REVIEW: ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ Episodes 1-3 are Perfect

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The Legend of Vox Machina

It’s been nearly ten years since Critical Role, a group of nerdy-ass voice actors, sat around a table for a home game of Dungeons and Dragons. A few years later the group would make their debut on Twitch bringing their campaign to the public in 2015. The DnD world fell in love. Since the inaugural stream, Critical Role now boasts its own Twitch channel, sold-out live shows, two additional campaigns, a charity group (Critical Role Foundation), a production company, multiple comic book series, and a novel. While all impressive in their own right, nothing may compare to their latest accomplishment, The Legend of Vox Machina. 

In 2019, Critical Role launched a bold new Kickstarter. The campaign set out to produce an animated special based on the group’s first campaign featuring the adventuring band Vox Machina. The Kickstarter quickly amassed $11.3 million which turned the one-time animated special into a two-season animated series spanning twenty-four episodes on Prime Video. Even typing that sentence seems surreal.

The first campaign of Critical Role accumulated a massive 373 hours worth of game time hours during their stream, not to mention their time spent playing for their time on Twitch. For perspective, it would take longer to watch the first campaign than it would take to binge-watch the 33 seasons of The Simpsons. With that much content, The Legend of Vox Machina will have no shortage of stories to pull from. Thankfully, The Legend of Vox Machina starts near the start of their time on Twitch giving old Critters a chance to relive the early days and giving new Critters plenty of time to learn about the future heroes of Exandria.

The Legend of Vox Machina features all the heroes that Critters have come to love over the years being voiced by their table counterparts:  Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson), Keyleth (Marisha Ray), Percival de Rolo (Taliesin Jaffe), Grog Strongjaw (Travis Willingham, Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel), Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey), and Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien). The legendary dungeon master Matthew Mercer will likely wear many hats in the show but his first major role brings life back to one of his most cunning villains, Sylas Briarwood.

In addition to the original cast who also serve as producers, The Legend of Vox Machina has brought in a powerhouse team of actors to play various side characters that Mercer created during campaign one. David Tennant (Dr. Who), Tony Hale, (Arrested Development), Stephanie Beatriz (Encanto), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings), Gina Torres (Firefly), Felicia Day (Geek and Sundry), Grey Griffen (Avatar the Last Airbender), just to name a few all make appearances very early on in the season. Hearing new voices given to characters voiced by Matthew Mercer was such a treat and had me waiting to meet the new character just to hear whose voice would be gracing The Legend of Vox Machina. 

With so many characters and hours of content to balance, the first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina do a fantastic job of letting viewers know who are characters are and the world they inhabit. Episodes 1 through 3 essentially serves as the closest thing viewers will get to a “zero session”. In zero session, the Dungeon Masters and players establish expectations, discuss characters, understand the basics of the campaign, and learn a little about the world they will embark into. Like many novice adventuring parties in dungeons and dragons, the members of Vox Machina are still green and have a lot to learn about their fellow party members.

From the jump, The Legend of Vox Machina lets viewers know exactly what it is. This is an adult animated fantasy based on a dungeons and dragons campaign with a bunch of adults. Through and through, there is cursing, there is nudity, and there is violence that would make even Prime Video’s Invincible wince in pleasure. By incorporating dungeons and dragons spells and abilities, the action is exciting and animated in a style that fits well into a series made for adults.

Early standouts for me in the first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina are the dark and brooding gunslinger Percy and the uncertain druid Keyleth. These two alone show the wide range of character journies that our heroes will take before the show’s end. Further, many of the characters outside of the main group are varied in appearance, sexuality, and personality making The Legend of Vox Machina feel inclusive despite being set in a make-belief land filled with elves, dragons, and vampires. 

As a longtime Critter, there is a magic watching character brought to an animated life after seeing them played by the Critical Role cast for so many years. There is plenty of well-placed Easter eggs and recurring jokes from the table that will have other Critters grinning ear to ear. Amazingly, the cast has already begun to recapture some of the best moments from the live sessions at the table.  Further, the rest of the supporting cast has brought new life to characters that had only been played by Matthew Mercer in the past. In this way, it feels like a new world for even the most dedicated Critter.

Sky’s the limit for this series. The Legend of Vox Machina lays the foundation for a new exciting animated world that will capture any adult who loves fantasy, action, and a well-timed joke or two. By starting at the beginning, everyone has a chance to go back to 2015 when Vox Machina was just a band of misfits. Everyone will be able to see them grow into the heroes we know them to be today. Everyone will be able to see the world of Exandria grow and who knows, we could be watching the adventures of The Mighty Nein in no time at all.

The Legend of Vox Machina Episodes 1 – 3 are available now on Prime Video. 


The Legend of Vox Machina
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    Rating - 10/10
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TL;DR

Sky’s the limit for The Legends of Vox Machina. The Legends of Vox Machina lays the foundation for a new exciting animated world that will capture any adult who loves fantasy, action, and a well-timed joke or two. By starting at the beginning, everyone has a chance to go back to 2015 when Vox Machina was just a band of misfits.