Release the Kraken (Pragmatic Play): Overview
Release the Kraken is a maritime-themed slot from developer Pragmatic Play. For those who don't know, the Kraken is an infamous cephalopod made popular by Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Both books were released in the 19th century, but the legend of the Kraken far predates them. It originally appeared in the Norse Sagas which described a squid-like beast that terrorised the hearts and minds of sailors for centuries. Pragmatic Play continues the tradition with a slot that is capable of big rewards, but equally proficient in haunting dreams after a particularly savage session.
Being one of the better looking games to roll out of the Pragmatic production line in quite some time, the game is set at the bottom of the deep blue sea. Its semi-transparent 5-reel, 4-row setup lies before an old galleon, ominously wrecked on the sea bed. The UI allows players to choose 1-10 coins per line, with coin values of 0.01 -0.50. This means total bets from 10 p/c per spin up to £/€100. During the base game, players match up symbols of three or more on the 20 paylines for a payout. At 4/5 lightning bolts, it's not Pragmatic Plays most volatile setting, but don't let that have you fooled as it is certainly up there all the same. Release the Kraken ships (get it, ships? Sorry), with a respectable default RTP of 96.5%.
As often is the case, the paytable is split between low and high pay symbols. Low pays are card royals of J – A with nothing particularly nautical or interesting about them. High pays are more imaginative with four creatures of the sea – a green fish, blue fish, a turtle, and a shark. They all have a friendly Finding Nemo look about them. The game’s logo is the most valuable regular symbol with five of a kind paying out 25 times the stake. The standard wild is worth the same amount and can substitute for any symbol except the Bonus, Free Spins, or Chest Bonus symbols. There are a few other wilds, but we will look at them in the features section where they are triggered. After a few initial spins, there is little to differentiate this game (not counting theme) from several others in the Pragmatic catalogue.
Release the Kraken (Pragmatic Play): Features
The game comes to life when features drop and the beast appears which they do at random, or by being triggered. Let's start with the Random Spin features. At any moment, three tentacles appear over the reels waving a 'Pick Me' sign. Players choose one to unlock one of these spin modifiers:
- Kraken Lockin Wilds: This feature introduces a new wild into the game. Three chests appear on the reels and players open them one by one. Get 'More Wilds' and the game adds more Kraken Wilds to the reels. 'Continue Spinning' does nothing, 'All Wins x2 and Collect' applies a multiplier to any win value and ends the feature. 'Collect' ends the feature and wins are paid out.
- Colossal Kraken Wilds: this adds a giant 3x4 wild which is guaranteed to land on the reels. It might not cover a full 12 positions though. It can, but it could cover just the top or bottom 3 positions. Or anything in between.
- Infectious Kraken Wilds: this feature adds at least one Infectious Kraken Wild to the reels. These wilds turn adjacent symbols into wilds as well.
Special wilds during the Random Spin feature substitute for any symbol except the Bonus, Free Spins, or Chest Bonus symbols.
It's time to look at what those symbols do. When there are bonus symbols on reels 1 and 3, and a Chest Bonus on reel 5, they trigger the Sunken Treasure Bonus - 3 chests appear on the screen which players open one at a time to reveal cash prizes. There is no set limit to the number of picks. Players keep on opening chests until one of them reveals 'Collect' and the feature is over.
Finally, we have the highlight of the game which is the Roaming Kraken Free Spins. It is triggered with Bonus Symbols on reels 1 and 3, along with the Free Spins symbol on reel 5. There isn't a set number of spins for this feature. Instead, players are presented with a screen of chests which reveal +1, +2, or +3 spins although 99 times out of 100 you will probably be rewarded the standard 10 spins (at least that was the case during our test run). Players keep picking until that pesky 'Collect' message shows up again. Roaming Kraken Free Spins benefits from 40 paylines instead of the 20 you get in the base game as well as a win multiplier that starts at x1. Every time a wild lands, it remains on the reels and roams, and increases the multiplier by +1.
Release the Kraken (Pragmatic Play): Verdict
If players like opening chests, they are going to love Release the Kraken. It's all about uncovering the treasures contained within. Interestingly, every time we had the chance to open them, four was the amount we got. Every single time, no matter what feature it was associated with. Of course this could be complete coincidence, but it was strange. Its predictability started to get amusing after a while. Four was the magic number. The fifth was always, always the ‘Collect’ result. Whether that was with Kraken Free Spins or the Sunken Treasure feature.
We also started to noticed other patterns as well while playing the free spins feature (we probably played 30+ features). For example, if no wild landed in the first spin it would almost always land on the second spin of the bonus. Again, it could have been a coincidence, but it got a bit ridiculous after a while and the predictability sort of ruined the excitement.
Release the Kraken appears to use a similar math model to other recent Pragmatic Play slots. In fact, it shares a lot with Hercules & Pegasus. First, features are triggered in similar ways, secondly in the way sessions play out - volatile and whimsical. There is good potential of up to 10,000 times the stake, but games can easily go either way. That means winning big, or constantly paddling against a powerful current sweeping you in the wrong direction.
Like Hercules & Pegasus or Aladdin & the Sorcerer, without high doses of luck it can be tough going. Sure, every session is different, and everyone has different results. There are epic wins of course, or Kraken Wins as the game calls them, here. Just be wary. As Captain Nemo found out, the Kraken can take what it wants in its monstrous tentacles and crush dreams as easily as paper cups.
A delicious mix of walking wild chaos and multiplier mayhem help Release of the Kraken navigate the turbulent waters of its punishing mathematical design.