Phogs! is a hugely charming title, but it also has far more depth than you’d think. Especially considering it’s focused around a two headed bendy dog thing.
A puzzle platformer, the unique twist comes with the fact that you have to control a dog with two heads (named Red and Blue) – with each head at one end of a sausage-like body that you can contort and stretch at will.
You control the two dog heads separately via the two analogue sticks, and have to use this bizarre character to overcome various obstacles across three distinct worlds.
The controls are where a game like this would usually come undone, but Phogs! constantly surprises you at how easy it is to manoeuvre Red and Blue around. Biting onto objects – an essential mechanic used throughout – is simple, tactile, and never awkward either.
It’s helped by level design that’s gentle in nature, but it never feels too babyish or simplistic – it’s just the right level of challenge to avoid feeling insulting. Puzzles never take a frustrating amount of time to solve, but there’s a good number you won’t breeze through either.
The intuitive controls really come into their own in the two player mode though, which sees you and a friend controlling a head each.
Despite technically controlling the same character, it rarely feels frustrating working together – something that’s quite rare even in cooperative games that see you as two different entities.
What elevates Phogs! above just a strange concept executed well is the effort that’s been put into making it all as charming an experience as possible though.
It’s refreshing to see the developers took an oddball idea – which could have easily ended up being one note – and just ran with it, squeezing the most out of the concept that they could.
In an industry where so many indie titles often catch the eye with an intriguing concept then quickly lose steam after a few minutes of play it’s great to a game like Phogs! hit it out of the park.
There are moments here that will stick with you, which makes the perhaps slightly high price worth it.
Rowing a boat with Red and Blue controlling a oar each is a cool idea for instance, but making it a vessel that’s sailing through the night sky while a beetle passenger plays a soothing tune on a mandolin? That’s the type of thing you really remember.
Phogs! is an experience like no other, and one we’d recommend everyone to try – especially if you can rope in a friend.