Wicked Tales: Dark Red Introduction
Wicked Tales: Dark Red is the result of a Microgaming and Triple Edge Studios collaboration. If you recognise the game, it's because it's a re-skin of another Microgaming slot, although the payouts and mathematics have been slightly altered. Some of you will likely be able to tell that it's related to Microgaming's Halloween just by looking at the first screenshot. Maybe the discussion at the Microgaming office went down something like this:
- Microgaming: um, so how's development going? Things are a bit slow over here and we need to churn some crap out.
- Triple Edge: to be honest sir, most guys are on vacation so yeah (scratches head awkwardly), but we have this 100x potential Kitty slot we're working on, will be fabulous!
- Microgaming: Nah, screw that. Kittens are so 2015. Hm, lemme think. Ok, I tell you what. Y'know our smash hit slot Halloween?
- Triple Edge: No.
- Microgaming: Well, take that one, slap on some new graphics and just update that crappy paytable a bit. Voilà!
- Triple Edge: I'm on it sir!
The horror theme is still there so they didn't stray too far from the original atmosphere of Halloween. As the name suggests, Wicked Tales: Dark Red has a Red Riding Hood fairy tale theme with a dark twist to it. The background is made out of quite a beautiful illustration of the imaginary forest of Ravenmire, with some actual animated smoke coming out of the cabin's chimney.
Wicked Tales: Dark Red is a 5-reel slot with 25 pay lines. The game has a setup of 3-3-4-4-4 rows, and the Wandering Reels mechanics (which we will explain in detail further below) allows a 3x4 section of the reel set to move left and right which means the setup can change to 3-4-4-4-3 instead for example. Minimum bet is set to €0.25, and the maximum bet is kept at €200, making it suitable for high rollers.
Wicked Tales: Dark Red Symbols & Paytable
There are 10 regular symbols included in the game - a set of 6 low-value symbols and 4 high paying symbols represented by pendants, wolves, torch guy, and sexy Red Riding Hood, the latter being the most valuable awarding a 20x win for 5 across a full pay line. Thumbs up to Microgaming for having a paytable that anyone can understand. Instead of having to calculate coin value and whatnot, it shows the actual value of the symbols in cash related to your current bet size.
There is, of course, also a Wild symbol that does its usual job, as well as a bonus triggering symbol that comes in the form of a Full Moon.
Wandering Reels & Jumbo Blocks
If you've ever played Halloween, then you've already seen this before. If not, you will likely notice the unusual, and quite innovative we must admit, wheel layout. The Wandering Reels block is a group of 3 reels and 4 rows that spin together, moving randomly left and right with the majority of spins.
More importantly, the Wandering Reels carry so-called Jumbo Blocks which essentially are full 3x4 sets of premiums as can be seen in the image above. With the help of these, it's possible to land a full-screen top symbol to the total value of 1000 times the stake.
Wicked Tales: Dark Red Bonuses
Landing 3 Full Moon scatter symbols anywhere on the reels in the main game triggers the Wolf's Wheel Bonus. With the wheel activated you're guaranteed to trigger a cash win or a feature - even both is possible. For example, players can potentially first collect the maximum 20x cash prize followed by triggering the Forest of Fortunes pick bonus.
The pick bonus is how pick bonuses usually are, quite low potential. It's possible to win a 20x multiplier by revealing all 10 cash prizes, so there is indeed some money to win, but what you really want to do in this slot is to trigger the free spins game.
Wicked Tales: Dark Red Free Spins
The free spins game is activated when the bonus wheel stops on one of the premium symbols. The symbol triggered on the wheel replaces ALL premiums in the free spins, increasing your chances of landing a full screen of the top symbol. This way it's possible to land the max win of 1000x per each of the 9 free spins played out, meaning the game, in theory at least, has a 9000 times the stake potential. The chances of that happening are astronomical at best, and in reality you'd be happy even to see a 1000x win on this game.
Wicked Tales: Dark Red Conclusion
What the producers did here was to take an old game (Halloween), decrease the number of pay lines from 50 to 25, and double the maximum potential to make it into a slightly more volatile version. The original has a terrible max win potential of 500x, so this is what the game should have been like from the beginning.
The extra potential doesn't mean that your chances of leaving the slot in profit have increased. In fact, it has likely become harder as is usually the case when variance is increased. Testing the game for this review we had a lot of trouble triggering the bonus wheel, and even if you manage to do so, you're not guaranteed activating the free spins.
With that said, this is by far the best game to date to ever feature the Triple Edge logo, but does it really mean anything when the game is a clone of a bad Microgaming slot?