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That Dragon Cancer Review Roundup: Gut-punching Weight

That Dragon Cancer review roundup.jpg

Before that Dragon Cancer is a video game it's the true story of a family's struggle to cope with a terminally ill child. The game is classified as "art" and it's not perfect, but it will rip your heart out and leave you with a renewed appreciation for life and your loved ones. Play it.

TL;DR Roundup

  • Eurogamer: a powerful, brave game
  • Kotaku: That Dragon, Cancer is not sappy, and while it’s sad, it’s about hope
  • Gameinformer: both depressing and at times uplifting; it warms as it rends
  • The Verge: nothing has been as hard for me as playing That Dragon, Cancer
  • Metro: That Dragon, Cancer has much to teach video games about conveying emotion and choice
  • AV Club: share the burden of a parent’s grief
  • We Got This Covered: unique, inventive, and often emotional experience
  • Daily Dot: a family's beautiful tribute to faith, loss, and love
  • Destructoid: Beautifully inconsistent
  • Steam reviews: Positive

That Dragon, Cancer review | Eurogamer


a powerful, brave game.

If video games excel at telling stories through the exploration of space, then this is one of their triumphs - a place that's all the more touching for its authenticity. It's that authenticity, that unvarnished honesty, that can give That Dragon, Cancer a gut-punching weight. The faith that helps bind this family together gives That Dragon, Cancer its own stream of optimism: this is a game that's full of hope and of love, a celebration of Joel, rather than anything overly mournful.

That Dragon, Cancer Knocked Me On My Ass | Kotaku


That Dragon, Cancer is not sappy, and while it’s sad, it’s about hope

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. That Dragon, Cancer is not sappy, and while it’s sad, it’s about hope. When I played That Dragon, Cancer, I thought about the people I loved—my wife, my dog, my possible sons and daughters. My dad. The game is two hours, and I don’t know that I could have handled more, but for the time that I did, I’m glad I did.

That Dragon Cancer | Gameinformer


both depressing and at times uplifting; it warms as it rends

I had a hard time playing That Dragon, Cancer, and while it left me more appreciative of my own health and family, I don't know if or who I would recommend the game to. The experience is both depressing and at times uplifting; it warms as it rends. Despite the final message of hope, it's impossible to make peace with a disease that has taken so many, and being forced to confront those feelings takes its toll. All I can say is That Dragon, Cancer is a fitting tribute to a lost child; a way for the Greens to remember and relive their precious time with Joel. That's no small thing to be grateful for.

That Dragon, Cancer | The Verge

The Verge.jpg

nothing has been as hard for me as playing That Dragon, Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer is especially powerful because it’s not a work of fiction. As you explored these spaces and moments, all rendered in a dreamlike blocky art style, you’d hear from Ryan, Joel, Amy, and his brothers, their voices playing over top of the action, and displayed as text on screen. The brief moments of happiness are what make That Dragon, Cancer playable; if they weren’t there I don’t think I could complete the whole thing, even though it’s only two hours long. The dark moments are simply too dark, too real, too close to what I love most. That Dragon, Cancer is a game that will make you want to hug your kids and never let go.

That Dragon, Cancer review |


That Dragon, Cancer has much to teach video games about conveying emotion and choice

In some ways it’s all the more impressive because of its missteps, and the fact that it remains so affecting despite its flaws. That only makes you wonder what else video games could achieve if others were as bravely ambitious as the Greens have been. But most importantly of all it makes you wonder what you’d do in the same situation; against that dragon, cancer.  

That Dragon, Cancer review | AV Club

AV Club.jpg

share the burden of a parent’s grief  

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. That Dragon, Cancer, then, feels like an honest admission that this weight can be overwhelming, that turning this tragedy into something we can all experience is a way to take some of that burden and break it apart into smaller pieces: a piece to keep us from feeling alone in what we must endure, a piece so we can better understand those who struggle. All just little pieces, so no one needs to drown underneath the weight of it.

That Dragon, Cancer review | We Got This Covered


unique, inventive, and often emotional experience.

No matter what people may think of it, I doubt many will deny that it is a very unique and personal labor of love. It’s a game of highs and lows, but when the highs end up being as powerful as previously mentioned, it results in something that I think gamers should give a chance, regardless of preconceived notions.

That Dragon, Cancer review | Daily Dot

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a family's beautiful tribute to faith, loss, and love

The game becomes a set of two important and distinct questions. How can any parent deal with losing a child to cancer, and can you ever, truly make peace with such a thing if you have faith in a merciful God? It also made me think about all the times I’ve taken the same experiences—enjoying time outdoors, being with family, having a happy moment with a pet—for granted, and how lucky I am to have time to make up for that. How lucky I am to have time at all. 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. An understandably personal work, That Dragon, Cancer's sentimental excesses place a minor dent in a powerful, brave game.

That Dragon, Cancer review | Destructoid


Beautifully inconsistent

When Cancer is focusing on telling a direct narrative about a family's life with a son they knew was dying, it truly is an incredible experience. From the ways it conveys the highs and lows of life to the exploration of how Christianity fits into a family expecting bereavement, from the discussions of the future to the enjoyment of the present, it really is an awe inspiringly beautiful experience when it's focused. 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.


You can purchase That Dragon Caner on Steam for R159.

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