That Dragon, Cancer is an “experience” type game that was made by Numinous Games. This small game developer includes Ryan and Amy Green. The inspiration for the game comes from the experiences Ryan and Amy Green had while raising their son Joel, who at just one year old was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The game goes through the different feelings that Ryan and Amy were feeling while they raised their son who they knew would eventually pass away. While his cancer was terminal, Joel lived 4 years after he was diagnosed.
When I heard of this game and its emotional description, I knew that this game would hit close to home for me as someone who has lost a family member to cancer. I’m sure that all of us have lost someone close to us because of cancer so this game will touch on a lot of different feelings for everyone. The way the story jumps from one scene to another is very powerful. You will be walking down a hospital hallway one moment and looking out the destroyed facade of the building into the dark, cruel world another moment. The scenes like this are some of the ones that make this walkthrough experience so powerful.
The gameplay of this game is great. The movements all seem natural and the way you interact with people and objects throughout that game all seem very straight forward. The entire game and story is all pretty straight forward. It is very linear in the sense that there is no doubt which direction the player should be going throughout the entire game. While in most games I would think that this was a terrible decision on the developers part, I feel like this works very well in this game.
While there is mainly only one way for you to go the entire time, there is a lot of things for you to interact with and look at. There is one scene in particular where you are on a lake and there are a bunch of messages in a bottle. Each message is a shout out or note to someone specifically. All of the notes have one thing in common. They are all related to a loss from cancer. While this may seem very depressing, it is actually very heart-warming and inspirational to see that all these people got to be heard for the similar experiences they’ve gone through.
The graphics for this game are very good for the type of game it is. I could easily see this game being just as good without it being as graphically pleasing. While the game is mostly about the experience and not the graphics, I think they did a fantastic job with the graphics. Everything was interesting for me to look at. From the beginning when your in the wooded area there is a lot of things to look at that are all very well done. I think that the fact that they did not include the faces of the characters is a very creative way of going about having the characters in the game. It almost makes me feel as if I can place the face of someone I know onto the people and can immerse myself into the game myself. It also almost makes it feel as if I am experiencing a blurry dream of some sort. This is why the graphics are so interesting. Since its an interactive experience, the graphics help to put the player in the game.
Overall I think that this is a great game that many people would enjoy. There is a lot of relatable feelings that are portrayed in the game that make it hit close to home. I honestly believe that there is something in this game for every gamer out there. Whether or not you have lost someone close to you to cancer or a deadly disease is irrelevant. There are many moments that can trigger a feeling you may have had in your life. These moments are a part of what makes That Dragon, Cancer so powerful. Whether you are interested in “experience” type games or not, That Dragon, Cancer is a milestone for “experience” type games to come.
Experience - 9/10
Graphics - 8/10
Gameplay - 7/10
While it may not be for everyone since it is an “experience” rather than an actual video game, if you’re looking for a great game that will either make you feel things you’ve never felt before or just to live through the tough experiences Ryan and Amy Green went through with their son Joel, That Dragon, Cancer will not disappoint.