The most wonderful time of the year edges closer as the days go by, and if you're not sorted with your gifts and lists yet, you're probably not the only one. Some people like to be overly prepared though – like Relax Gaming, who have already delivered their Christmas release for 2021, Santa's Stack. With Secret Santa re-spins making up the bulk of the action, players shouldn't be fooled by the simplicity, with wins on offer up to 20,000x bet in this highly volatile release, topped off with a fixed RTP of 96.27%.
Santa's Stack bring us a fresh gaming experience, mixed in with a bit of Hellcatraz – the 2020 release from the team at Relax. Visuals are vintage, with a subtle classic video game pixellation making things what they are, even within the quiet town centre backdrop, adorned in Christmas lights. Audios are hard to describe – it's not that they don't have a slight Christmas feel to them, it's just that if we couldn't see the graphics, we're not sure the sounds would scream ‘festive'. Instead, it's more like closing your eyes and remembering playing your new game on the living room floor on Christmas morning, too young and naive to question how one man can visit every child in the world within one night.
Santa's Stack Base Features
Taking place on an 8×8 grid, Santa's Stack works with the cluster pays mechanic we expect from a grid release – land at least 5 matching symbols touching horizontally or vertically to form a win. Symbols available begin at the lower end with blue, green and red Christmas lights, rewarding players with wins of 0.2x bet for clusters of 5, increasing to values between 750 and 1,250x bet for clusters of 60. At the premium end it's Rudolph, an Elf and Mrs Clause awarding wins of 0.5x bet for clusters of 5, increasing to values between 2,000 and 4,000x bet for clusters of 60. Santa Clause is the star of the show, and rightfully so, paying 1x bet for clusters of 5, increasing to a whopping 10,000x bet for clusters of 60 as the highest paying symbol. Finally, red and yellow Wilds can land in any position, substituting for all symbols except Scatters.
Surprisingly, Santa's Stack features no cascades, reactions, tumbles, or whatever you prefer to call them. Instead, there's only one feature to keep things ticking over, but thankfully it can be a good one – the Secret Santa Re-Spin feature. On any spin, when a wild symbol is part of a winning cluster, the Secret Santa feature will be triggered. At this point, all symbols involved in the cluster win will convert into mystery symbols, and a re-spin will be awarded.
During re-spins, any time a win occurs adjacent to (touching) one of the mystery symbols, the new winning cluster will also convert into mystery symbols, and another re-spin will be awarded. When no more winning clusters, either involving a wild or adjacent to existing mystery symbols, are formed re-spins will end, and all mystery symbols will reveal the same symbol.
Santa's Stack Bonus
Land 3 or more Christmas Tree Bonus Symbols to trigger 5 free spins, with an additional +1 free spins for every additional Bonus Symbol beyond the third. During free spins, the Secret Santa Re-Spin feature is active, and wilds are guaranteed to land on every spin – on the first spin, 1 wild is guaranteed, with the minimum amount guaranteed increasing by 1 every spin.
Bonus Symbols can continue to land during free spins, and may award:
- +1 Additional Spins
- +1 Multiplier
- +1 Additional Spins and +1 Multiplier
Players in appropriate regions can buy straight into the free spins feature for a cost of 100x bet – when doing so the RTP will also increase slightly to 97.0%.
The maximum win available is 20,000x bet. If the sum of all wins achieved in a single game round or free spins feature exceeds 20,000x bet the game round will end, and 20,000x bet will be awarded.
So, first off – it's immediately strange to see a unique seasonal release. Usually, we see a simple re-skin for the holidays, but in this instance Santa's Stack is in itself a distinctive release. Although baring vague similarities to Hellcatraz with mystery symbols and a vintage design, this isn't a re-skin, and shouldn't be considered as such.
With only one feature on offer, it would be too easy to consider Santa's Stack to be a small, simple slot – but great potential lies within, with wins up to 20,000x bet on offer in this highly volatile release. The Secret Santa Re-Spin feature, although not the most innovative approach ever, does keep things exciting, especially when we consider the size of the cluster wins on offer – pretty huge if you have enough symbols in play. RTP is fixed at 96.27% which we love to see, only changing only in a positive way with a slight increase to 97.0% for those able to avail of the feature buy.
Santa's Stack is a nice addition to the Relax catalogue, and boasts the same potency we've gotten used to from the team. Is it quite enough to tempt players back in the middle of Spring? Well, it might just be…
*The screenshots taken of games reviewed on this site are taken from Demo Play, as reviews are often written before games are released for real play.