GOLDEN TICKET - FREE PLAY

Building on the success of their first 5x5 slot machine Energoonz Play’n Go crafted the really beautiful slot, Golden Ticket. Now most people would be expecting a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed slot from a game named Golden Ticket, however Play’n Go opted to theme their slot on an old-timey travelling circus.

This is the not your modern circus but the one brought to the fore in the recent PT Barnum film replete with moustached strongman tossing around 500lb weights, creepy pointy hatted clowns and an over the top Ringmaster! All its missing is a bearded lady and a mermaid skeleton display to round out the cast.

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Reviews

Theme and Symbols

The vintage circus theme is masterfully managed in this 5x5 grid slot machine, from the opening video to the heralding call of  “Welcome to Golden Ticket” as you load the game everything is perfectly set to enhance the awe and wonder of circus visit. Even the ambient sounds are well chosen, with murmuring voices, arcade amusements, vendors selling and the droning circus music you could pick out of a crowd anywhere anytime.

The game screen is split into three core areas. The far left hosts the multiplier list and shows you a rolling tally of which symbols you’ve matched, the value of each symbol, how many of them were matched and finally the cumulative value of the combination. A fun if slightly trivial set of stats unless you’re a bean counter at heart.

The far right of the screen is where you will find your current round of plays mascot. Here you will either have the Ringmaster, the Strongman or the Clown. Unlike Gemix where the mascot has an impact of the gameplay this is purely to keep you entertained as while each person has their own little quirk it in no way affects your bonus features, payouts or onscreen symbols. 

The main game screen is set up as a 5x5 grid with what we can only refer to as quasi-cascading reels due to the fact that while the winning symbols do disappear allowing the remaining symbols to fall down and fill the gap no new symbols fill in the remaining openings as one would find in a true cascading slot machine. While this may seem to be a rather limiting feature Play’n Go have built their Bonus feature and Wild feature into this unusual mechanic.

As for the symbols themselves they are well painted images that fit perfectly with the vintage circus theme. The standouts being the filigreed portraits of the Ringmaster, Strongman and Clown. Landing any 3 or more of these in a winning combination will make that person your new onscreen mascot.
The other filler symbols consist of two variants of the weights symbol (one with and one without a smaller dumbbell), two variants of the ringmaster top hat (one with and one without a whip) and a single set of juggling pins. 

Why the variants you might ask, well they will allow the variants to count towards a winning payline if mixed but this will cut your maximum by 66% on the weights and 75% on the top hat!
Where the art direction taken with Golden Ticket really shines is in the Bonus Feature. Rather than give you standard gameplay experience the entire 5x5 grid is retooled into a gorgeous five level arcade shooting gallery. The sense of depth added to the wood-look duck, lion, tiger, drum, balloon shooting targets really adds a sense of immersion that frankly the slot could have benefited from having seen more of.

Special Features

In keeping with its quirky and a little off the wall visual design and theme Golden Ticket make no attempt to become a normal slot machine when it comes to the features and bonuses on offer.

Shooting Gallery Bonus Round
When playing Golden Ticket you will spot a rather strange thing, the word BONUS will be spelt out vertically on the grid behind the cascading symbols. In addition it will not be fixed in place, rather it will appear randomly, moving location with every spin.

Revealing the word in full by removing the slot symbols which cover it up is the only way to access the Bonus Feature. In this Bonus Feature you will receive 10 Free Spins in the shooting gallery.The artwork in the shooting gallery is so exquisite and the sense of immersion so deep we were a little disappointed to realise it’s not possible to shoot or select a target symbol, it’s simply a free spins bonus game.

Claim a Golden Ticket

Even claiming a Wild Golden Ticket symbol is not done as part of the random symbol drop. You will never get a Wild as part of the cascading symbols, the only way to get it is to land 3 matching symbols on the reels (either vertically or horizontally). While the top and bottom (or left and right) symbols will disappear the center symbol will be magically transformed into a Wild.
A Wild will stand in for itself allowing you to get 2 Golden Ticket symbols next to each other. While this sounds amazing it can lead to you losing your Wild symbol as getting more than 3 symbols side by side will cause the Wild to disappear like an ordinary symbol.

This means that while 4 or 5 symbols pays out a bigger win you don’t get the ongoing win potential of the Wild symbol. Decisions, decisions.

Big Bang Finale

If you haven’t worked it out the yet the end game of Golden Ticket is to clear the screen of any and all symbols. All of these gameplay mechanics drive towards that tantalising but elusive outcome.

The big payoff at a thrilling round of cascading wins, free spins features and hopefully a few Wild Golden Tickets is the 1000x your bet that you will win for clearing the grid!
Given the maximum bet size of 40.00 per spins a 1000x win would make this the best visit to the circus in the history of mankind!

Final Verdict

Golden Ticket is quirky, beautiful and fantastic to play. There will be plenty smaller wins to keep your entertained along with the occasional Bonus Feature but it does feel lacking in the entertainment value area given that slots like Viking Runecraft constantly offer you something new to do or see.
That being said the chance to win a 1000x your bet by clearing the grid is enough to make any slot lover declare; “Challenge accepted!”