4 Pics 1 Word is a new iOS and Android game from German developer Lotum. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries additional in-app purchases of in-game currency.
4 Pics 1 Word is a very simple game at heart that explains almost everything players need to know from its title alone. Players are presented with a series of four related good quality stock photographs (which can be tapped on to see a larger version with the photographer’s credit) and must guess the word that connects all of them. To make this process a little easier, players are told how many letters are in the word in question and given a selection of letters with which to spell out the answer, similar to the system seen in titles like Draw Something.
If players are really struggling to answer a question, they have several options. Firstly, they can connect with Facebook (which requires login via a popup window rather than the external app or iOS 6+’s built-in social features), post the image and the available letters to their Timeline and wait for a friend to help them out. There is no limit on how many times the player may do this, as it serves as the game’s main means of viral promotion.
Secondly, they may use in-game currency to purchase a “bomb” item which either reveals a single letter of the answer or, for slightly more expenditure, removes several incorrect letters from the board. The player does not have anywhere near enough in-game currency to use these items at the start of the game, so this is a very obvious nudge in the direction of the in-app purchase facility — though coins can be earned through normal play. Just to make this a little more obvious, pausing for more than about ten seconds on a single question causes the bomb icon to start bouncing up and down every few seconds, making an obnoxious little “beep” noise each time if sound is turned on.
That’s essentially all there is to 4 Pics 1 Word. There’s no means of “failing” and having to start again — entering an incorrect answer simply requires that the player try again with no penalty — and no social features beyond the ability to ask for help on Facebook. There’s no real competitive element, meaning that the game as a whole is little more than an idle timewaster to fill quiet moments.
It’s proven to be a popular idle timewaster, though, despite its simplicity — at the time of writing, it’s sitting atop both the iPhone and iPad Free Apps charts, and on Android it’s sitting at the No. 3 spot in the Games chart. Its appeal is in its pick-up-and-play nature and simplicity, and that’s a good means of attracting a wide audience — it just would have perhaps been nice to see a little more depth to its gameplay for those who prefer to play more competitively.
You can follow 4 Pics 1 Word’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
Worth a look to see what appears to be the latest mobile gaming craze in the short term, but ultimately lacking in any substance.