Surprisingly, we don’t see many more slots with the same kind of anime styling employed by this new release from Play’N’Go. The full title of this machine is DIO – Killing the Dragon; I have no idea what the DIO part of the title means, so I think I’ll stick to just calling it Killing the Dragon from here on out. The presentation is immaculate, although we have come to expect that from this developer by now, whilst the 243 pay ways and 96.25% RTP are also unlikely to shock anybody reading this. Hold up for a minute, though – the maximum win is quoted at a hefty 15,000x bet, which is one of the biggest payoffs I have seen in a Play’N’Go slot this year.
Could the feature set offer up a few more surprises? Let’s start with the “Lock up the Wolves” modifier, which is triggered by landing a wild in the open cage on the first reel. This will cause a new cage to appear on the second reel before a free re-spin is awarded, potentially allowing you to catch a wild on all five reels. Next, there’s a free spin bonus round that is triggered by hitting three or more scatters, with additional scatters awarding additional spins up to a maximum of 12. The free spins bonus has sticky wild symbols on reels two, three, and four, as well as several other unique elements that piqued my interest – check out the bonus rounds section for the full details.
That’s enough introduction. It’s time to suit up, get your armour secured, and sharpen your sword – a dragon is waiting to be killed! And if all that sounds like far too much effort, forget I said anything and open our free demo slot of Dio Killing the Dragon instead. It will probably be much more fun, anyway!
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dio killing the dragon slot theme, stakes, pays & symbols
It’s time to talk more about the theme of Killing the Dragon; this is one of only a handful of slots I can remember playing to employ a genuine anime comic book style, and it looks fantastic. The slot machine's reels seem like the perfect place for boxy comic book imagery, so it’s a mystery why we haven’t seen floods of games that use this style before now. My experience of this industry tells me that all it would take is a single game taking off in a big way to kick off a craze for similarly themed machines, however, so I guess the real question is – could this be the game to start such a revolution?
Games with 243 pay ways don’t usually have the most impressive paytables, which is an unfortunate side effect of making it much easier to score a win. The situation seems particularly acute here, however, as even the wild symbol will only reward you with 2x the current stake for a full pay way of five-of-a-kind. The sword-carrying hero is worth just 1x for each complete pay way, while the green monster pays just 0.7x for all five symbols, and the orange and purple creatures drop even further to 0.6x and 0.5x, respectively. The remainder of the paytable contains four royal symbols with returns of 0.4x and 0.3x for all five symbols, and that’s your lot, I’m afraid – let’s hope there are lots of opportunities to win more later on!
As for the betting range, the game's demo version permits bets between €0.10 and €100.00 per spin, but it isn’t easy to be sure if this accurately represents what is available in the real money version of the game. You can be reasonably sure the minimum bet is accurate, which is probably the most important thing for most players.
base game & MODIFIERS
The base game of Killing the Dragon uses a regular 5x3 playfield, although you may not realise that from taking a quick look at the game. Play’N’Go has made the unusual decision to vary the height of the reels, making this slot look as if it is a little more complicated than it is. Pay no attention to the different sizes – this is a straightforward 243 pay way game despite its unusual appearance.
lock up the wolves multiplier
Most of the action in this game is all tied up in the main bonus round, but it was nice of Play’N’Go to include a solitary modifier to spice up the base game whilst you wait for those all-important scatter symbols to drop.
The first reel has a cage around it at the beginning of each spin, and if you manage to land a wild within that area, you will trigger a free re-spin with a new cage placed around the second reel. Land another wild during your re-spin, and the process will repeat, eventually allowing you to gather a wild on all five of the games’ reels.
This is a neat modifier because it gives you many extra opportunities to simultaneously score a win on all 243 pay ways. It’s a shame that the highest paying regular symbol is only worth 1x the current bet for a full pay way, but this modifier gives you the first indication as to why the numbers on the paytable are as low as they are.
I did score a wild on all five reels while testing the slot, but it only happened a single time. By contrast, I managed to get the cage over to reel four many times, but the winnings on those occasions were far less than what I received the single time I caught that critical fifth reel.
dio killing the dragon slot bonus features
This is where it’s at! Scatter symbols appear on all five reels in Killing the Dragon, and hitting three of these will award you six free spins. If you are lucky enough to land four or five scatters, this is boosted to eight or 12 free spins, respectively, but I couldn’t manage to trigger either of those enhanced bonuses whilst I was testing the game. Hopefully, I was just unlucky – I expect that the four-scatter bonus is at least reasonably frequent.
free spins feature
Once you make it to the free spins’ bonus then the first thing you are likely to notice is the sticky wilds – these appear on the middle three reels, finally giving a reason for the unusual layout, and will stay in the position where they land for the remaining duration of your bonus.
I love sticky wild features so would probably have been content if Play’N’Go had stopped here, but they haven’t – the feature also benefits from a special symbol that lands on reel five, represented by two hands holding an orb, which will add two more free spins to your remaining counter as well as triggering one of the following modifiers each time it lands:
Fallen Angel – The angel drops a wild symbol at the top of the first reel. This wild will then move down one position on every subsequent spin before being removed from the reels after it drops off the bottom of the third position.
Symbol Upgrade – The lowest value monster symbol will be transformed into a DIO symbol, which is apparently the name of our sword-wielding hero, judging by the effect of this modifier. If the symbol upgrade is triggered three times, all monster symbols will be converted into DIO symbols.
Wild Multiplier – A sticky wild will be selected from the middle three reels, and that symbols multiplier will be increased by 1x. If the same symbol is picked multiple times, the multiplier can increase to a maximum of 5x.
This is an excellent selection of features, and my only gripe is that the bonus round often ended far too prematurely for me to see the real benefits of hitting multiple modifiers. By the time you get a couple of multipliers on the screen or upgrade a couple of symbols, your bonus round is almost certain to be finished.
The paytable mentions that upgrading all monster symbols to DIO symbols will result in you killing the dragon. Still, it does not tell you if a special prize is awarded or anything else about what may happen after this event. Despite my best efforts, I could not catch the symbol upgrade feature enough times to find out for myself, so I guess the surprise is all yours – if you want to chase it!
dio killing the dragon slot review final thoughts
Play’N’Go always seems to hit just the right notes with me, and this game is no different in that respect. The numbers on the paytable are very low, but this is clearly by design – this is yet another online slot which ties up the overwhelming majority of its RTP in the bonus round, so you’ll need to hit the scatters early – and get extremely lucky, when you do – to get close to the games maximum jackpot of 15,000x your stake.
The odds of such a win are probably not much better than winning the lottery, and yet, Play’N’Go has me utterly determined to try and beat them. That, my friends, is the mark of an excellent online slot.