They always say that two heads are better than one and in the case of PHOGS! it’s hard not to agree with that statement. Part puzzler, part physics-based playground and all cute, PHOGS! is a delightfully cheery and bright little game that’s at its best when sharing the fun with another player.
When you describe PHOGS! it may not sound like the most charming of ideas – after all, it does see you playing as a two-headed dog named red and blue with no arms or legs and able to stretch itself to elastic band-levels of length – but seeing it in action is a completely different story. The game has such a delightful pastel-like quality to it while it’s hard not to smile at the lead characters themselves.
PHOGS! plays out like a puzzler with very light (and loose) platformer elements. You take control of both sides of the cute little creature, each head able to bark, wiggle about and bite onto objects. The two dogs even have the ability to stretch out their sausage-like body to alarming lengths and snap back to their original smaller size. The game can be played alone or with another online or locally. The former option proved a totally competent way to play the game albeit a tricky and at times fiddly one as the player uses the left and right side of the controller to control each dog.
It should come as little surprise, but co-op is where this game feels at its best. Where solving a puzzle alone and having to fulfil the roles of both red and blue can drag the pacing down, having a teammate to halve the workload and help in figuring out a solution definitely makes for a more enjoyable time. Of course, you can expect shenanigans and a little chaos as you both try to manoeuvre red and blue and work as a single unit but it only serves to make the game funnier.
The game is split out into three different worlds – sleep, play and food – each of these splintering off into a half dozen levels and a boss. Visually each world is an absolute delight on the eyes not to mention truly unique. Take the sleep world, for instance, an environment sporting a calming purple palette whereas the play world swings more for a wacky and exciting vibe. Exploring what each has to offer proves to be a delightful process, at least when the puzzles you’re solving are enjoyable that is.
There are times when PHOGS! throws some truly inventive and satisfying problems your way that only become more fun when solving them with another person in tow. With your limited repertoire of moves, the game manages to get a fair number of miles out of them whether that’s biting onto a fountain of water and passing it through the dogs’ body and out the other side or hang on to the environment in order to swing across gaps. The play world, in particular, housed some of the game’s best moments seeing you working your way through arcade machines, mini-golf and other enjoyable mini-games.
PHOGS! struggles to maintain that high level of excitement in its puzzle design throughout its adventure though with ideas repeated in some cases or dragging on a little too long. There were a number of times where solutions to puzzles felt rather uninspired and worse still, weren’t that fun to actually solve, a good number of these coming from the sleep world. While the good definitely outweigh the bad, it’s these lull moments that prevent PHOGS! from reaching its true potential. I would have definitely preferred if the game leaned more into the surprising ideas seen in the play world that’s for sure.
While we enjoyed our time with PHOGS!, we did run into a number of instances where our doggies would get caught on pieces of the environment or even react in some rather odd ways physics-wise. Rarely was it ever game-breaking – and if I’m being perfectly honest, some of the buggy physics moments actually were rather funny – but it’s annoying nonetheless.
PHOGS! is a bright, colourful and highly charming game that will no doubt create a big smile from simply absorbing its cutesy world. The gameplay, unfortunately, can stumble due to its repetition and uneven levels of creativity in terms of puzzles. Still, if you’re looking for an enjoyable co-operative time with two adorable dogs then PHOGS! has you covered.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Coatsink Software