THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA Season One
Rolling their own
Critical Role has been streaming Dungeons & Dragons games played by voice actors since 2015. It’s huge in the tabletop community – so much so that when the CR team decided to crowdfund the cash to make an animation based on their campaign, they ended up with $11.3 million and, later, a partnership with Amazon Studios for two seasons of adventures.
Vox Machina are a legendary band (though at this point more
Fans will get a kick out of seeing the characters brought to life
for their ineptitude) of mercenaries in the land of Tal’dorei, led by gunslinger Percy (Taliesin Jaffe) and half-elf ranger Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey).
They’re hired to find and stop a dragon from terrorising the local villages, but while solving this problem moves them up in the world, it also brings them into contact with the Briarwoods – a vampy couple whose plans threaten everyone.
Fans will get a kick out of seeing the characters brought to life, and traditional 2D animation is the ideal choice for the material. The trouble is, while it’s fun to watch actors improv their way through a bawdy, goofy RPG on a threehour-plus livestream, it loses much of the appeal when squashed and formalised into 25-minute episodes of a scripted television show. The humour aims to be subversive and snarky, but often just comes off as gratingly try-hard. It doesn’t help that the story itself is boilerplate pulp fantasy. The show improves as the characters bed in, but you may find yourself wondering why you’re not watching Castlevania instead.
Creator Matthew Mercer voices numerous characters in the show, including Sylas Briarwood and various guards.