For a number of years now, the crew over at Critical Role have entertained millions of people with their livestreams using the dice and rules for Dungeons & Dragons. In 2022, fans of Critical Role were treated to an animated series documenting the adventures of Vox Machina: a group of misfit adventurers trying to make a name for themselves and, of course, make a profit. The first season was well received and even brought in new fans (me included) to the world of Exandria. Now Vox Machina is back for another adventure, and this time it’s bigger than before.
The season two premiere of The Legend of Vox Machina picks up right where season one left off. Vox Machina has saved the people of Emon and at the celebration Sovereign Uriel announces that he is leaving the throne and that the council will be leading the kingdom. That moment is short lived because four dragons attack Emon and destroy nearly everything. Who are they? They are the Chroma Conclave and they mean to take over the realm. It’s up to none other than Vox Machina to stop them. After Vox Machina escapes the death and destruction, they begin their quest to find magical weapons that will stop the dragons of the Conclave. I won’t say anymore about the story and plot because you all should experience it yourselves, but let’s just say that I was in tears by the end of the third episode.
The writing for this season premiere is absolutely top notch and includes members of the Critical Role cast like Travis Willingham and Sam Riegel. They along with the many other writers of the series craft an epic story that not only does an amazing job of worldbuilding but showcasing the stakes of the adventure this season. The writing team also finds a way to balance the action, humor and drama of these stories and the characters in them. Each character gets to shine in big ways in the three episode premiere but it’s Grog, Vex’ahlia, Vax’ildan and Percy that get a good chunk of the focus. In fact, Vex and Vax are the main focus of the third episode The Sunken Tomb as we get to see some of their backstory and it leads to a moment at the end that will leave you in tears. For Percy, we get to see him struggle with his actions from the previous season as well as try to find his place in Vox Machina. This struggle leads to some funny and very heartfelt moments for Percy. Grog gets a lot of attention in the second episode as he tries to find answers to where he gets his strength. It’s very brutal but funny in a Grog way. The writers even do a fantastic job at building up the threat of the Chroma Conclave by not only teasing a bit of their plan but also showcasing how brutal they can be. Honestly, I can’t say enough about the writing, it’s that fantastic.
When it comes to the voice acting in this series, it is incredible. The entire team of Vox Machina voice by Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray and Matthew Mercer and Sam Riegel are on their A-game. The performances from Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien as the Half-Elf twins Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan is worth the price of admission alone. They bring such weight and heart to these two characters that you can’t help but love them and root for them when they are on the screen. Bailey and O’Brien also do a fantastic job of enhancing their characters backstories in a way I haven’t seen before. You see the personal stakes for Vax and Vex in their quest this season and honestly I can’t wait to see where their story goes. Taliesin Jaffe who plays Percy does an amazing job of showing the audience a broken man who is trying to find his place in the world. He is also trying to show his new family that he can be trusted and he is willing to lay down his life to protect the ones that he loves. The performance is that good. Everyone in the cast is great but it’s those three actors that really standout in the first three episodes of the season.
The animation in this show is gorgeous and everything looks like it stepped out of the pages of a fantasy book. The characters designs are beautiful and the creatures are stunning. Even the dragons with their mix of 2D and 3D animation look menacing and add even more depth to the story and the conflict of the season. Also the dragons of the Chroma Conclave each have different abilities and seeing them come to life is pretty awesome but pretty gruesome at the same time. I will also say that this show doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the violence and gore, so if you have a weak stomach or you can’t handle blood and gore, this show isn’t for you.
I think my only negative for The Legend of Vox Machina is that if you haven’t watched Critical Role, you might get lost in what is going on. The writers definitely do a fantastic job at adapting these stories but keep in mind that this show is based on LIVE D&D sessions. In D&D the players improvise a lot because they get a lot thrown at them in each session. It’s easy to see how one could come in expecting a bit of the on the spot thinking and decision making only to not see it due to the writing. I will say this though, even though I felt a bit lost, I did pick up on things pretty fast and it only added to my enjoyment.
The first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina are pure fantasy mayhem and fun. It is fun, action packed and heartfelt and just a prefect show for these winter months. If you are craving adventure and comedy with some emotional beats, then this is the show for you!
I give The Legend of Vox Machina 4.5 Chroma Conclaves out of 5