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That Dragon, Cancer

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7.8

Good

Game Reviews from around the web

100

It expands the boundaries of what peoples’ idea of video games are; they’re not just sadistic shoot ‘em ups or mind-numbing ridiculousness. Sometimes they’re real life; they’re heartbreaking and devastating. If for no other reason than that, That Dragon, Cancer deserves your attention.

100

A rollercoaster ride of emotions that made me laugh and cry in near equal measure.

100

Like any good art That Dragon, Cancer redefines the boundaries of its genre. This is creativity unfettered, matched in weight only by the likes of The Last of Us. However, where that game told a similarly heartbreaking story, there is no need here to perpetuate preconceived ideas. Shooting had to continue one way or another in Naughty Dogs tour de force, but here even assumptions about God don’t have to perpetuate indefinitely.

100

Will I ever understand such faith? No. But now I understand how much it can help people through something so unspeakably tragic. While nothing can ever bring back their little boy, I am glad the Greens had that faith. And I am glad they were brave enough to share it with us.

100

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.

100

If there’s any message in That Dragon, Cancer that ought to be universal to anyone who plays the game, it’s that time is precious.

95

I cannot recommend this to everyone because of the sheer difficulty of the experience, but I nonetheless challenge anyone who has lost a loved one or faced great trouble in their life to take this journey, share in human togetherness with the Greens and their friends, and observe the beauty that blossomed from the life and death of Joel Green.

90

Crucially, every emotional breakthrough, every new revelation, every gut-stab of a memory in That Cancer, Dragon must be discovered, confronted, and processed, as it undoubtedly had to be in the minds of its creators as it happened.

87

Steven Spielberg once said that games could only become a true storytelling art form when they manage to make you cry. This game will.

85

An extremely personal game which confronts cancer head on, it shines brightest when telling its story and examining the effects of grief.

80

Daunting, exhausting and consuming confession of parents about living with the knowledge of inevitable death of their young son does not offer the challenge in terms of gameplay, but empathy. [Issue#262]

LEVEL (Czech Republic)

80

All that needs to be known is this is a beautiful, affecting and emotionally challenging title that acts as a truly fine love letter and monument to a lost loved one. It will open eyes and it will help people with their very real grief, and because of that it is a success.

80

The most successful episodes find ways to hold us captive. [March 2016, p.122]

Edge Magazine

80

Emotionally-charged experience, that avoids the clichés of playing on emotions, isn´t, the biggest success of That Dragon, Cancer. Even more astonishing is the coherent form, playful linking of the game genres and creative imagination of the authors. Is it a game at all? Who cares when you get such satisfactory piece of art…

80

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.

80

Aside from its control scheme, That Dragon, Cancer is one of the essential experiences of 2016. The masterful way it conveys its story of grief and loss brings a tear to the eye and makes it impossible not to empathize with its protagonists.

80

This is a brave, important experience, and one that feels like a form of therapy for the creators. That Dragon, Cancer is truly unforgettable.

80

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.

80

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.

80

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.

80

That Dragon, Cancer shows how video games can create empathy, both through the simple method of allowing the player to experience unfamiliar situations – and by twisting what is real and not-real within them. It’s cut through with human resilience and humour but ultimately defined by a determination to leave a mark on a little boy’s behalf – something to show he was here, and real, and mattered. An unforgettable experience.

80

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.

80

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.

80

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.

80

Tears don’t lie. That Dragon, Cancer isn’t flawless, but is certainly a unique experience as it makes us genuinely and almost instantly connect with the Green Family. And it will, for sure, make you think about people about whom you care.

80

One of those games that transcend its own nature to become something more… almost art. This is the best way to make Joel immortal.

75

An almost impossible game to evaluate with objectivity and using “standard” rules: the gameplay is truly basic, and the story can be as touching as your personal sensitivity to a very delicate and serious matter.

75

That Dragon, Cancer tells a valuable story despite its uneven delivery.

75

Ironically, if it had tried to be less of a game, it would have been a much better game.

75

That Dragon, Cancer is a beautiful experience, if one that would have benefited considerably from having content cut to improve the flow, pacing and tone.

71

Numinous Games’ That Dragon, Cancer does not suffer from this problem; the pain feels real, the sadness is authentic. This is not surprising given that the game is undisguised autobiography: Ryan and Amy Green created it as a meditation on their family’s journey as their son Joel was treated for and eventually killed by brain cancer.

70

From the eyes of a consumer I can say that this is a wonderful re-telling of a family’s bravery and strength. That Dragon, Cancer tries its best to represent such a difficult subject in an approachable manner that’s neither inappropriately light-hearted, nor depressing, and they do a good job with it.

70

A very brave attempt to use video games to inspire empathy and share grief over one of the most sensitive subjects imaginable.

70

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.

62

There are two sides to That Dragon, Cancer. There is the tragedy of small Joel Green, who was killed by one of the most insidious sicknesses on the planet. I feel for him and his parents. But then there is also the game that was born from this tragedy. And it is simply and quite literally too much of a pain to play.

60

That Dragon, Cancer tells a beautiful story in the most human way possible and the flaws the game does have can’t take away from that fact.

60

Like inventing and describing a new color, That Dragon, Cancer tries to describe something indescribable, and does an admirable job of it.

50

This is a challenging and admirable project. But it isn’t an admirable game. Or good storytelling, since there can be no trace found of development of consistent continuation of thoughts. I applaud Ryan Green’s courage to deal with his personal pain in this way, but nonetheless I feel excluded.

3

This should go down in textbooks on marketing as an example of how you can monetize the death of your own kid. [Issue#206, p.72]

Game World Navigator Magazine

Game Reviews from around the web

While it’s not new for indie and experimental games take on ambitious, emotional concepts and existential crises, never has one come along that has been so frank, so nakedly autobiographical, and so imbued with its creators’ spiritual identities.

That Dragon, Cancer is an important game because it tries, but not because it succeeds.

That Dragon, Cancer is smart about presenting that tragedy through a series of stylistically disparate interactions to prevent itself from becoming dull or numbing.

Summary

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.
7.8

Good

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