Hong Bao couples innovative gameplay with fabulous visuals to make a slot that’s pleasing to play. Not to mention the high volatility, and provided you play the right kind of settings the RTP isn’t too bad either.
Hong Bao (or "Red Envelope" in English) is another Chinese themed slot centred around the new year's tradition of giving cash gifts in red envelopes.
On the reels a range of vaguely Chinese artefacts serve as symbols, while in the background the sea laps at a beach below two temples in something like a realistic rendering of a Fan Kuan painting.
The visuals of the game are about as engaging as such an overplayed setting can be. The background animations are subtle but make for a pleasant atmosphere and the reels are all well drawn with the typical high quality animation we all expect from Kalamba’s work.
The soundtrack however, is a serious misstep – an irritating pseudo-oriental form of elevator music that is best turned off to allow the otherwise excellent sound design come to the fore.
Hong Bao is a five reel slot with four rows and fifty fixed winlines.
But what makes the gameplay work especially well is the inclusion of various wandering and multiplier Wilds, as well as interesting bonus mechanics (full details below).
There is no gamble feature, but in a game like this, you won’t miss it.
The Wild symbol substitutes for all symbols except the Bonus, Free Spins and Bonus Collection symbol.
Additionally, there are Multiplier Wilds. These appear randomly at the top of a row and move down row by row each spin until they pass off the bottom of the screen. The size of the multiplier depends on the bet level you set: x1, x2, x3, or x5.
The bet level also determines the number of free spins in the bonus round should you hit three or more Free Spin symbols. You start with five, seven, eight or nine spins depending on your bet level. Multiplier Wilds remain in place once hit during Free Spins and additional spins can be earned by hitting Extra Spin symbols at a rate of one extra spin per symbol.
You can buy directly into the Free Spins bonus using the HyperBonus system.
The Bonus symbols (representing the titular red envelopes) add one to the bonus counter every time one lands anywhere on the reels. Once you have 50+ of these you can trigger the bonus at the Bronze level or wait until you have enough for the Silver (100 on the counter), Gold (150) or platinum (220) levels.
In the Bonus game, once triggered, the player is given three spins on new reels. These reels have a Bonus Collection symbol on them, an Extra Spin symbol, or are simply blank. Each Bonus Collection symbol adds to a new counter and your winnings once the spins are played out is based on how many of these symbols you hit.
The return to player of this game is highly dependent on how you chose to play. With the x1 bet level selected the RTP is just 94.74%. This is dreadful, coming in well below our yardstick of ~96%. However, playing bet level x5 in the base game pushes it up to 96.49%, which is much more favourable.
The best RTP of all is to play the highest level of the Hyperbonus exclusively. In this mode the RTP is as high as 97.74%. As this is also the highest volatility level, if you can afford it, this is our preferred mode.
The volatility of even the base game is pretty high though, so will pair well with our preferred strategies.
The range of bets on the site we tested was $/£/€0.30 when playing with the x1 multiplier, up to a maximum of $/£/€212.00 with the x2 multiplier.
While a little convoluted in the gameplay department Hong Bao has all the things we like in a game. It couples gorgeous visuals with a coherent atmosphere, a decent RTP, and high volatility.
Even that convoluted gameplay works to keep things interesting and involve the player more than your average slot.
We recommend this one to our readers.