Wolf Howl: Overview
Microgaming partners Just for the Win ‘leave this stressful world behind’ in their North American nature slot Wolf Howl. The last game we reviewed from JFTW was the Olympics themed Immortal Glory which went onto become fairly successful for the studio. One of the reasons is that during the Jackpot feature, players are just one click away from an instant 10,000x win. Those after massive payouts take note, Wolf Howl’s potential makes Immortal Glory’s look like spare change down the back of a couch.
Let’s leave the jackpot chasers hanging to check out how the game works. Wolf Howl is pretty conventional in many ways, built using 5 reels and 10 fixed paylines. The stats involved here point to a game suited to players who like a potentially rewarding challenge. It starts with a highly volatile math model and a hit frequency of 22.46% coupled with a solid RTP of 96.15%.
Wolf Howl’s golden framed grid has been plonked in a snow-filled forest, also glowing golden; from the aurora borealis or a forest fire? It’s not exactly clear. What is clear is that when it comes to looks, Just for the Win took one or two cues from Pragmatic Play’s insanely successful slot Wolf Gold as many others have done before them - the wolf and moon symbols provide a direct link between the two games. Other than that they are quite different, though the core rules are similar. Namely, three or more identical symbols on a payline, left to right from the first reel triggers a payout.
Playable from c/p 10 to €10 per spin, the regular pay symbols are a blend of low pay card icons and wild animals. From low to high, there are Jack – Ace symbols, a bunny, an eagle, a bear (with a mullet), and a moose. For a game that can turn into a wild multiplier fest, symbol values aren’t bad. Premiums vary from 6x for five bunnies, up to 20x the stake for a line of moose.
As mentioned, there are a bunch of wilds, and in the base game, they come with multipliers of 1x, 2x, or 3x. A line of five wilds is worth 30 times the stake, and if there is more than one multiplier on a payline, their values are multiplied.
Wolf Howl: Features
The base game is pretty dry when it comes to features, so it might be good to know you get some help in unlocking the bonus game from the Scatter Adder feature which appears at random during the base game. When the Scatter Adder is triggered, then 2 to 4 random scatter symbols are placed on the reels.
Needless to say, Wolf Howl is all about its bonus game which comes into play when 3, 4, or 5 moon scatters land anywhere on a single spin. Doing so awards 8, 15, or 30 free spins respectively. As they say, this is when things get real. For one, scatters continue to appear during the bonus game, providing a chance to retrigger the feature - 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 scatters in view award 2, 5, 8, 15, or 30 additional free spins respectively.
What separates free spins from the main game is the Wild Call feature. Each moon scatter in view turns all adjacent pay symbols into 1x multiplier wilds. If a wild was next to the scatter, it has +1 added to its multiplier - up to x5 at the most. Symbols can be upgraded more than once if they are adjacent to more than one scatter.
There is one critical element to this feature that is crucial to know. Any wins are calculated and paid before the Wild Call feature is triggered. This means the new or upgraded wild multipliers are added to the reels where they can be used in future spins. They are not applied to the spin they were created on.
If the base game gets too dull, players are able to sidestep it altogether using the bonus buy option. The three options available are 8, 15, or 30 free spins for 90x, 159x, or 314x the current bet respectively. Doing so also raises the RTP to 96.42%.
Wolf Howl: Verdict
How does the Ella Fitzgerald song go? You say Wolf Howl and I say Wolf Gold? Okay, there is a bit of similarity, visually at least, but wolf fans will be happy to know the two offer distinctly different gaming experiences. For one, Just for the Win opened the flood gates when it comes to potential. Wolf Howl tops out at 25,000 times the stake which makes Wolf Gold look pointless if money-making opportunities are your primary concern.
Whether size matters or not, it’ll help if you’re into straight forward gaming and volatility since not a lot happens in the base game. Wild multipliers are there for the odd adrenaline spike, and the Scatter Adder injects some nail-biting moments. Graphically, Wolf Howl is quite good too, managing a modern look with a bunch of physical slot elements such as the sound effects.
The bonus game is where Wolf Howl goes nuts though. During testing, scatters turned up in abundance during free spins. It wasn’t unusual to double (or more) the number of initial free spins awarded. There was a tinge of disappointment when we realised the Wild Call adds wilds to the reels for future spins rather than apply them to the current spin. Still, wilds rack up and do come in handy later on in the feature.
All up, if you’re not fussed by reel modifiers or tons of features, Wolf Howl is a stand-up option. It looks good, sounds good, plays well and creates the type of long drawn-out bonus games that end up on highlight reels.
Just For The Win explores new territory in Wolf Howl and whilst the result is rather good, it doesn’t exactly represent the state of the art in online slot games.