A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Re-Mission was developed by HopeLab, a non-profit organization with the goal of improving the lives of young people with chronic illnesses. The game, which stars a cell-blasting nanomachine, was developed in conjunction with medical researchers and cleverly provides information about various kinds of cancer and the medicine used to fight it. Studies have proven its efficacy in educating the youngsters who play. It features mild violence, and its heroine likes to talk smack to the cancerous cells she targets, but there is no blood or true profanity.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Developed by HopeLab, a company founded by a medical researcher who wanted to combine her passion for games with her career, RE-MISSION is a third-person shooter that puts players in the shoes of an elite, cancer-fighting nanomachine. She floats in three dimensions through the bodies of young human hosts, blasting tumor cells before they can replicate and spread while communicating with doctors on the outside who tell her where to go and what to do. Players are provided backgrounders on the kids they're working to cure, and must occasionally fly to and activate nodes that remind the patient to do exercises that help them relax. Designed specifically for kids with cancer, the game cleverly disseminates information about various strains of the disease, its symptoms, and real-world treatments and cures through dialogue and mission objectives.
Is it any good?
You'd probably expect a game designed to educate young cancer patients about their disease to be plodding and dull, but that's hardly the case with Re-Mission. In fact, the fast-paced three-dimensional combat is better than that of many action games developed by for-profit companies. The notion of frying cancerous cells even as they metastasize and spread works perfectly within the context of a game focused on shooting, and the spectrum of enemy cells we face requires players to learn which weapon (chemo, radiation, or antibiotics) to use in different situations. What's more, smart and imaginative environments -- such as one in which players must avoid electrical discharges from nerves in a patient's spinal column -- help keep the scenery from growing monotonous.
The only place the game begins to falter is in its story and dialogue. Roaming across the country and being injected into patient after patient gets a little repetitive, and a few of the game's humorous scenarios -- like one sequence in which our tiny heroine tries to tune in lame rock music through a receiver in a host's body -- feel as though they were written by an adult struggling to understand what kids find funny (which, of course, was probably the case). Still, it's a niggling complaint. Re-Mission is a great game with a noble objective, and worth playing regardless of whether or not you yourself are fighting the disease -- especially since the $20 donation asked of non-cancer patient players who download the software will go straight toward distributing the game to kids who need it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various benefits that Re-Mission offers children suffering from cancer. Does it go beyond education? Do you think kids would appreciate being able to finally take aim at a disease they can't see or touch? Do you think that the game has the power to change a person's outlook on fighting cancer? How much of an impact do you believe a positive attitude might have in helping a cancer patient become healthier?