Hands-On: PHOGS!

Hands-On: PHOGS!

by March 30, 2019

Who doesn’t like dogs, right? Last year, we gave you a look at PHOGS!, an adorable indie game featuring two happily-legless dogs connected by a jelly belly. Developer Bit Loom and publisher Coatsink brought a new demo of the game to this year’s PAX East, and we had the chance to catch up with the game and see what’s new.

Unlike last year’s demo, which featured a multitude of environments, this year’s demo focuses on a dreamy, nighttime world with plenty of related gimmicks. PHOGS!, which is a portmanteau of Physics Dogs, has a unique control scheme where two players can each control one dog, or one player can control both dogs with the same controller – left dog on the left shoulder buttons and thumbstick, right dog on the right shoulder buttons and thumbstick. The core gameplay of PHOGS! centers around the dogs’ ability to stretch out from each other, grab things with their mouths, and drag them around the map. In this dream world, that usually means dragging a cute, smiling ball of light to one or more objectives that will allow you to progress. When one of the dogs grabs the light ball, the other dog turns into a flashlight, allowing you to break down walls of darkness, create light bridges, and open paths to the next area. The dogs can also grab walking alarm clocks; you can move these toward sleeping bears to wake them up, or drag them away from alert bears to make them fall asleep, and these actions open more of the level up.

One thing that hasn’t changed since last year is the game’s spot-on presentation. The soft graphical assets suit the world of PHOGS! perfectly, and you can’t help but want to reach through the screen and pet the dogs. The dogs stretch and bounce around the map without a care in the world, and you can make them bark and yip, which is hilarious and adorable all at once. Other objects in the world are bursting with personality as well; the alarm clocks blare and run around with a shocked expression on their face, while the big teddy bears act like gentle giants, only wanting to sleep and dream undisturbed.

All of this lends the game a very happy, playful feel, and the relatively simple puzzles make this a very relaxing game that’s sure to put you in a good mood. According to publisher Coatsink, the game is aimed at a slightly younger audience, but players of all ages should have smiles on their faces when they start throwing their dogs around the bright, bouncy world. PHOGS! is set for release next year, with specific dates and platforms to be announced.