regulars, split into five low-pay 10-A card ranks and five premiums – a grappling hook, flask, compass, rat, and the mining chap. Hitting a six-of-a-kind win awards 1-1.5x the bet for the card symbols and 2 to 7.5 times the bet for a premium hit.
Dead Canary: Slot Features
Dead Canary's got a fair amount going on, but once you've wrapped your head around how the base game grid functions, it's not overly complicated. Here are some extras.
When 3, 4, or 5 of the same type of pay symbol are diagonally aligned, and there is no winning combination, the Wild Mining feature triggers. The triggering symbols are removed, and create wild symbols in the empty positions. Landing 3, 4, or 5 triggering symbols awards 1, 2, or 3 Wild bombs, respectively. Wild bomb explosions increase the win multiplier by +1 for the next collapse. All other symbols explode, except xBomb symbols. If a scatter is blown away, it appears in a new random position on the next collapse.
xBomb Wild Multiplier
xBomb Wilds substitute for any symbol except scatters. xBombs explode symbols in a cross pattern adjacent to them, except for scatters and other xBombs, increasing the win multiplier by +1 for the following collapse. All xBombs will detonate before the next collapse.
Canary Free Spins
Scatter symbols land anywhere, but those behind barriers remain inactive until they are unblocked. There are two types of scatters, Silver or Gold cages, and landing any 3 of them triggers Canary Free Spins. Now, free spins take place on a 4-3-4-3-4-3-4 grid with four locked vaults at the corners. Vaults are unlocked by xBomb explosions. Triggering cages carry over to free spins, and each one gets 3 hit points. If any canaries are on vaults, they move to a random position - 3 free spins are also awarded. Scatters start with a value of x1, and the Silver cage version can collect in an x-shape from 1 position away; the Gold cage version collects in an x-shape from the entire row. The vaults also collect anything adjacent to them. When a scatter loses all 3 hit points, the bird dies, and its value is awarded, then the bird is resurrected with 3 hit points again. Here are the special symbols used in the round:
- Coins – add their value to the scatter when collected.
- Multipliers – double or triple a scatter's value when collected.
- Bomb – explodes and affects symbols in an x-shape. Explosions remove one hit point from a scatter and unlock vaults. Bombs reset spins to 3.
- Upgrade – upgrades Silver scatters to Gold scatters, adds a hit point to the affected symbols.
- Gas - removes one hit point from all adjacent canaries.
- Dwarf – can be collected by one scatter and adds a hit point. When collected, the Scatter collects the values of all other applicable scatters on each spin until it dies. When it dies, it respawns as a canary.
- Rat – can be collected by one scatter and adds a hit point. Rats share their value with all other applicable scatters on each spin until it dies. When a rat dies, it respawns as a canary.
When spins end, unlocked Vault values are added to the awarded canary values and paid out.
Nolimit City Bonus
In applicable markets, players can access the Nolimit City Bonus to buy the bonus round. Paying 68x the bet buys regular Canary Free Spins, or 500x gets you Golden Canary Free Spins. The third choice costs 284x and is a lucky draw style option. When buying free spins, scatters are placed in random positions.
Dead Canary: Slot Verdict
Nolimit City's previous below-ground mining games have been heavy affairs, and Dead Canary keeps the tradition going with an equally weighty experience. The three games share a few things in common. One is the inventive base game grid layouts, where things such as expansions and reel unlocking capabilities are rife. Dead Canary takes this a step further, where the grid's almost leaning quality might make it a little tricky to grasp how wins are formed and, at times, why a win happened at first. The dropping, sliding effect of the collapse mechanic felt similar-ish to the one used in ELK Studios' slot Cluster Slide. You do get used to it after a while, and it offers a new slant on the action to try out.
Speaking of action, the base game actually saw quite a lot of it. Wins were plentiful, as were collapses, but payout values, even after a semi-lengthy game round, tended to be surprisingly on the low side. This wasn't as detrimental when playing regularly, yet with the xBet switched on, the game chewed through the balance at a noticeably faster rate. The flip side is that the free spins feature did trigger a lot more when the xBet was activated. As an indicator after tracking the first 1,000 or so spins (if memory serves), the first 500 were played in the regular mode, triggering free spins three times with a max payout of around 70x. The next 500 were with the xBet on, resulting in around half a dozen free spins triggers with a top payout of 183x. That seemed like a lot of triggers, considering the official free spins frequency is 1 in 197 spins, though, of course, this is simply an indication from a small sample size, which could go either way out in the wild.
Bonus round wins could have been higher if canaries didn't have to die before they awarded their values. Bonus rounds were quite busy, too, with loads of landing, collecting, gassing, unlocking, multiplying and so on, but returns could be so-so, regardless of the flurry. As mentioned, one of the reasons is because if those canaries don't perish, bad luck, you miss out. Unlike regular hold 'n wins which award everything that hits, you've got to land something decent, then hope the bird gets nuked or gassed so you can collect. It's kind of like commodity traders making a fortune when wars push commodity prices up. Back in the gambling realm, Canary Free Spins also brought to mind Push Gaming's Mad Cars, where juicy AF car symbols could land, but if they didn't pass the finish line, oh well, no money for you. So yeah, the tease might be strong with this one.
Of course, this is Nolimit City, so those familiar with their work probably aren't expecting to just tap a rock and watch gold come pouring forth like a shaken beer can. Mining is hard work, and Dead Canary can be, too, though it is another highly creative game like nothing else out there. It can frustrate but also reward to the tune of up to 65,000x the bet. So, for a challenge or to experience another Nolimit City envelope-pushing slot, Dead Canary is worth a prospect.
Dead Canary is a lumbering beast of a game, brimming with the sort of innovation that should please fans of what Nolimit City’s done beneath ground so far.