The Legend of Shangri La Cluster Pays Slot

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While there have been a few fictional hidden paradises that have become cultural touchstones, we’re pretty sure that none of them are as widely known as Shangri-La. This mystical forgotten valley in the Himalayas may have gotten its start in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon, but it has since come to be used as a stand in for any sort of hidden utopia that allows people to live in eternal happiness, far from the pressures and struggles of the wider world.

That’s the kind of environment that serves as the setting for The Legend of Shangri-La: Cluster Pays by NetEnt. One of the acclaimed developer’s latest releases, this online slot seeks to make players feel at home in this hidden valley, in this case populated by some very wise and devote animals who look like they might just be monks. But as you might expect, this paradise comes with some unexpected surprises – including a brand new format that offers up a unique way for players to win.

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A Natural Treasure

If there’s one world we would use to describe the environment of the Legend of Shangri-La video slot, it would have to be serene. Everything from the natural beauty of the valley that the designers have created to the soft, almost spiritual sound design is created with an attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from software by NetEnt, but which still delights us every time we experience it. Throw in an animated red panda monk next to the reels, and this is a game in which the studio really did a great job of showing off their artistic talents.

One of the nice things about all NetEnt games is that they are built in HTML5, meaning they can be built with compatibility for all desktop and mobile devices immediately upon release, with no download needed. Players have a wide range of betting options, and can spend anywhere from €0.10 (or similar amounts in other currencies) to €200 on each spin, ensuring that this can serve as a low limit game and appeal to high roller gamblers at the same time.

Clustering is the Key

If you play The Legend of Shangri-La, you’ll have to get used to a different style of play than you’ll see in most casino slot machines. That’s because you won’t be looking at reels and paylines, but rather a 5×6 grid of symbols on which you are trying to make “clusters.” These are created by matching identical symbols consecutively, adjacent to each other either horizontally or vertically. If you can make a matching connection of at least nine identical icons, you’ll win a prize, with larger matches providing bigger payouts, just like in a more standard slot.

There are seven prize winning symbols in total. The lower-value icons include a few thematic, natural living things, like a fish, a dragonfly, a butterfly, and a flower petal. Three of the praying animals make up the high-paying symbols, including the monkey, the elephant, and a big cat – which we think may be a Himalayan lynx, but that’s just our best guess. The cat offers the largest payouts, up to a maximum of 10,000 credits if you can find them on all 30 locations on the reels.

Magical Bonuses

There are several special features on this game that can provide more bonus options for players. The first of these is the substitution symbol, which is a question mark that can act like a type of wild. This will turn into whatever icon will be most valuable to you if it can help take part in a winning cluster. While these appear on the screen naturally, they can also appear at random after at least two clusters of the same icon appear on any spin, adding enough extra help to guarantee you at least one win.

Another way in which you might be helped after a non-winning round is through the sticky re-spins feature. In this case, two small clusters of the same symbol will be held in place, and the reels will spin again. Any new icons that match the sticky ones will now also remain in place, and you’ll get to continue spinning. This process continues until you fail to add any additional symbols that match; at that point, any prizes you’ve earned will be paid out.

Finally, there’s the traditional free spins bonus round, which can be triggered if you hit three or more free spins scatter symbols. This will earn you five or more free spins, up to a maximum of eight. During these spins, substitution symbols will be added to the reels regularly, while a lesser amount will be removed after each round. Over time, that means you’ll get more and more help on the reels, almost guaranteeing a big win! You can also get some help triggering this feature, as if you’re close to getting a third scatter, the game may nudge it on the screen for you to get you into the bonus game.

Paradise Found

If you’ve ever played a NetEnt slot machine before, you know that this is a company that makes serious games with top notch graphics, animations, and gameplay, and builds convincing worlds from their creative themes. This machine is no exception, making it a great addition to the company’s online casino collection. That said, the unique play style means that you might be well served by playing a free Legend of Shangri-La slot machine before trying this one for real money. Still, we think most gamblers will find that the exciting action and interesting format make this game a great change of pace from the classic slots grind.