This review was originally posted on 1/20/22.
As a longtime Critter and player of Dungeons and Dragons, I knew I was bound to like Critical Role‘s animated adaptation of their very first campaign. I remember when their Kickstarter went live to animate a simple 22-minute episode only to blossom into two 12 episode long seasons with Amazon Prime. I’ve rewatched the Briarwood arc numerous times over the years and it is one of the main reasons I fell in love with the series as a whole. But, I always have little doubts about adaptations that just sit in the back of my mind. Like can they meet my expectations as far as story and production? Or will they lack the original’s charm? Well, I am here to say that The Legend of Vox Machina does not disappoint. I didn’t just like this series; I absolutely loved it.
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for campaign one of Critical Role and The Legend of Vox Machina. Tread carefully!
Like I said before, I was bound to like The Legend of Vox Machina. And I was beyond happy that I was in love with it by the end. What struck me first was the fantastic job Titmouse has done bringing Matthew Mercer‘s world to life. Their attention to detail helps flush out this world beyond what our imaginations have been able to build. I remember closing my eyes as Mercer would describe the surroundings within Emon and this feels like I stepped right into my memory. And this doesn’t just include the world either. The way they bring the main cast and additional characters to life are perfect.
And speaking of those characters. I loved how easily Travis Willingham (Grog), Laura Bailey (Vex), Taliesin Jaffe (Percy), Marisha Ray (Keyleth), Liam O’Brien (Vax), Ashley Johnson (Pike) and Sam Riegel (Scanlan) were able to slip back into the characters we know and love. But that isn’t all. A lot of speculation surrounded who the additional cast would be voiced by. Would they be able to fill the shoes of Mercer’s portrayal of characters like Shaun Gilmore and Lady Allura? Yes, yes, they did. Both Sunil Malhotra and Indira Varma fill these roles perfectly. Additional performance favorites of mine are David Tennant as General Krieg and Grey Griffin as Delilah Briarwood.
The story within The Legend of Vox Machina does shift a bit from what fans of the original campaign have come to know. We saw that Lady Allura and Lady Kima of Vord (Stephanie Beatriz) don’t know who they are from the trailer. This gives the impression that the Kraghammer arc that takes place at the beginning of the campaign won’t occur in this iteration. It struck me odd at first; however, it makes tons of sense as the story flows on. It opens and introduces us to the characters, the world and a bit of what is happening perfectly before diving into the heaviness of the Briarwood arc. The adjustments don’t take away from the overall story and even helps it flow a bit better.
Ultimately, what won over my heart in The Legend of Vox Machina was just how funny this show is. The reason I fell in love with Critical Role was because of the off-the-wall antics, witty banter and chemistry between the entire cast. And without a doubt, the animated series captures this perfectly. Even down to the silly side comments made throughout that feel like table banter. The series also stays true to its roots in the sense that this is an adult game and thus an adult program. It doesn’t hide away from darker tones, language and scenarios. It reminds me heavily of Castlevania and DOTA: Dragons Blood, which both rank high on my favorite animated fantasy series list.
The Legend of Vox Machina is a must-watch series for Critters and fans of fantasy! It will drop its first three episodes onto Amazon Prime Video on January 28, 2022. It will then drop three episodes every Friday until the end of season one. I highly suggest taking the time to check it out and experiencing this epic adventure for yourself!