PHOGS! is a stylised puzzle game with a unique approach to co-op. You play as a two-headed dog, known as a PHOG. This can be done alone using one half of the controller for each dog, in the style of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Preferably, it can be split between two players. Each controlling a head and a set of paws. This simple mechanic is thrown into a colorful world of physics puzzles to make a memorable entry in the couch co-op renaissance.

PHOGS! is due to launch on consoles and PC early next year. Typical gameplay involves each of the heads competing against the level design, and each other, to reach the goal. There’s also some platforming, traditional puzzles, collectibles, and enemies in the mix. How did the two dogs become fused together? It’s probably not important, try not to think about it. Instead, they navigate a charming abstract world, one cute enough to match its protagonist.

PHOGS Are Made of Elastic

PHOGS!

Controlling your PHOG has an intuitive and smooth feel, despite being driven by two separate people. You’ll have access to the head and body for a single side. The mouth can grab objects and pull them around, or tether itself to something by holding on. You can move around with the paws. Each side can move fairly independently of the other, so It doesn’t require constant coordination. A gelatinous middle section stretches and contorts to allow each player some freedom while keeping you attached at the hip.

The PHOG can become elongated, from this stretching. Do this too much and the heads will spring back together. This can have manipulated, stretching yourself out gives the other head a spring into the air while being pulled sharply backward. This sort of physics fun opens the gameplay up for experimentation. Most puzzles require both heads to be contributing to solving the problem.  You’re still free to move your half of the PHOG in whatever way you want, usually to the detriment of your partner.

The world of PHOGS! has a lot of character. The inhabits match the cartoony nature of your double dog hero, making the bizarre feel at home. Level design seems centered around the everyday life of a dog, exploded into an Adventure Time like representation. This keeps it quite abstract but you can see bigger themes of ordinary dog life.

How Far Can PHOGS! Stretch?

PHOGS!

The big question prior to seeing more of PHOGS! is how well it will translate to a full title. The levels contain a variety of puzzles and platforming, but the build currently being shown off definitely skews more toward the puzzles. Specifically, the type of level design suited to only solving one puzzle and moving on. Hopefully, the final game will take more advantage of the possibilities for other styles of play. Some of the most fun to be had with the game is using the control system to mess around. Such as using the spring effect when pulling back and forth to propel one head up some of the scenery.

Areas shown are big enough to include some aspects of hidden areas and exploration. However, it does seem like these early levels lean more heavily on single-purpose puzzles. One per level. Developers hope to include around 30 levels and even some boss fights, so hopefully the premise will be taken as far it’ll go. While the control scheme and interaction really is unique, restricting its use to single puzzle levels seems like a waste. The highlight of PHOGS! is definitely the experience while playing. For two people it’s the kind of Co-Op that you can either sit down and logically work through every section or spend hours inconveniencing the other head at every opportunity. Hopefully, the finished product carries on this experience.

PHOGS! is starting in a great position. The two-headed co-op is a really fun experience and a unique way to play. If the game delivers on this sense of fun and fresh take on couch co-op, it’ll be a must play.

Jordan Ashley

Jordan Ashley

Jordan Ashley lives in the middle of the UK with two dogs who routinely beat him on Mario Kart. He's a big fan of playing Wind Waker over and over again while ignoring all other tasks. He also likes Craft Beer and screaming at Splatoon.
Jordan Ashley