PAX East Duo Hand-On: Phogs!

I experienced Phogs by developer Bit Loom Games two years ago at PAX East 2018 when they were housed in the Indie Megabooth, which is cordoned off section for up and coming games still in the works. As was a mere floor-dweller and Rebecca was working out front as an Enforcer for the convention. Back then, their humble booth held a respectable and consistent queue of 3-4 players waiting their turn to get their mitts on such a scintillatingly silly title. Oh, what a difference two years make.

Now, because Rebecca and I played this at the same time, we were fortunate enough to schedule some quality sit-down time with Jack Sanderson, the PR and Events Manager for Coatsink, the platformer’s publisher whilst playing it. This means that though we didn’t have quite an interview, there are a few memorable moments with both the game and Jack to speak about.

First thing’s first. The game is a single or co-op adventure puzzler wherein you play as a duo of doggos, Red and Blue, connected at the hip- literally. Think Cat-Dog (for those of you in the “Nicktoons Know.”) The difference is, unlike the aforementioned cartoon star(s), Red and Blue can streeeetch their conjoined belly in order to work in tandem to complete super fun and creative tasks. This super fun superpower, along with your ability to bark, bite and bounce will take you through three different realms relatable to any calamitous K9: Food, Sleep and Play. Aww! Just thinking about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Beware, however, as your forever flank may help you, but may also be a hindrance at times if you do not work in concert together.

Through the duration of PAX, the line for Phogs’ immense booth (now quadruple in size) was constantly looping around. There was no shortage of attendees, chomping at the bit to get their paws on this glorious looking game. Luckily, Norton and I were allowed to cut the line for this fortuitous opportunity.

Hey, the cob ain’t gonna pop itself!

Robert J. Kijowski: So, we both got a chance to play a game in concert and skip an insane line. Kinda felt extra special, since it was basically crowded the entire fucking weekend.

Rebecca: Yes, though that’s the power of a press pass. As for playing in concert, it was a nice change of pace given the nature of a lot of games are solo.

RJK: Wasn’t Jack the coolest? It was the one time I’ve played a game where we actually didn’t talk about the game that much! We actually diverted discussion into the series, Kidding! He was chill as fuck though. He was all about that Showtime life… as we both were trying to work in tandem with a dual-headed doggo. You kept pushing me in a different direction!

RN: Le sigh. Yes, you and he geeked out. It was a fun game, I wasn’t expecting that. And yes, I pushed you in different directions because you were clearly distracted and not paying attention, which means one head of that “Phogs” “ass” had to have a brain.

RJK: You calling me an ass?

All play and no work makes for the literal best canine life evaaar!

RN: I’m saying every creature has a head and an ass, and as I was clearly directing things, you were the ass. And yea, I get it, it’s a two-headed creature, but one of those heads is vomiting out everything it eats – you can’t beat the laws of nature.

RJK: You also can’t beat how goddamn adorable this game is! Honestly, it was fun playing with you. Oh, and Jack did something we hadn’t experienced with any of the other interviews… He actually gave us food!

RN: Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that, because, you know, I was actually focused on the GAME. I did enjoy how they used the two-headed mechanic (and complete disregard for the laws of biology) to solve problems on your journey to…actually, I’m not entirely sure what the point of the game was.

RJK: The point of the game is to just have fun! Come on, you have to admit, with the physics of Red and Blue to expand and contract, bark, bite and play, it’s just a fucking joy. It brings a smile to my face and working in tandem, with everything like using one another to pop corn to using another as a hose to grow flowers, everything about this game is awesome. And the art style!

RB: Yeah the art style is very nice, it matches the themes and gameplay very well. The puzzles are equally engaging without being too frustrating, though that’s largely up to your partner, you know, paying attention to what you’re trying to do instead of, I don’t know, getting fed some treats and losing his focus to a conversation about a “certain” paid cable program…

RJK: Nicely played. Oh, and through the fun chaos of playing it together, I realized all the people waiting in line were having fun with us, watching us. It’s a rather social game. Fun for those playing as much as those watching.

RN: Well, as a rule, if you’re forced to wait for satisfaction, cognitive dissonance will kick in and you will find satisfaction in watching someone else having the pleasure you’re waiting for.

RJK: Makes perfect sense. So, wrapping this up, I am giving the demo an easy 10 out of 10, sans question. It’s super colorful, super chaotic, super cute.

RN: I’d have to agree, for a game I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy, I had a lot of fun playing it. 10 out of 10 as well.

Sweet dreams, you glorious duo.

P.S. A massive shoutout to Jack Sanderson. One of the coolest dudes ever and super fun to have shared this experience with. 

 

Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

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