Rise of Merlin (Play'n GO): Review
Spoiler: Rise of Merlin is a case of same-same-but-different, which maybe shouldn't come as a surprise when talking about Play'n GO, a company that has built much of it success cloning other providers work. In this very case, however, Greentube beat them to it, and here is where it gets interesting. While Greentube has filed a dispute against Play'n GO for having ripped off their flagship title Book of Ra, Greentube themselves, having released Book of Ra Magic, have ripped of Merkur's flagship title Magic Mirror Deluxe, which in turn is based on Magic Mirror, a clone of Book of Ra. Or could it be the other way around? Phew.
In any instance, the truth is that the industry has been plagued by this sort of free-for-all mentality since the beginning of time, and intellectual property, when speaking of mechanics and game engines, has proven to be seemingly impossible to safeguard. Though we don't really know what's going on behind the scene, we can only assume that providers are getting away with it, which brings us to this "new" game from Play'n GO. If Magic Mirror Deluxe is the sequel to Magic Mirror, then most certainly Play'n GO's Rise of Merlin could be regarded as the follow up to Book of Dead. If you're familiar with the games mentioned, you probably already know what to expect.
Now, being a clone and all, you would think that the Swedish based studio would at least bother to come up with a different theme, but that is not the case. What you get in Rise of Merlin is a fantasy-themed 5-reel, 3-row slot where up to 10 paylines can be activated, allowing you to play from as little as 1 cent up to 100€ per spin. This, of course, makes it suitable for all players and gambling budgets.
You have to be a little alert when you play slots from Play'n GO as they allow operators to choose from a range RTP settings. Typically, it should be set to 96.58% in most of our accredited casinos, but in order to adjust for changes in the market, some operators have felt the need to go with the lower 94.51% setting. You should be able to check this in the help file. Either way, Rise of Merlin is an extremely volatile game in which everything boils down to the Free Spins round and where a retrigger can lead to additional spins as well as extra expanding symbols.
Visually, Rise of Merlin is rather basic, but that is really secondary as the game's appeal is much more than surface level. Based on the legendary medieval enchanter Merlin, in the backdrop you will see a great hall-like structure with arches and pillars. Spinning around the reels you will see A to 10 royal values as well as owls, dragons and Merlin the enchanter himself. He's the most rewarding and will give you a whopping 500 times your stake for 5 on a full payline. The wild is represented by a crystal ball and substitutes for all regular symbols. Like the Merlin symbol, 5 wilds yields 500 times your total stake.
Rise of Merlin (Play'n GO): Features
Like its forerunners Magic Mirror Deluxe and Book of Ra Magic, it's all about the Free Spins feature here. To trigger it, you need to land 3 or more crystal ball scatter symbols - this will give you 8 free spins. You probably already know the drill, but here it goes. Before the feature gets underway, one of the regular symbols is chosen randomly as your special expanding symbol. Now, when it hits during the free spins round, it will expand to fully cover the reel.
So far, it's identical to Book of Dead, but a twist is revealed when you retrigger the feature by landing 3 or more scatters during the feature. When it happens, not only do you get another 8 spins, a second special expanding symbol is randomly chosen as well. If you retrigger the game yet another time, the process is repeated. Although highly unlikely, given that the probability of maximum exposure is roughly 1 in 8,7 million spins, you could potentially walk away with a jackpot win of up to 5000 times your stake*.
Rise of Merlin (Play'n GO): Verdict
While extremely popular with players, the same thing cannot be said about Play'n GO and its status in the industry. Regarded as a somewhat controversial company, Play'n GO has a history of rubbing many of its competitors the wrong way. This year alone, there's already been at least a couple of incidents. First there was the whole debacle with Starblast that had to be re-branded as Crystal Sun due to a clash with NetEnt. Then there was Perfect Gems that we have to assume didn't go down too well with Big Time Gaming seeing how similar it is to the Megaways game engine.
It's hard to say whether or not Rise of Merlin should be seen as "theft" or not as this type of gameplay is so common that it could be regarded as public domain by now - we'll let others be the judge of that. What we do know is that Rise of Merlin is a solid game that is just as good, if not better, than both of its forerunners. There is not doubt that it will be another long-lasting hit for Play'n GO.
*The cap for Rise of Merlin is actually 250000 coins and so the maximum potential differs depending on how many coins or lines you have in play. If you play on maximum coins and maximum lines, you have a lower volatility model and a win potential of 5000x total bet. However, if you play on minimum coins and minimum lines, you have large volatility but a win potential of 250,000x total bet. Hope this answers it. - Magnus Olsson (Play'n GO).
There's a sequel titled Lord Merlin and the Lady of the Lake that you may want to check out, offering twice the potential and several new explosive features.
Even though Play’n GO doesn’t stray very far from the formula it has mirrored, Rise of Merlin is a solid slot that is likely to become another classic.