Let me start by stating that I have never watched the original Vox Machina role-play campaign. I didn’t discover Critical Role until they were well into their second campaign. That one however I found interesting enough to go back and watch from the beginning.
This means that I have no possibility to judge exactly how closely the TV show follows the original role-playing sessions. Which maybe is a good thing.
First, the positive. It’s very endeering and quite honestly awesome that a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons roleplayers – who happen to be professional voice actors – make such a success in streaming their game sessions that they end up making the biggest Kickstarter in the field ever, and then getting the possibility to make an entire animated TV series season.
The animation is smooth. The voice acting is – naturally – top notch. All in all it is a very nice experience.
It does however have one weakness in my opinion and that is the script. The main characters three episodes in feels… not as likeable and multi-facetted as they ought to be. Of course, that’s based on a comparison with how the cast manage to make their characters come alive in their second campaign. So maybe their Vox Machina characters never were as loveable and quirky as their Mighty Nein ones. I wouldn’t know.
There’s also small quirks which maybe shows that their showrunners aren’t as great as the voice actors. Things like making a point of that Trinket the bear has to wait outside the palace, only to have the monarch proclaim that he likes the bear. Which he at that point hasn’t seen since said bear is sitting outside the main gates. In the same vein it is shown that Vox Machina lacks a certain social adaptation by failing to stand up at a banquet in honour of the monarch entering. Only to have the same banquet ending abruptly by the also invited and social competent villains declaring thet they will retire from the banquet by standing up and leaving – while the monarch, who is also their host, is still seated at the table. Talk about faux pas. But apparently this is nothing.
All in all The Legend of Vox Machina is an impressive feat. And not at all a bad show even if its unique background is discounted. For fans of fantasy tales in general and Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying in particular, it’s definitely worth watching. And it’s a true pleasure to see voice actors get a chance to more or less do their own show for once and take the front seat.