In PHOGS! you play as a duo of dogs in a puzzle-like adventure. Connected by an elastic stomach, you must bark, bite and bounce your way through the obstacles encountered in the thematic worlds of Eat, Sleep and Play. Is the game worth it or is developer Bit Loom Games going to miss the catch?
Welcome to the world of PHOGS!, where life is all about eating, sleeping and playing. You control two inseparable dog heads, Red and Blue. They are connected by an elastic body, just like Cat and Dog in the popular cartoon series CatDog. Use the directional sticks to control each head independently, and the L and R buttons can be used to grab, eat or bark. Finally, by holding down the ZL or ZR button, you can stretch the body to comical proportions. With these simple controls, it’s up to you to traverse the worlds solving all kinds of puzzles where you use your skills.
The three main themes are represented by three worlds, each with six levels to traverse. The three different worlds each offer a unique environment and are well put together. In the sleep world you will encounter beds, sleepy cuddly toys and night lamps in an environment built of mattresses and pillows. As you make your way through the food world you will encounter all kinds of tasty snacks and find houses made of giant corn on the cob, oranges and broccoli. The toy world is my favorite place: with a beachside theme park and retro arcade complete with mini games, music and other activities, it was the most interactive world to walk through.
By making smart use of your environment, you solve puzzles to play out the linear worlds. Yet there is also something to do for the explorers: in every level there are hidden bones and a so-called boingle that you can only find if you go every nook and cranny of the worlds. The collected bones can be exchanged for masks, helmets and other headgear for Red and Blue, while the boingles take their place in the hub world to represent your achievements. Although there is no story and the various characters you encounter in the world have no dialogues, the game manages to capture the imagination with the softly designed characters and environments. In that respect, the visual style fits in well with the gameplay and the lack of a storyline is also not a big loss.
You can play the game together with someone else via a second person on the couch or Nintendo Switch Online. Each player then controls one head of the elastic duo and that regularly results in hilarity when one player drags the other along to explore the world. Still, it’s not always amusing: for some puzzles, some timing and coordination is important, and if you don’t communicate this properly, it can cause some frustration because you are so dependent on each other. I can also imagine that when playing online the delay between the two players will not help with puzzles where you have to be fast or precise. Fortunately, these puzzles are often only relevant to the collectibles, so you can generally continue with the rest of the game if you really have difficulty with them.
PHOGS! is a great fun puzzle adventure with colorful worlds to explore and great looks. Although a fairly linear game, there are still plenty of collectibles to find that will reward you for exploring every nook and cranny. The entire game can also be played in co-op, together on the couch or online, which often evokes hilarious scenes. Still, in multiplayer it can sometimes be a bit frustrating that you are literally stuck together, but if you do not find the collectibles that interesting or communicate well with each other, it will not cause many problems.
PHOGS! is an adorable and good looking puzzle adventure that will make you want to be a dog yourself! Great to play together if you communicate while playing.