How often can you say that you bit the moon, dragged it along with you, and chucked it toward a guitar-playing cricket in exchange for a bone?
Never. You never get to say that, except when you’re playing Phogs! and you’re just a happy little doggie trying to get through the day. Obviously, you’re no ordinary doggo, as Phogs! will have you struggling against either yourself or another player as one end of a two-headed canine ala-Catdog.
No, it’s not a horror game—on the contrary, what may seem like a horrific Frankenstein-esque monster is actually too cute for words, as these “phogs” are magical creatures who take you on equally magical adventures in Food World, Sleep World, and Play World. Those three regions have about seven levels each, and every single one is utterly enchanting.
The three aptly named worlds are also incredibly unique. You need to solve various puzzles that revolve around those three themes, which include everything from bouncing on top of squishy giant pumpkins to helping an owl get its hands (or talons) on a book. Everything is so wonderfully weird, and with the bright, vibrant colors and the light-hearted soundtrack, each playthrough is guaranteed to be an absolute hoot.
And I really, really mean it. The thing about Phogs! is that you can play it alone using both ends of a single controller to control the two heads, but where’s the fun in that? You definitely need to enlist the help of a family member or friend so that you can control one doggo each. You can still use half of a controller each or use two controllers to play. Controls are mind-numbingly simple—there’s one button to bite, one button to stretch, and one-directional button to move around. You can also use the other extra buttons on your controller to send emotes to add to the cuteness factor of the phogs, but that’s it, really. The beauty is in the simplicity, and when you have someone else playing along with you, then that’s where the fun of the game really begins.
The game shines its brightest if you don’t take it too seriously, because at the end of the day, you’re just a good boi having the time of its life in this charming land.
One doggo will inevitably want to go one way while the other will go another, and you will spend hours struggling with your companion as to where you both need to go. The movement of the phogs is, I think, intentionally wonky, so they often don’t end up where you want them to—and that’s part of the fun. You’ll argue, bicker, and laugh out loud with whoever you’re playing with all because you need to get a ball through a hallway or swing across monkey bars from one end of the map to another.
The game is also incredibly smart not to add any button for jumping, so you have to come up with creative ways to get across platforms or to reach higher areas. The Stretch button is particularly useful for when you have one phog biting hard on something to hold on to it and another trying to reach a certain place on the other end.
It actually involves a great deal of strategy, so you can play it as seriously as you want to. Honestly, though, I think the game shines its brightest if you don’t take it too seriously, because at the end of the day, you’re just a good boi having the time of its life in this charming land. I actually think that this must be how dogs view the world around us—that everything is just so wonderful and weird and fun, and you just want to explore everything and bark at whatever comes your way. There are secret collectibles too in the form of golden bones, and I can imagine that the exhilaration I felt each time I unlocked one of these is probably the same kind of exhilaration a dog would feel after discovering a golden bone.
If there’s one complaint I have with Phogs!, it’s that you don’t have the option of controlling the camera angle. Sometimes, you really want to see what’s on the other side, or you need to check out certain angles to know how to solve a puzzle more efficiently. Still, the locked camera is likely intentional to keep controls kid-friendly and to make you focus on more pressing matters at hand, like how to unlock hats you can use to customize your phog.
Speaking of kid-friendly, this game is best played with the little ones. There are no instructions so you’re thrust into a puzzle-filled land right off the bat, but things are actually pretty intuitive. You’re also free to make your own gameplan as to how you’ll get from point A to point B. In one particular instance, we were supposed to bite on a huge beach ball and push it down a slope. Instead, we ended up stretching ourselves to the limit and using our torso to hook the beach ball and pull it down the slope. It obviously wasn’t meant to happen that way, but it was still too darn hilarious not to go through with it all the way down.
PHOGS! Final Thoughts
Overall, Phogs! is nothing else but just pure, good ol’ fun. I can’t remember the last time I played a game and thoroughly enjoyed it the way games are meant to be enjoyed. I literally spent an entire weekend playing this game with the nieces and nephews, and while we couldn’t progress as time-efficiently as we wanted to, we did all end up laughing so hard our stomachs hurt—and if a game can do that for me and my family, then that’s a clear winner in my book.
TechRaptor reviewed Phogs! on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, Stadia, PC, and Xbox.
- Vibrant Art And Catchy Soundtrack
- Laugh-Out-Loud Fun, With Doggos!
- Kid-Friendly Controls For The Whole Family
- Locked Camera Angles