We have to admit, when we first saw the title Joker Gems, our minds didn’t imagine collecting actual gemstones on the reels with a predominantly space theme domineering over the slot. Joker Gems is Elk Studio’s latest release, set in the vast coldness of space, in which you don’t have traditional paylines and you have only one bonus feature to look forward to.
Despite the gameplay which promises to be rather different from your standard fare, the symbols themselves are something many players have seen before – gemstones of different colours and shapes, a lucky seven and, of course, a joker symbol, after which the title takes its name from. There are no Wilds or Scatters present in this game.
ELK Studios is a company from Sweden, founded in 2012, built around two core ideas. The first is to prioritise mobile devices in their development efforts, and the second is to use their limited resources to create less games that are interesting, rather than producing lots of slots that feel same-ish to play.
Given that we’re here, six years later, talking about ELK’s latest release, they must be doing something right. We’ve seen a more or less steady release schedule from the developer, putting forward a new title every month, and the studio was also present at ICE for the first time back in February.
How to Play it
While large reels and cluster pays aren’t anything new, they are a rarity in slots, and so we find ourselves drawn in. To achieve a win, you need to have three or more of the same symbol adjacent to each other, allowing players to form a cluster. On each spin, you’ll have a fair amount of blank spaces on the reel, which are made up for by the fact every time a cluster does happen, you have given a re-spin to expand it.
Each time a new symbol is added to an existing cluster, or a new cluster is formed, you get another re-spin, and you could theoretically keep going like this until you fill up the entire reels. You can play the title for $0.20 up to $100 per spin, which should appease high rollers and casual gamblers alike. You have an Autoplay options, but it is a rather rudimentary one, only allowing you to pick how many spins you want to do.
Honestly, all the visuals look awesome by themselves. The symbols look great, the way the reels are animated looks gorgeous, and the backdrop of outer space, somewhere far, far away is just beautiful, especially when paired with the relaxing music that players while the game is played. However, the theme itself feels disjointed and bizarre, which was a shame.
T&C Apply 18+
There’s only one bonus available to players, and its activation is completely random. Between spins, a Light Chaser may spawn, creating a cluster of four to five identical symbols, guaranteeing a win to happen, and like all other wins, you get a re-spin to follow it up, potentially expanding your win further.
Joker Gems is rather open with what you can win there. It has three fixed jackpots visible at all times. You win the bronze jackpot by filling all the inner symbols with the same icon, while the silver jackpot is won by filling out all the outer icons with the same symbol. The gold jackpot, and the most lucrative one, is awarded when the same symbol fills up the reels, resulting in a $50,000 win.
That said, ELK’s release also accounts for the remaining symbol, so with a full reel of the highest paying icon, on top of the golden jackpot, you would also win a 700x score. The title is rated at a medium to high variance, and we’d say that’s true, if perhaps leaning heavier on the high volatility side of things. It also sports a 96.3% RTP, which is higher than average for video slots.
Getting to the bottom on how we felt about Joker Gems was more troublesome than we thought it would at first glance. The theme was a bit too disjointed for our tastes, but we liked the gameplay in general. We just wished there was something more to do, as chasing jackpots can take a while, and there’s not much engaging going on otherwise.