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Phogs! Review: Better Than A Three-Eyed Frog Phogs! Review: Better Than A Three-Eyed Frog

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Phogs! Review: Better Than A Three-Eyed Frog

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Phogs! provides an effortlessly charming adventure that will expand the imagination of youngsters and inspire the warm and fuzzies in their parents.

Phogs!, a new puzzle adventure from Bit Loom Games and Coatsink, is a brief respite from the modern AAA blockbusters, located firmly in the colorful past of video gaming history. While absolutely aimed towards children, both those young and young at heart will find a lot to love with this conjoined dog.

Red and Blue are two dog heads on one stretchy dog body, and they need the help of one or two players in order to traverse three worlds based on the core facets of a dog’s life. Play, food, and sleep are all represented in surreal dreamscape worlds that are only fully explorable thanks to the ability to bite and stretch, as well as a few other curious abilities gained along the way. Each level introduces something novel, and the difficulty can scale wildly as players progress. Worlds start off with levels that practically play themselves and end with tricky situations that require some gaming acumen.

Phogs! is a two-player game at its best, with each player controlling one head and adding to the navigational chaos. Tandems can also choose to play the game on a single controller, with each thumbstick, pairing with the appropriate trigger and bumper to fully control a single head. This experience works surprisingly well, especially for family and friends who want to play something novel. Players can also link up their dog online, with the game implementing a quartet of emotes for communication purposes. These faces are more funny than useful in some cases, so voice chat is also highly recommended. Single players can take on the game by controlling both heads on a single gamepad, but that does make some segments later on in each world more complicated than they were probably meant to be.

No matter the setup, Phogs! provides a great ramp for learning mechanics while also giving players plenty of room to goof around. Each level has rooms and hidden areas that don’t help forward progress but act as toys to mess around with. Some of these can produce collectibles while others are simply prime spots to take a dog selfie. The whole game implements the same soft, simplistic art style and playful nature as the works of Keita Takahashi. Whereas a previous generation might have replayed the first world of Crash Bandicoot for years before finally finishing it later in life, it’s easy to see a new gamer run through the majority of Phogs! multiple times, finding new secrets hidden away on each run.

Players will want to explore too, as each new locale on display feels downright comfy. A special shoutout must be made to the levels focused on the arcade aesthetic in Play World, as they will evoke amazing feelings of hearth and home for anyone fortunate enough to have grown up when Chuck E. Cheese and its competitors were still thriving businesses. In a world that seems less and less likely to have a place for giant neon-colored rooms with video game machines, the brief time rolling through these levels and noticing all the little details really tugged at the heartstrings.

Phogs! will likely offer the experienced player a good ten hours of playtime, as they’ll have seen most of these tricks done in other puzzle games. There is a novelty in the way Bit Loom Games makes players think and rethink navigation with a two-headed dog, but there’s nothing that’s going to challenge anyone. However, Phogs! seems designed to be a child’s favorite toy as they grow up, and that’s a real joy. While adults who can appreciate a brief vacation from reality will have some fun here, animal-loving kids and their parents will almost certainly adore their deep dive into a charming land of balloon men, pinball, and oh so many treats.

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