Heart of Rio: Slot Overview
It's no secret Brazilians like to have a good time, and the crowning jewel in their calendar is the Rio Carnival, a party of truly epic proportions. The Rio Carnival attracts party-goers from around the world as millions take to the streets in a bacchanalian extravagance like no other. The first one was in 1723, starting a long-running tradition that takes place over four days, starting the Friday before Ash Wednesday. If you're the sort of person who likes the idea of partying but isn't into crowds, an increasing phenomenon in the age of social distancing, then Pragmatic Play's Heart of Rio could be the answer.
An online slot is always going to struggle to compare with a multimillion-dollar street rage up, yet Heart of Rio manages to ram quite a bit of colour across its 5-reel, 25-payline game grid. As ever, Rio girls are the stars, accompanied by parrots, toucans, masks, drums, feathers, and confetti on the periphery, adding life. The final touch is a samba inducing soundtrack, and okay, it might not be Rio, but it's got spirit.
Beneath all the tinsel, Heart of Rio runs on the same engine used in a previous Pragmatic Play slot titled El Dorado City of Gold. Being a straight reskin means Heart of Rio of gold ships with a solid default RTP value of 96.5% coupled with medium volatility, rated 3 out of 5 by the maker. Potential is rather tempting, though just how close anyone has come to cracking El Dorado is an interesting question. Players get the same wide stake range of 25 p/c to £/€125 per spin, and as before, the carnival-inspired action is available on any device.
Heart of Rio is equipped with 25 fixed paylines to land winning combinations of three or more of a kind across. A simple game comes with simple symbols, led by J-A royals as the low pays, followed by coconut beverages, masks, an Adriana Lima look alike, and a lady in purple as the high-value symbols. The purple lady is worth 32x the stake for five of a kind, dropping to 5-7 times the stake for the other picture premiums. Another intensely gazing lady appears as the wild symbol, substituting all other symbols except the bonus, money symbol, or collect – only the pays really. Wilds land on reels 2, 3, 4, or 5 only.
Heart of Rio: Slot Features
If you're a fan of money collect style features or free spins, you're in luck because Heart of Rio has both of them. Disco balls are the money symbols which land on reels 1 to 4. On each spin, the money symbol takes on a random value from a predefined set. If 1 or more money symbols hit at the same time as one of the 5 collect symbol variations on the last reel, then one of the following occurs:
- Collect – the values of all money symbols in view are added together and paid.
- Extra credit collect – the value from the extra credit collect symbol is added to all money symbols in view, then the total is paid.
- Multiplier collect – the value of all money symbols on the reels is multiplied by the value of the multiplier collect symbol, then the product is awarded.
- Expanding collect – all reels holding a money symbol become covered in money symbols of random values. All are then tallied up and paid.
- Respin collect – all money symbols in view lock in place and the remaining cells respin. The value of locked money symbols is added to any new ones from the respin and paid.
A pair of bongo drums are the scatter symbols, and 3 in view on reels 2-4 award 8 free spins plus a token payout worth 1 times the bet. During free spins, the rules are the same as normal spins regarding the money collect feature, with one key difference. When money symbols hit, their values are also collected in a prize pot. After free spins end, the value of the bonus pot is returned to the reels in the form of a giant money symbol on reels 1-4. A respin occurs, and if a collect symbol hits on reel number 5 the bonus pot is paid. One last point, +8 additional free spins are awarded should 3 scatters land during the feature, with no limit.
Heart of Rio: Slot Verdict
The reskin might make Heart of Rio more appealing than its predecessor was for players keen on partying but have a full schedule of commitments. Really though, Heart of Rio is essentially the same as El Dorado City of Gold was, provoking similar reactions. Its mid volatility might be a little too much for some totally laid back casual entertainment, yet not enough for a really wild time either. The middle of the road gaming certainly produced mixed results during test runs.
The money collect system offers a quicker, relatively intense experience compared to standard hold & wins. However, unlike regular hold & wins, you don't get the chance to build something massive – in the base game at least. The extra bonus pot is a nice addition during free spins and can get quite exciting for the final respin. It's tough to get that all-important collect symbol on the last spin needed to claim the prize but it is sure to get the blood running when it does drop. Big pots are possible too, and Pragmatic Play claims players can collect wins as high as 10,500 times the stake while spinning Heart of Rio (which should probably be taken with a grain of salt).
Despite the claimed sizeable potential, Heart of Rio feels like it's trying to give off the impression it's bigger than it actually is. There are okay moments - decent prize pots are technically possible, plus the money collect turns out alright occasionally, but most of the time, Heart of Rio is closer to a street barbecue than a global celebration of life.
Most of the time, Heart of Rio is closer to a street barbecue than a global celebration of life.