ALL ABOUT CRUSADER SLOT
In the rich and varied landscape of video slot themes, Crusader certainly occupies a unique space. ELK Studio’s March 2020 game release is based on the 1291 siege of Acre, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was a pivotal moment in the Crusade Era, as the Crusaders lost the city to the Mamluk army, in doing so losing an important stronghold in the region. The battle was no doubt vicious and bloody, and ELK do a great job of invoking the atmosphere with smoke and flames drifting across the city’s stone walls. In fact, the game is reminiscent of another historical slot of recent times, Blueprint’s Valetta Megaways™.
GAME SET-UP, SYMBOLS AND GRAPHICS
Crusader Slot is all about the atmosphere and ELK studios typically high production values ensure that the battleground from the story is brought to life in the intro and as you spin the reels, with a blood-red skyline, smoke and city walls providing a striking background to your gameplay.
The base game plays out on a five reel by four row set up, with 26 fixed paylines in play. The low value symbols are represented by the cards of Queen through to Ace. The premium symbols are three shield icons, a dagger, a bible and a goblet studded with gemstones. This last symbol is the highest paying at 10x for five on a payline. Look out as well for the Wild (a cross with the word WILD through it) which can substitute for all others. Importantly, ANY symbol, including the Wild, can land stacked in both base game and bonus rounds.
ELK have rated Crusader as 8/10 on their own variance scale. So that is certainly the high end of medium which means it will be a tough nut to crack. It may not be as super high as the monster slots put out by the likes of Big Time Gaming, but casual gamers should beware that Crusader will try your patience before paying out in any decent amounts. The advertised hit rate is 21.2% (1 in 5 spins gets a win of some kind) and the RTP is a standard 96.1%, which is reasonable for a slot of this kind.
NOTE: the top payout on Crusader is 2,500x but this is only possible when you enter the bonus round and start playing with fully-expanded reels, more on which in a moment.
GAMEPLAY AND FEATURES
Crusader Wilds and Re-Spins
The most important symbol in this simple slot is the Crusader Wild, all the good stuff happens around this icon. The wild will only drop on the first and fifth reels and it substitutes for all other symbols. If it appears only partially then it will nudge up, or down, until it occupies the entire reel. For each nudge required to make the wild stack fully visible, a re-spin is activated. Once the nudges are complete, the re-spins take place.
Free Spins and Expanding Reels
When both reels one and five are occupied by Crusader Wilds stacks, then the Free Spins round is triggered. Here, 8 spins are granted, during which the Crusader Wilds will be locked in place.
During the Free Spins a new symbol is added to the reels. This is the Expansion Symbol, represented by an Arrow. Whenever it lands it adds one more spin to your free spins total, and increases the reel set by one row. The reels can expand as high as 12 rows, increasing the number of paylines to 98 in the process.
Crusader Slot is a classy release from ELK Studios. Whilst it may not be packed with features, the simple gameplay and atmospheric backdrop draw you in and make for some exciting spin time. Your experience will hinge on how regularly you can land those Crusader Wild stacks and whether you can land two simultaneously to take you through to the bonus round where the expanding reels make things much more interesting. For a high variance slot the max payout of 2,500x is somewhat disappointing but that is our only gripe concerning a game that we fully expect to revisit on more than a few occasions to test our luck this year.