Who doesn’t love cats and dogs in games? For me, I know when they’re in a game, it makes it that much more fun and enjoyable to play. I know I enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII even more when I played it because of the cats I found and because of Rinoa and her faithful dog, Angelo. I always wanted him to appear during a battle just so I could see him defeat some enemies. It was just a tiny part of why I loved that game. When I heard Coatsink was releasing a game where I could play as a dog, I just knew I had to try it out.
In PHOGS! you play as a duo of dogs named Red and Blue that are on a captivating, puzzle-filled adventure. Linked by a stretchy belly, you’ll need to bounce, bite and bark your way through obstacle sets across the themed worlds of Food, Sleep and Play in single-player or co-op. You’ll spend time foraging through Food World, which is teeming with tasty treats.
The controls are a bit of a pain and definitely something the player needs to get used to. This is something I personally didn’t like, and it could be a turn off for some if they play solo. After about 10 minutes of playing, you’ll get somewhat used to the controls, but I had to put the game down a number of times because I felt my hands and fingers cramp up.
When you load the game, the player has to choose between one or two controllers and then has to sync the controller(s) to the game. If one controller is picked, each half of Red and Blue is controlled with each joystick – Red with the left half of the controller and Blue with the right half. L and R buttons are used to bite and bark. If you keep pressing them repeatedly, Red and Blue can jump. The L2 and R2 buttons are used to stretch the beloved duo. The A button and left D-pad (left arrow button on Joy-Cons) makes a sad dog face icon appear above the duo, and the A button along with the left D-pad button (pressing left on the road) makes a happy dog face icon appear. The Y and left buttons along with pressing left on the road makes a derpy dog face appear. And lastly, pressing the X button up on the D-pad and up arrow button brings up an eyeball in pants icon – I don’t really know what to call it, but it looks like an eyeball wearing pants, so that’s what I’m calling it. Pressing the + button brings up a menu that contains continue, respawn, levels, options, online and exit choices. The – zooms in if pressed and held. One feature I really like is if the player(s) don’t move Red and Blue for long, they fall asleep. It’s a great way to get close and take screenshots of the duo.
I like that the player can respawn at anytime when they get stuck. I got stuck near the beginning when I had to jump on a platform, but I somehow got stuck inside of it and couldn’t move, so I respawned a few steps away from it. Also, at times I only controlled one half of the body when one of my fingers got cramped, and when the back half got stuck, I again respawned.
What can I say about the graphics? The game world has a relaxing environment, like the soundtrack. It’s easy to feel the sleep and play aspect while going around solving the puzzles with vibrant colors. I like the way Blue and Red travel to different areas in the world. There are these dinosaur heads that the player has to make yawn by making Red and Blue go through their mouths and down their throats, which act somewhat like pipes connecting the areas. In one of the areas, Red and Blue have to light up the area to complete it (as well as collecting bones), which has a majestic fishing scene worth seeing all of the details that have been done. All around the world, there are beds and toys for Red and Blue to take cute pictures with. This is one aspect of the game I really enjoyed because it made me have a bit more fun seeing what I can do and where I can go with the stretchy dogs on their adventures and seeing if I can find all of the collectibles.
The soundtrack in PHOGS! is soothing and relaxing. It’s definitely worth getting just for the music. If you had a bad day, just put the game on and have the soothing soundtrack calm you down. I for one found myself having the game on a lot every day just for that reason. The soundtrack really does help make the game feel like a platformer puzzle game that can be played any time for relaxation.
PHOGS! isn’t that difficult and is an enjoyable experience once you get used to the controls, and after some time you would forget about any other things you might have to do once you’ve been taken into this very relaxing and calming game that you can finish in a day. Also, if you are someone who has trouble sleeping, put the game on and listen to the soundtrack. PHOGS! is a game any kind of gamer can enjoy – whether you like puzzle platformer games or not. I’d definitely recommend it, but remember to take breaks from it and do some hand stretches to avoid cramps.
Developer: Bit Loom Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia
Release Date: 3rd December 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of PHOGS! was provided by the publisher.