From the very start of Pax East, it seemed that the Phogs! booth had an endless line of people hoping to get their hands on a demo of this eclectic game. It makes sense. The booth showcases two giant yellow dogs that are joined together CatDog style and each with a happy expression while their tongues hang out of their mouths. The display is a vibrant peek into the game itself.
Developed by Bit Loom Games and published by Coatsink, Phogs! is a fun puzzle game where you play two dogs linked together by their tummy that have to stretch, bark, and bite through challenges across 24 levels and three dog-themed worlds: Food, Sleep, and Play. The two-headed dog is named Red and Blue and they are the cutest doggos to hit the gaming industry.
What’s different about Phogs! is that the team who developed this game created it while they attended Abertay University, Scotland’s “Top Modern” University, where they won the 2017 Dare Academy competition. The contest required them to create a new game “from scratch” in just a few short months. I barely wrote this article in a month so I can’t imagine creating an incredible video game in the span of eight weeks.
Phogs! is a co-op game but it can be played solo. I demoed the game with Jack Sanderson, PR and Events Manager with Coatsink, so I don’t have a hands-on experience of what it’s like to play solo.
The game itself has a vibrant mix of bright colors throughout each level. At the start of Phogs!, you are given a basic tutorial on how the controls work. The controls are simple and it only requires a few buttons to maneuver the dogs through each level, bite objects, and bark.
The challenging part is working together. Some puzzles require both Red and Blue to latch on a knob that waters specific vegetables. Or, perhaps one of the dogs must eat a hot pepper so the other can have flames shoot out of its mouth. Each element of the game is interactive. The villagers can pet the dogs and wave at them as they scurry by. You can eat the food throughout the levels and, since Red and Blue share a tummy, you can get a large stomach very quickly. Each level also has a certain amount of bones to collect that unlocks customizations for your good doggos that include fun hats.
The inspiration for Phogs! seems pretty straightforward. I immediately thought of the Nickelodeon cartoon CatDog that aired from 1998 to 2005 when I saw press photos of the game. Sanderson says that CatDog was part of the inspiration for Phogs! but the main inspirations came from Adventure Time, the Katamari series, and of course, Dark Souls.
I was taken aback at the Dark Souls reference but Sanderson laughed it off. He says the silent storytelling and lore elements from Dark Souls inspired the devs to not have a dialogue. Only peppy music, barking, and happy smiles fill the game. Since Phogs! is from the perspective of Red and Blue, it makes that there’s not an active dialogue between characters. Just pets and food, please. However, just like Dark Souls, Phogs! has hidden secrets to discover. Don’t worry, there are no Undead Soldiers or Assassins in Phogs! (for now).
I walked away from the demo in an incredibly good mood. All I did was laugh while playing Phogs!. I laughed through my frustration with solving a few puzzles, I laughed when the fire coming out of one of the dog’s mouth turned giant corn on the cob into popcorn, and I laughed when both Sanderson and I solved each puzzle. Although you can play this game alone, I highly recommend grabbing a friend or family member. It’s the perfect game for bonding. Phogs! also supports online co-op! So, you can play with your friends all over the world.
Phogs! is a vibrant, beautiful game filled to the brim with fun. It encompasses every aspect of a good doggo. This was my favorite game to demo and I would easily name this my Game of Show for Pax East 2020. I was blown away by the creativity that went into creating this game.
Phogs! will be available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Steam sometime this June. You don’t want to miss out on this game.