Desperate Dawgs: Slot Overview
Mixing the gritty, raw emotion of the Old West with a bunch of cute yet feisty pups is Desperate Dawgs from developer Reflex Gaming. This is the second time we’ve crossed paths with the UK based studio, the first occurring in Moley Moolah, their debut on Yggdrasil’s YGS Masters Program. Its old fashioned look was something of an acquired taste despite offering several okay features. Desperate Dawgs shares a cosmetic similarity to the mole one, while possessing a much more mainstream theme.
At first glance, Desperate Dawgs is a graphical improvement since last time, though it might not be much of a compliment. Played using 5 reels, and 20 paylines, the game area fronts a desert background, all cactuses and pleasing pastely tones. Reflex has kept up the retro feel through things like a menu bar and help files that look like they came from 2005 Myspace. Whether this is by choice or a design limitation, it’s hard to tell at times. Visuals are decent enough overall, nothing special, though the whistle led soundtrack adds some much-needed country boy feels to the game.
Reflex began their career designing physical cabinets, turning their focus to the online space later on down the track. As part of the digital shift, Desperate Dawgs can be played on any device, allowing bets from 20 p/c to €/£100 per spin. One of the nice things about slots is that developers attack each theme in a different way, providing options for all sorts of gambler personalities. Some go sadomasochistic, others like Desperate Dawgs cater to players on the other end of the spectrum. In concrete terms, this means a low/medium volatile math model producing an RTP of 95.03%. Hits land often, with a frequency of 28.47%, as do bonus games really, around once every 114 spins or so, adding up to steady, low key gaming.
All symbols in Desperate Dawgs require at least three to form a winning combination, except the top paying symbol, this one pays out when just two land. This is the logo, followed by a sheriff’s badge, pistol, diamonds, clubs, spades and hearts. Values for non-card suit symbols add up to 10 to 25 times your stake for five of a kind. The final symbol for this section is the wild, which replaces all other pay symbols to complete winning combinations.
Desperate Dawgs: Slot Features
Each of the three desperate dawgs is associated with a different bonus game – Wagon Trail, Bank Buster, and Crime Spree;
- The Wagon Trail feature is triggered when three or more Wagon Train bonus symbols land. Three old-time wagons appear on screen for you to pick one. Once clicked, the wagon opens to reveal a cash prize. More scatters triggering the bonus increases the possible prize value.
- The Bank Buster is started when the Bank Buster bonus symbols land on reels 1, 3, and 5. In this one, players select numbers from a keypad to unlock a safe. When the code is cracked, one of three safes opens to award a prize.
- Crime Spree is a free spins feature, activated when three or more Crime Spree symbols are in view. During these free spins, a multiplier is active, which increases by +1 with each free spin. Retriggering Crime Spree can increase its multiplier up to x30 at the most.
Desperate Dawgs: Slot Verdict
The last time we caught up with Reflex Gaming was in their underground critter infested Moley Moolah. Despite being a very different game in many ways, Desperate Dawgs possess a similar look and feel. It’s difficult to find a polite way of saying this, but both come across as a little low budget. There are parts of Desperate Dawgs which look alright, other aspects not so much. The win line thing and the UI, for example, appear to have leapt right out of 1999. The weird thing is, it’s hard to tell whether they have been intentionally designed like this as we're uncertain if it's a physical slot port, or Reflex just don’t have enough experience yet designing online slots. Desperate Dawgs is not terrible looking, there are just elements like certain animations that make you feel like you’re playing an old PC game running VGA graphics.
As for the gaming side of things, it's not very hardcore. You wouldn’t waltz into this one-horse town pistols drawn, taking down baddies in a hail of bullets then riding off into the sunset with the governor’s daughter on Durango your trusty stead. Desperate Dawgs is more laid back, the math model/ thrill ride toned down to match the cheerful cartoon pups. Max win isn’t bad, though nothing too exciting either at 3,902 times your stake. Naturally, the base game isn’t a gold mine of coins, so you’ll have to rely on the three bonuses to get close. Free spins are possibly your best bet since they trigger most often, and having a multiplier incrementing by +1 on each spin is a helpful touch. The other two bonus games generally didn’t work out as well, during testing at least. However, the Bank Buster shows potential, plus having three different bonus rounds does add an appreciated layer of variety.
Add it all up and you’ve got an okay game that feels out of place compared to most others emerging from Yggdrasil’s Masters Program. The funny thing is Reflex isn’t a new, up and coming studio. They’ve been in the business since 2004, so they know a thing or two about game design. Flipping through Reflex’ back catalogue, all have a similar vibe to them, a sort of Rainbow Riches, corner of the local pub appearance. Clearly, this is Reflex’s chosen area of expertise, and they’ve released plenty of options to pad it out. Desperate Dawgs fits this mood and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Yet, for some muted old fashioned, basic, retro, whatever you want to call it gaming, Desperate Dawgs could be a match.
Some 15 years ago, Desperate Dawgs presentational frippery might have served to set it apart from the competition. In 2020, it’s old hat.