Very few games have the ability to get under someone’s skin, pull at their heart strings and play with their emotions… and I honestly cannot think of one that has had such a profound effect as That Dragon, Cancer. While most games attempt to grasp the player in such a way through a fictional-based narrative or relatable characters, nothing compares to the grounding reality of That Dragon, Cancer and its message of hope in such a difficult situation.
The strangest part of writing this… is that I know I cannot play the game. I purchased it upon launch, and cannot bring myself to launch the title. As a parent of two amazing girls, especially with one on the cusp of her first birthday (much like Joel in TDC), I know that this game will rip me a part. In fact, the release trailer on Steam alone had me on the verge of a breakdown in the office. There’s something that, as a parent, ratchets the emotional attachment to Joel that those without children will never understand. This is in no way a bad thing, it’s a very vital thing and really lends a lot credibility to the gaming space for being able to produce such an poignant piece of work.
If you’re looking for a review Andrew Webster of The Verge has a great writeup titled “That Dragon, Cancer is a game that will make you want to hug your kids and never let go“, which honestly deserves an award or at the very least it’s own Steam achievement for play-through as a parent.