Canine Interest You In Some Doggos?
HIGH Buying all new hats and accessories for the dogs.
LOW Finding out I was almost at the end of the game.
WTF A very weird bug that stretched my dogs to infinity (and beyond!)
Believe it or not, videogames can be simple affairs. Even though they frequently offer countless buttons to remember, moves to learn and strategies to analyze, simply amusing oneself doesn’t require all of this. Phogs! grasps simplicity and embraces it. With just two sticks and buttons, it’s the most entertaining title I’ve played in months.
Phogs! is a co-op puzzle adventure where the player moves a two-headed dog, and each head is controlled by a separate analogue stick. It’s a genius idea which makes co-op possible even with a single controller — a setup that enables crazed, close sessions of doggo action.
While each head is controlled by a stick, shoulder buttons act as ‘grab’ and ‘bark’ (which is also used for a small jump). The dogs’ movement feels appropriately spongy as they can extend their body sausage-style, but still remains fairly realistic, with a mostly-solid physics engine. It might take a while to get the basics down and playing with another person will also mean learning to communicate in order to correctly steer the dogs towards the end of each level, but it all works.
In each section, the dogs will have to solve various puzzles in order to progress, most of them involving the use of various items — actions like using water to inflate a pumpkin to jump on, lighting up an area to use a bridge, or successfully completing a series of minigames. The challenges are extremely varied and there’s a great amount of content to be discovered.
While the first few levels are on the easy side, the difficulty slowly ramps up as the dogs progress. For added challenge, it’s possible to hunt down golden bones hidden throughout the stages. These can be used as currency to buy new hats and accessories for the doggos, but they also represent a serious test of reflexes and intuition. The play isn’t punitive here, though — there are no lives or health bars in Phogs!, so perils like falling off the edge of a level will just reset the player a few seconds behind.
Graphically, Phogs! explodes with loud colors, a fairy-tale vibe and ultra-cute animations. The sound effects are also extremely memorable, even though a bouncier soundtrack would have gone better with the crazy adventure.
There isn’t really a story to Phogs! but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The whole experience is overflowing with light-hearted, family-friendly energy which makes it ideal to play with children or as a perfect pick-me-up for the current times.
Anyone who’s after a colorful and quirky puzzle-platformer that just oozes personality, charm and cuteness will probably have a blast with Phogs!, and if there are kids around, then it’s absolutely recommended. Those who give it a shot will find inventive puzzles and charm galore — it’s an exquisite canine treat for humans to enjoy!
— Damiano Gerli
Disclosures: This game is developed by Bit Loom Games and published by Coatsink. It is currently available on PS4, XBO, PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated E by the ESRB for Comic Mischief and Mild Fantasy Violence. I recommend parents play Phogs! with the kids as soon as they’re able to use a controller, they’re sure to have a blast with the fantasy content.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no story and the few objectives given by other characters are shown via images, so Phogs! is definitely fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls are not remappable. In co-op mode with separate controllers, one stick moves one dog head and the shoulder buttons bark/jump (L1 or R1) and stretch the body (L2 or R2). In same-controller co-op, the DualShock is divided — the left stick and L1/L2 for one head, and the right stick and R1/R2 for the other head.