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Make no mistake: The game is a bruising experience. It fully commits to sharing a hard, unsentimental exploration of what it means to watch your child suffer, and ultimately succumb to illness. That Dragon, Cancer is smart about presenting that tragedy through a series of stylistically disparate interactions to prevent itself from becoming dull or numbing.
[Note: This review contains spoilers] I've been wondering when a game would make me cry, and that changed over the weekend. A few games have made me teary eyed, but that's about it. That Dragon, Cancer not only made me weep, but I had to stop playing it a few times.
For every high concept, there's this underlying truth that grounds That Dragon, Cancer: the battle the Greens are facing is not the mere act of mourning, but how to mourn. Amy turns to God, while Ryan struggles with God. They get in fights, then reunite, then fight again. At the same time, you're coming in and out of the picture as the curious and helpless observer as they plead to God, each other, and Joel. When it came time for the credits to roll, I couldn't help but appreciate the game and the story the Greens want to tell the world.
That Dragon, Cancer is the best of games. It reveals to us what it means to be a fellow human being finding the strength to survive terrible circumstances. It shares through words, pictures, sounds and actions. The actions give us a sense of the pain of others. They show, rather than tell. This story is unique in that it tackles the most dreaded of human experiences in the form of a video game. If you play this game, it may change you.
It's a slow paced game that can be difficult to watch at times but if you want a strong story and all the feels, then this is the one to turn to. It pushes the boundaries of games as art and it's genuinely the most emotional game I've ever played and I can't recommend it enough. Keep Kleenex nearby.
With the emotionally draining effect that That Dragon, Cancer will have on you in mind, I'd still implore you to play it. If only to further understand the harm that cancer brings, not only to those diagnosed with the disease, but to their family and loved ones too.
he Green family's interactive memoir dedicated to their son's battle cancer is not just a video game—it is a work of art. The way that Numinous Games has chosen to tell the story is absolutely superb. That Dragon, Cancer is something everyone should experience for themselves.
That Dragon, Cancer is a difficult thing to approach. It is barely meant to be fun. It is dark and occasionally deeply disturbing, but that's because it has to be. It is also full of hope and love.
That Dragon, Cancer is an emotional powerhouse that doesn't hold anything back; it's a hard game to get through with dry eyes. Narratively it will please those who are looking for a game that allows the player to explore a game world, linear as it is, that merges together perfectly with the game design.
Seldom does a game come around so powerful that it leaves a long-lasting impact on the player. An experience so dramatic, that is forces those who played it to reflect on their own lives in the real world, outside of the game. That Dragon, Cancer is that game. That Dragon, Cancer is a two hour-ish click adventure game that you can play on PC via Steam or iOS device around $10. That Dragon, Cancer focuses more on narrative than it does gameplay, a trend that has led many titles being dubbed as walking simulators (some positively, others not so much). That Dragon, Cancer however is one walking simulator you should play. It’s true, there is not much more to do in That Dragon, Cancer besides walking around and interacting (point & click) with objects. In the short time you’ll play the game you will encounter a curveball here and there that spices up the fun. Whether it is a kart race around a room, some interesting puzzles to crack or a side-scrolling retro platformer, there are parts in the game that add enough interaction to warrant That Dragon, Cancer classified as a video game and not just a visual novel.
A moving and incredibly poignant game, that succeeds in what it's trying to accomplish despite its many missteps. If you're into interactive narration, you should definitely give it a try.
Review in Italian | Read full review
The Greens tell a brave story with That Dragon, Cancer. Joel Green's life may have been short, but it was an important, beautiful life that's now being shared with the world.
Although perceptibly divisive in execution and theme, it becomes difficult to imagine an individual that would experience That Dragon, Cancer and not feel richer and better off for having been immersed in its bittersweet storytelling as the end credits roll. While some might be understandably put off by the slim pickings of traditional genre fare on offer here, That Dragon, Cancer staunchly remains as an experience that everybody should let into their lives regardless.
While it's far from the typical video game adventure, That Dragon, Cancer is a reminder that games can be so much more than just wish-fulfillment power fantasies. It's an important and unforgettable experience, full of pain, love and grace.
Although not every part of That Dragon, Cancer works, it's a crushingly intimate game that left me thankful for the people who are still in my life, and reflective on those who are not. I'm so grateful to the Greens for sharing their experience.
The representation of a familly dealing with the protracted illness of a child is well done, but wasn't as interesting to me as the exploration of faith that was inextricably woven into it.
That Dragon, Cancer is a game that you will lose. You will not beat it. You don't win. Even This War of Mine has "winning" conditions. It is so fitting that this is a game, not a movie. From the jilting scene transitions to selective interactions, the dioramic games within the game to the increased level of abstraction and perspective changes, the mode of storytelling works. But it mostly excels at being a lesson that as much as you can "game-ify" elements of life, you will be confronted with perma-death—real death.
So, from a subjective standpoint, I would argue that, despite not being a great product, That Dragon, Cancer is still very good at what it does – forging a link with its audience and delivering a love-filled, mercilessly sad, story. It's being sold as a product, it should be criticized for that, but it should also be praised for the things it does so very well.
That Dragon, Cancer does not excel in its gameplay, but the story of Joel Green is one that players will remember for a while. This is as genuine as storytelling gets in video games.
The emotional core of That Dragon, Cancer is real—so real, in fact, and so personal, that I ended up feeling like an outsider looking in. I pitied the Greens for having to endure this awful series of events, but I did not come away feeling connected to their experience, or enlightened by it. This was not because the game tried but failed to connect with me, but because it didn't.
The minimalistic approach and slow pace That Dragon, Cancer takes won't appeal to everyone, but it does contain some fiercely moving moments and a very unique overall experience.
Story of a kid who passed away because of cancer, it is impossible not to cry while playing this game. It's a bitter experience for those who don't know anything about this dragon (cancer). Hats off to those patient and brave families who are victims of this dragon.
Review in Persian | Read full review