iOS Game Review: 4 Pics 1 Word
I don’t normally do iOS game reviews. I keep meaning to, because screencaps are easy and between my iPhone and my iPad I play a shit ton of games on the platform, but sadly most mobile games don’t seem to offer enough meat to warrant a full review. I’m mostly a fan of puzzle games on mobile devices – Flow, Lazor, Puzzlejuice, Zookeeper.
Now and then though, something graces the confines of my Facebook feed often enough that it makes me take notice. Today that game was 4 Pics 1 Word.
What a fucking waste of twenty minutes that was.
4 Pics 1 Word holds a simple enough premise. You’re given four related images, and a jumble of letters down below. You figure out what each of the images has in common – perhaps they are all of birds and the word is ‘bird’ or two of different things and the word is ‘pair’ or of bicycles and the word is, you guessed it, ‘bicycle’. The premise of the game is not difficult to understand. What I cannot for the life of me determine is how anybody in the world finds this shit entertaining.
It took me under five minutes to get to level fifteen. It took a little bit longer to get to level thirty. At no point during that journey did I experience anything remotely resembling fun. Some of the images are a little obscure; chocolate, cake pops, a puppy and a baby somehow equal ‘sweet’. Most of them are simple as balls. It’s just an anagram puzzle, and not an especially challenging one.
But what I really don’t get is that aside from the lack of any real challenge, the game is the most boring thing I have done in months. It’s about as fun as doing my taxes. It’s Excel Spreadsheet 2013: The Game.
You while away the minutes and hours of your day, tapping at boxes on the bottom of a screen. You guess the word, are rewarded with three coins and a tiny party and then jump right into the next so-called game, where the process repeats itself. Are we really that bored, as a species, that this constitutes fun? Are we really so desperate for entertainment that this bland, monotonous tripe can leap to the top of the App Store games list, second only to Plants Vs Zombies HD?
And whats that I see at number three? A cheat app for the very same bland, monotonous game? If you’re having to cheat at what essentially amounts to a literacy and spelling ability test then you are in desperate need of some futher education my dear reader. Our overlord here at House of Geekery managed to play the first fifty levels while reading his kid a bedtime story. How hard could the game possibly be?
I showed the game to my mother, thinking that perhaps my envelopment in high def console games like Halo 4, Assassins Creed 3 (which incidentally, is also largely boring – what is it with games and pointless micromanagement?) and in depth lateral puzzlers for iOS like The Room (which is brilliant and you should all play) and the truly pain inducing Finger Tied (also for iOS) had spoiled me. Her response?
“Well that was boring”
She acknowledges that it would be great to teach younger kids literacy and test their knowledge of common words and the different meanings behind them but as a game, this is a boring waste of time and energy; another in the long line of ‘words with friends’ style time wasters.
Except naturally this has no multiplayer component; no scoreboards, no friends to beat, no competitive aspect of any kind. So not only are you wasting your time on a dull, worthless game but you aren’t even doing it with your friends. In fact the only social aspect of this game is the share to Facebook feature, allowing you to show your friends how badly you’re doing and see if any of them can solve the puzzle for you so you can move on to the next identical, bland page.
It’s legitimately infuriating and completely baffling.
There are plenty of really great games out there for mobile platforms and many of them are on iOS (although not that damn Ingress game for Android. Stupid Android. I would play the shit out of that game) simply because iOS has the most apps. And it’s perfectly okay that out of the billion or so apps on the App Store, some of the games are going to be absolute shite; that’s just the law of averages there. But what’s not okay is how many of those terrible, awful, truly shite games like
4 Pics 1 Word get so much traction and garner such popularity because everybody is cheerfully jumping off the bridge with all their mates.
I guess the moral of this article is the following: There are plenty of great games out there – I think I’m even going to write up a list of great gaming apps for the iPad and other iOS devices – and they aren’t hard to find. So do some research, look into indie game reviews online, ask a nerd friend (you all have one) what games they’d recommend for your tablet or phone.
And the other moral is stop playing 4 Pics 1 Word because it’s shit and the more of that crap you make popular the more of that crap they are going to make. I mean fuck, even Farmville is better than that crap.
You can harass the author of this post via Twitter: @CAricHanley
[inb4: Yes the two screencaps are from early levels. I had already become tired of this game and deleted it it before the review was suggested and I so decided to only play to the fruit level because honestly I have better things to do with my time than play this shit. I'm also aware that it 'gets harder' but if you are willing and able to waste enough of your life on this app to get to the challenging bit then you have too much free time and should be sent to salt mines.]