Crystals have long held a fascination for mankind. These beautiful geometric natural mineral formations are responsible for some of the most striking geographic features in the world, such as at the Cave of Crystals in Naica, Mexico, and their beautiful design have made crystals much sought after the world over.
In this slot from WMS Entertainment, we venture into a magical Crystal Forest HD where there are all things magic and mystical, as well as mundane, reside. This is very much a gentle slot, not a game that is right in your face and it is somewhat relaxing to play, echoing the serene, mystical environment in which the game is set.
Overview: Crystal Forest
Crystal Forest has been designed to be one of the new breed of slots that is viewed best in High Definition. That means you would expect something that is a treat for the eyes. Certainly the symbols on the reels have been well designed and they look pretty enough, but it is fair to say that you don’t really notice the HD side of things when playing the slot.
The game is a 5×3 slot, but rather than the standard spinning reels it operates using Cascading Reels, which means the symbols fall into place from above and when you land a winning payline, the symbols disappear to be replaced with new symbols from above. These can then trigger additional payline wins from the same spin. There are 25 paylines in play and you can wager from $0.25 up to $50.00 per spin.
Who will the Crystal Forest slot appeal to?
Given that the Crystal Forest is a very gentle slot, I think this is a game for players who aren’t keen on all the bangs, whistles and frills that can be the hallmark of a modern slot. This is instead a rather quiet and relaxing slot to play. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it isn’t a retro slot as it has some very modern features, such as the Cascading Reels.
As such, this is a slot that fans of that particular feature will enjoy. It also has an interesting Free Spins round. Here you can earn up to 50 free spins via landing consecutive Cascading Reels wins both in the base game and also in the Free Spins round. This is an appealing feature and slots enthusiasts who like games with novel free spins bonuses will find lots to enjoy here.
Gameplay: Crystal Forest
Welcome to the Crystal Forest, a purple-hued domain where shimmering purple crystals sprout from the ground basking the forest in a gentle purple glow. That is the backdrop to this 5×3-reel slot from WMS games, which rather than having the standard reel set, instead operates using the Cascading Reels feature.
What this means is that all symbols fall from the top of the reels into the spaces below. When you trigger a win, the symbols that comprise that win will disappear and then more symbols will drop into the vacant spaces. This can trigger additional wins from a single spin. Indeed, it is one of the key features of the slot, as we shall see when we look at the free spins section in more detail.
One of the nice features of the Crystal Forest HD slot is that it has done away completely with the playing card low symbols. Instead what you have are a series of symbols all linked in with the Crystal Forest theme. These range from the lowest paying symbols (the bottle and the wreath) through the three medium-value options (rabbit, flower and toadstool), up to the higher paying symbols.
There are five of these and they are easy to spot. They all have the same border around them on the reel. They are the fairy, unicorn, butterfly, ladybug and mushroom.
The highest paying symbol however is the Jackpot symbol. This is a large crystal that offers a payout of 30x your stake if you can land five on one of the 25 paylines.
In order to help you land these wins, you can also land the Wild symbol on the reels. The Wild can be stacked on the reels too, increasing the chances of landing multiple paylines from a single spin and it appears on reels 2, 3 4 and 5.
There is no scatter symbol on the Crystal Forest slot. You trigger the Free Spins bonus by landing successive wins using the Cascading Reels feature. You need to trigger four consecutive Cascading Reel spins to win the fewest amount of free spins, seven. However if you can hit five, six, seven or eight cascading wins in a row, then you can increase the number of free spins won to 10, 15, 25 or even 50.
Once triggered, the Free Spins round takes place on a different colored reel set to differentiate it from the base game. However it should be noted that rather like the Crystal Forest slot itself, it’s a volatile round. Your wins in this section can range from just 1x or 2x your stake, up to considerably more. One nice touch is that you can retrigger spins during the free spins round by landing successive Cascading Reels wins. This will boost your chances of a better win.
Special features: Crystal Forest
The Cascading Reels feature works nicely on the Crystal Forest slot. It’s the key feature of the game. It definitely keeps players interested, as when you land a win in both the base game and free spins you can trigger additional wins (and potentially free spins)
Land four or more Cascading Reels wins from a single spin and you’ll earn yourself between 7 and 50 free spins. The amount depends on how many consecutive wins you land together. Free Spins can be retriggered in the bonus round, but the amount you can win during the round can be very variable.
Stacked Wild symbol is very useful especially when landed on the second or third reel. This is when it can lead to some of the bigger base game wins, as you can trigger multiple winning paylines on a single spin.
Without doubt the key feature of the slot is the Cascading Reels feature. All the main bonuses and bigger wins spring from this. It’s a good feature and you can get a run of nice wins on it. Although with the high number of symbols in the game it perhaps doesn’t trigger as often as players would like.
The Wild symbol helps the base game along nicely although you will tend to find that you land the stacked Wilds on reels 4 and 5 far more often than on 2 and 3 and that is a tad frustrating.
Free Spins trigger
The way that consecutive cascading reel spin wins trigger free spins once you get four in a row is a nice touch and does mean that on every win, you stand a chance of triggering a free spins bonus. It doesn’t happen often, but it does make each win a little more exciting when you play.
Small base game wins
Unfortunately one of the biggest disappointments about the slot is the size of the wins in the base game. Most wins are 3 symbols long and that means that most wins are generally very small. These can be increased by Cascading Reel spins, or by landing a rare bigger win, but most wins on this slot in the base game and free spins are small.
Low wins means a low jackpot size and with just 30x your stake being the largest jackpot available on a single payline, this means that this game isn’t going to attract the myriad of slot hunters looking for a game with an eye-catching top prize.
High variance slot
Unfortunately, WMS have set up this slot so that its a higher variance game, which means that you only hit very low wins and then on occasion will trigger a bigger win, however this doesn’t happen all that often and as such with so little in the way of bonus features, you do just feel that the slot is eating your money with little chance of a payback for you.
Graphics & soundtrack 2/5
The graphics are pretty enough, but the sound on the Crystal Forest slot is very disappointing. Just some random xylophone noises accompany the reel spinning. I’m guessing it was meant to sound magical and ethereal, instead it just sounds a little contrived and rather silly.
Originality & creativity 3/5
The Cascading Reels feature and how it is used to trigger the free spins bonus and the fact you can retrigger up to 50 free spins using this feature score well for the slot here, but in almost all other aspects, this is pretty much a bog standard slot game.
Play value 1/5
I don’t know whether the sessions I had were just unfortunate, or if this is typical for the slot but this is one of the worst slots for play value I have played in a while. Even when I hit a bigger win, I inevitably ended up losing all that cash on subsequent spins as the game is so tight when it comes to payouts.
Jackpot potential 2/5
The biggest wins in the game come from landing 5 of a kind wins in the base game and free spins and multiple free spins using the Cascading Reel features. Unfortunately, these are extremely hard to hit due to the high number of symbols that there are in the game. These multiple payline wins are so rare that the jackpot just seems totally unreachable.
Repeat play 1/5
Despite having Cascading Reels and up to 50 free spins, your chances of hitting them seem so remote, and the slot so expensive to play, that this is a game that doesn’t grab you and make you want to continue playing. Quite the opposite in fact.
Total score: 9/25
Cascading Reels is fun and the prospect of 50 free spins is enticing, but the sheer lack of value for the player makes Crystal Forest a very difficult slot to enjoy and with a lack of atmosphere and no additional bonus features, this is a game you’ll likely give a few spins to, then wish you hadn’t bothered.