Imagine a sea of Japanese Cherry Blossom hidden in a harmonious valley with a rippling stream and soft falling waterfalls completing the picture. Mountains rising high, partly disappearing into the cloudy sky, adding to the mystery. That’s what you’re about to experience, entering what can be called a utopia where you’ll find tranquillity and harmony. Splionzo, a wise and charismatic monk, will be waiting for you to share some magic moments with you.
Don’t let your Master wait as he’s eager to accompany you on the path to enlightenment. However, be careful of the dragon spirit on the mountain! It does not take trespassers lightly. With your Master by your side, you will prevail the darkness, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and harmony of The Legend of Shangri-La is offering you.
The Legend of Shangri-La
I always wonder where NetEnt gets the inspiration from and this time the title lead me to the probable source of inspiration. An earthly paradise has always been a recurring theme in tales and novels, no wonder NetEnt saw a good theme in Shangri-La.
Shangri-La is a so called paradise in which human beings live in harmony with nature and where the wisdom of the planet is saved for many generations. Unfortunately, humans have never been capable of maintaining such a world. By now, seven billion people live in a chaotic world in which wars will never disappear and money seems to be the driving force of life.
We deal with the world daily, accepting its ugliness and its beauty while we do what we can to make the best of it. Some think money is most important while others do nothing more than pursuing happiness, with or without money.
While dealing with daily life, we try to escape reality by watching a film, reading a book, playing (casino) games or anything else that makes us forget about work and duties. That’s probably why many tales, books, films, and also video slots are based on paradise, Shangri-La.
The story of Shangri-La itself has been made up by the English novelist James Hilton who based his 1933 novel Lost Horizon on Shangri-La. The novel tells the story of a community in a monastery for Tibetan lamas, in a hidden Tibetan valley called Shangri-La. This heavenly place hides all the wisdom of the human race while all of its inhabitants live in peace and harmony, respecting every single aspect of nature, being opposed to all violence and materialism.
Isn’t that the world we all wish we would live in but we all know that has been long lost. Lost in real life, we continue to look for it the media in order to escape reality, even if just for a little while.
Let the wise monk lead you to paradise
Escape reality with one of NetEnt’s most harmonious video slots in which the wise monk, named Splionzo by myself, accompanies you on the path to enlightenment. Violence and materialism might be banished from this peaceful place, but be careful of the dragon spirit on the mountain! It does not take trespassers lightly. However, with the monk by your side, together you will prevail.
Once you arrive in paradise, you’ll meet Splionzo, always by your side, no matter how many spins you’re about to take. While you enjoy a sea of cherry blossom and fitting melodious music, Splionzo will show you what more magic Shangri-La has to offer. Danger lurks around the corner but do not fear as Splionzo will be there to bring back the peace you’re so eager to meet.
The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ video slot
The first thing I notice opening The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot at one of the NetEnt Casinos right after its launch in September 2017, were the two extra rows and one reel. This results in the standard 5×3 layout being replaced by a distinctive 5×6 layout, perfect for a slot game enriched with the Cluster Pays mechanic.
Part of the Cluster Pays™ series, true NetEnt fans will immediately notice the similarities between The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ and Aloha! Cluster pays™. The famous Hawaiian Tiki has been replaced by the wise monk and instead of a paradise bay, you’ll end up in paradise itself. That’s an improvement on its own if you ask me. Especially because I tried to look for it on Google Maps, but unfortunately, the only way there is by playing The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot.
Both games are bringing a lot of fun to the reels and if it comes to payout percentages and gameplay, I can’t discover too many differences between the two games. I personally think that The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot offers more quality when it comes to the design and animations but this could also be a matter of taste.
Aloha! Cluster Pays™ vs The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™
Both NetEnt slots bring a fantastic gameplay and while both games depend on the Cluster Pays™ mechanic, they have been enriched with a rich gameplay as well.
The Aloha! Cluster Pays™ slot brought you Substitution Symbols, Free Spins, and Sticky Win Re-spins while The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ features Sticky Re-Spins, Random Substitutions, Nudge Reel, and Free Spins.
With a Return to Player of 96.59%, The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot is pretty average so let’s have a look what at the betting options. Anything interesting there? Not really, as the game offers bets starting from 0.10 going up to 200.00. If you prefer to play safe, the minimum bet of 0.10 is fantastic and highly recommended. The same goes for the 200.00 bet for the daredevils out there. All players that belong in another category can endlessly play with the 10 different bet levels and 8 different coin values, just until you find yourself the perfect bet.
The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot features
As mentioned before, The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot has a great gameplay to offer including Sticky Re-Spins, Random Substitutions, Nudge Reel, and Free Spins. The Cluster Pays™ mechanics is what gives this NetEnt slot its allure, but the game would be soulless without the added features. They cooperate together as a perfectly oiled machine which results in great action on the reels and winnings for you as a player.
Another aspect of big importance in The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays™ slot are the Stacked symbols. Appearing as Guru symbols and Free Spins symbols, Stacked symbols can appear anywhere on the reels.
The Substitution Symbol transforms into the adjacent symbol that creates the highest possible winning combination in a cluster. Substitution Symbols cannot substitute for Free Spin symbols. However, there will also be Random Substitutions which can be activated when at least 2 clusters of the same symbol land in the main game. That’s when at least one Substitution symbol is added to the reels.
The game becomes more attractive with every single paragraph I write. This one will be all about the Sticky Re-spins. This specific slot feature will be activated when 2 non-winning clusters of the same symbol appear anywhere on the reels. Feature symbols will stick to the reels while all other symbols spin again just until no new feature symbols can be added to the cluster.
The best thing about the Stacked Free Spins symbol is that it doesn’t have to appear in full to be part of the game. Three half symbols can already do the job activating a minimum of 5 Free Spins. This number will climb up the more Free Spins appear in full with a maximum of 8 Free Spins being available. Great effort from Splionzo here using his magic walking stick when a Nudge can save the Free Spins feature otherwise missed out on.
In Free Spins, the peaceful life in Shangri-la will be roughly disturbed while day turns into night. The reels will be spinning for free and Splionzo is there to protect, but be aware of the damages the cold-hearted dragon can cause.
Thanks to Splionzo, random Substitution symbols will be added to the reels while the dragon will be able to remove Wilds from the reels. No worries, though, winnings will be around the corner anyway and once this fiasco is over, you might be bathing in winnings.