Golden Beauty (Pragmatic Play): Overview
After being treated to Pragmatic Play's slot Mysterious recently, expectations ran high over their next release. Mysterious took players on a weird and wonderful new tangent that was as fun as it was a new type of experience from Pragmatic. It built expectation for the follow-up. What would the form of their next slot take? What ride will they have us on next? Then Golden Beauty dropped, and it took less than a nano-second to clock that they’ve returned to familiar ground. Golden Beauty sees Pragmatic getting back to the Asian theme they are so fond of and one that uses mechanics and features lifted straight from an older slot.
The fact that Mysterious was an anomaly is apparent as soon as Golden Beauty loads. Players are greeted by a traditional Pragmatic UI and a 5 reel, 4 row layout with 75 paylines crisscrossing the grid. There are a few intriguing aspects, such as the counter above the reels which is part of the Progressive feature we’ll look at shortly. Visually, it's well designed although it does look like any other Asian themed slot. With a traditional Chinese town in the backdrop, you'll see tiled roofs that slope up at the corners, and plenty of floating lanterns. The soundtrack is suitably exotic as well, so the Eastern setting is complete.
The game offers a wider than usual range of bets from 25 p/c up to £/€250 per spin. Along with plenty of stake options, players will be happy to find a default RTP sitting pretty on 96.44% (although this can be lowered by the operators) and a relatively high volatility rating of 4.5/5.
The developers went for that brushstroke, calligraphy, look when it came to the low pay 10-A royals for an extra flourish. The high pays reinforce the theme further by using a Chinese lute, a golden comb, a jewel, something else golden that looks like a bookmark, and a pot of gold. Golden Beauty must be named after either all that gold imagery or the premium symbol which depicts a young lady. This premium symbol needs only two of a kind and appears in 1x4 size which can stack a full reel. Despite being the most valuable symbol in the game, she is worth just 2.8 times the stake for a line of 5. That is a rather ominous sign of things to come. The way the Progressive feature is constantly in play goes some way to offset low symbol values, though not far enough.
Golden Beauty (Pragmatic Play): Features
The most unusual aspect of Golden Beauty is its Progressive feature. How it works is that the base game is played in batches of 10 spins. During the 10 spins, when the special Lotus Symbols lands, its position is marked by a frame. When 10 spins sequence has been completed, all of the positions that have a frame are filled with a wild symbol which can substitute for any regular paying symbol. Once any wins have been calculated and paid, then the frame is removed, and a new batch of 10 spins starts.
To prevent players getting all cute and strategic, if the bet is changed in the middle of 10 spin cycle, it resets the counter back to 1 and any frames are cleared from the reels. However, progress is saved for every bet level that is used. That means that going back to a previous bet level will return the spins and the frames to the way they were.
The second feature on offer is a round of Free Spins which comes into play when you land a minimum of 3 scatters anywhere on the reels. Before the bonus round gets underway, however, you will be faced with three options which essentially allows you to choose the volatility of the feature:
- 3 scatters – choose 5, 10, or 15 free spins with 5, 7, or 10 wilds respectively.
- 4 scatters – choose 10, 20, or 30 free spins with 5, 7, or 10 wilds respectively.
- 5 scatters – choose 15, 20, or 45 free spins with 5, 7, or 10 wilds respectively.
During each free spin, the chosen number of wilds roam around the screen before landing on different random positions. Moreover, scatters remain in play which means the bonus round can be retriggered. When it is, players can choose a different option for the extra free spins. There is no limit to how many times free spins can be retriggered.
Golden Beauty (Pragmatic Play): Verdict
We mentioned the game possessing some tricks, but what makes Golden Beauty strange is its copycat nature. If you’ve ever played Scarab by IGT, then Golden Beauty will feel like a weird case of déjà vu. Theme-wise they may be centuries apart, but feature-wise they are carbon copies. Both use the same batch of 10 spins with wild frames feature, the full reel premium, and the same rules and choices to their free spins. You can imagine the collective quiver of relief at the Pragmatic office when the concept of Golden Beauty was pitched. After trying something new and achieving greatness with the slot Mysterious, the team slid back into their comfort zone with an Asian themed slot. That might sound snarky, but it's not meant to be. It's more a feeling of disappointment after experiencing what Pragmatic is eminently capable of.
So is it worth a crack then? Maybe if you’ve ever had the urge to play an Asian version of Scarab, there you go. Otherwise, not so much. The 10 spin Progressive feature does provide anticipation as frames build up but break out a calculator and that excitement withers. A full grid of the premium symbols is worth 210 times the stake, so not that golden or beautiful. Decent returns can be found in the bonus game with its limitless retriggers perhaps. Overall, Golden Beauty is an unoriginal let down, and far from Pragmatic’s best work.
After an excellently branching out and trying something new, Pragmatic Play hit back with a new Asian themed copycat slot that fails to have much, if any, impact.