Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
  1. Apr 9, 2016
    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.
  2. Feb 4, 2016
    A rollercoaster ride of emotions that made me laugh and cry in near equal measure.
  3. Jan 18, 2016
    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.
  4. Jan 15, 2016
    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.
  5. Jan 14, 2016
    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.
  6. Jan 11, 2016
    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.
  7. Jan 14, 2016
    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.
  8. Jan 13, 2016
    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.
  9. Jan 12, 2016
    Steven Spielberg once said that games could only become a true storytelling art form when they manage to make you cry. This game will.
  10. Feb 19, 2016
    An extremely personal game which confronts cancer head on, it shines brightest when telling its story and examining the effects of grief.
  11. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Apr 12, 2016
    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]
  12. Mar 8, 2016
    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.
  13. Edge Magazine
    Mar 7, 2016
    The most successful episodes find ways to hold us captive. [March 2016, p.122]
  14. Mar 7, 2016
    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...
  15. Feb 10, 2016
    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.
  16. Feb 5, 2016
    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.
  17. Jan 31, 2016
    This is a brave, important experience, and one that feels like a form of therapy for the creators. That Dragon, Cancer is truly unforgettable.
  18. Jan 19, 2016
    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.
  19. Jan 19, 2016
    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.
  20. Jan 18, 2016
    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.
  21. Jan 18, 2016
    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.
  22. Jan 15, 2016
    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.
  23. Jan 15, 2016
    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.
  24. Jan 13, 2016
    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.
  25. Jan 12, 2016
    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.
  26. Jan 11, 2016
    One of those games that transcend its own nature to become something more... almost art. This is the best way to make Joel immortal.
  27. Feb 11, 2016
    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.
  28. Jan 14, 2016
    That Dragon, Cancer tells a valuable story despite its uneven delivery.
  29. Jan 12, 2016
    Ironically, if it had tried to be less of a game, it would have been a much better game.
  30. Jan 11, 2016
    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.
  31. Jan 12, 2016
    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.
  32. Mar 6, 2016
    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.
  33. Jan 11, 2016
    A very brave attempt to use video games to inspire empathy and share grief over one of the most sensitive subjects imaginable.
  34. 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.
  35. Jan 13, 2016
    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.
  36. Feb 25, 2016
    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.
  37. Jan 12, 2016
    Like inventing and describing a new color, That Dragon, Cancer tries to describe something indescribable, and does an admirable job of it.
  38. Jan 22, 2016
    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.
  39. Game World Navigator Magazine
    Feb 11, 2016
    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]
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  1. Jan 11, 2016
    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.
  2. That Dragon, Cancer is an important game because it tries, but not because it succeeds.
  3. Jan 11, 2016
    That Dragon, Cancer is smart about presenting that tragedy through a series of stylistically disparate interactions to prevent itself from becoming dull or numbing.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 98 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 98
  2. Negative: 31 out of 98
  1. Jan 13, 2016
    In response to the claim that That Dragon, Cancer is not a game. Who cares if That Dragon, Cancer is a "game"? Seriously? It doesn't have toIn response to the claim that That Dragon, Cancer is not a game. Who cares if That Dragon, Cancer is a "game"? Seriously? It doesn't have to fit the narrow definition of "game." It has to be played, that makes it a VIDEOgame. Pretty simple really--you play it, therefore its a vidoegame. I am pretty tired of this discussion of what is and isn't a game.

    Anyway, I think TDC is a great example of why, as the medium of videogames has evolved in terms of artistic sensibility, its really weird to grade them on old rubrics like difficulty, replayability, and fun factor. Critics keep doing this in their reviews though even though most people have eschewed the categories themselves.

    What you need to know about TDC is that it is incredibly compelling, incredibly heartfelt, and incredibly emotionally challenging in all the right ways. Its not mechanically challenging or even mechanically novel, however, its mechanics poetically illustrate the value of grief, something I have never experienced in a game before. This game wrecked me. It made me feel for the Greens, more than that, it made me determined to love people who grieve. How does one possibly grade that experience on a 10 point scale? You can't really, or at least it feels very weird to experience that and shave off 2 points for a couple glitches and floaty platforming mechanics.

    If your rubric keeps you from experiencing the emotional power of a game because of these types of things, your rubric probably needs to be thrown out. Start from scratch. Experience things as a human being before you experience them as a "gamer."
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 13, 2016
    That Dragon, Cancer makes an attempt at discussing something as serious as dealing with the horrible, horrible loss of a child; my heart goesThat Dragon, Cancer makes an attempt at discussing something as serious as dealing with the horrible, horrible loss of a child; my heart goes out to the family.

    Unfortunately, That Dragon, Cancer, is about as much of a game as is The Stanley Parable or any other "games" that make an attempt to to make some sort of commentary on life, love or the state of the industry.

    Further, it also doesn't excuse the product from criticism, regardless of the message, no matter how personal or emotional.

    As a digital product, advertised as a "game" (and I use that term loosely), That Dragon, Cancer suffers from a hodgepodge of bugs, glitches and other technical difficulties.

    The reality is, this product does nothing new, it has nothing revolutionary about it. And I simply cannot review a product based solely on the level of emotional attachment some people may develop for this product.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 12, 2016
    Just because this game tackles a subject as serious as the life of a child dying of cancer through the eyes of his parents, that doesn'tJust because this game tackles a subject as serious as the life of a child dying of cancer through the eyes of his parents, that doesn't automatically excuse its numerous failings on both a technical and creative level. Full Review »