Neptune Rising (Plank Gaming): Review
As is typically the case nowadays, Microgaming lets its minions of independent developers churn out most of the content while we picture them doing other stuff, like chasing each other around on a sunny beach or throwing bags of money at each other.
With a total of six studios currently enlisted in the Microgaming partnering program, most of the content produced as been mediocre at best and seeing that Microgaming has failed to deliver anything of interest since, what feels like the days of 56k dial-up modems, our enthusiasm for its coming releases is on a steady decline. However, due to Microgaming's strong past having designed some of the best slot titles in the history of gambling (Immortal Romance, we're looking at you), there's always a "what if" thought attached to the projects they're involved in.
Plank Gaming is the insipid name of the most recent addition to the Microgaming lineup, a studio so fresh out of the oven its yet to open its official website. Plank, what does that have to do with anything? Who knows, maybe it's Maltese slang for "Hotshot". We did try to do some research, but all we learned was that this little studio currently only has two titles in its portfolio of games - Puffer Goes Wild and Neptune Rising.
Right of the bat we could tell that Neptune Rising is a rather basic slot, utilising a standard setup of 5 reels, 3 rows and 10 paylines. Playable on all devices from between 0.20 to 50€ per spin, the 95.92% RTP is marginally lower than the 96% industry standard. There's only one feature included in the game, the Neptune Rising feature, which can trigger randomly on any non-winning spins to produce modifier extras for enhanced wins.
Though there are many games making use of the Atlantis-theme, such as the recently released Master of Atlantis by Blueprint Gaming, we definitely get some Novomatic vibes looking at this slot. Neptune, which is the Roman name for the Greek god of the sea Poseidon, appears to be in better shape than ever before in this Plank Gaming's version and although not a visual masterpiece, Neptune Rising is surprisingly well-designed. Blue being the dominant colour, the transparent reels are your window to the ocean. You'll see waves roll in and break up on the shore, animated lightning strikes and godly sunbeams breaking through the clouds. Sure, some of the wave animations look a bit cheap, but it's a detail we can live with.
Symbols on the reels include 9, 10, J, Q, K and A card suit symbols as well as more lucrative treasure chests, dolphins, sea horses and mermaids. Neptune is the top symbol, however, giving you 75 times your stake for 5 across a full payline.
Neptune Rising (Plank Gaming): Features
Indicated by a lightning strike and Neptune popping his mug up from under the grid, the Neptune Rising feature can trigger randomly on any spin to enhance the reels with stacks of identical symbols or even modify the reels to add extra scatter symbols as well as regular symbols on a near miss. There is a crazy amount of teasing going on, however, leading you to believe the Neptune Rising feature is about to activate only to disappear again.
Landing 3 or more gold coin scatters anywhere on the reels triggers the Free Spins bonus. Starting with 10 spins, you'll benefit from the Neptune Rising feature activating on each spin, adding winning stacks to give you guaranteed winning combinations. A full screen of then Neptune/wild symbol will give you 750 times your stake and the game itself is capped at 250 000€. In true Novomatic fashion, the free spins feature seems to retrigger relatively often with 3 or more scatter symbols granting you 10 extra spins.
Neptune Rising (Plank Gaming): Verdict
Coming from an independent studio, we're quite impressed. There's nothing we haven't seen before here and it's in no way a game changer or something that is going to lead to a big breakthrough for Plank Gaming, but a cocky entry nonetheless. Furthermore, Plank Gaming knows visual design AND gambling, which is more than can be said for some of the other Microgaming partners.
Although there's a max win potential of 5000 times your stake on offer here, it would have been a bit more thrilling to play knowing the payouts were a bit more explosive. We can't help to feel that 750x is a rather low reward for landing a full-screen of the top symbol and to do it more than once in the same bonus, good luck with that.
All in all, Neptune Rising is an ok slot with ok potential. Unfortunately, it lacks that little extra that will keep us coming back for more. Once will be enough, unless we win of course, then we'll come back again.