One day I stayed up later than I should have watching competitive DOTA 2 on Twitch and, as I was waiting for a match to start, I saw that Dungeons and Dragons was one of the most viewed games on the website. Clicking on it I discovered Critical Role and ended up thoroughly enjoying myself before collapsing into bed.
Critical Role, it turns out, is a show that is streamed live on Twitch where a group of professional voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons. It is on every Thursday at 3 am and has been for almost two years. It stars Matt Mercer (most famous for doing the voice of Mcree in Overwatch) as the Dungeon Master, Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood) as the Goliath Barbarian Grog, Liam O’Brien (Akihiko from Persona 3) as the Half-Elf Rogue Vax’ildan, Marisha Ray (the female guards in Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain) as the Half-Elf Druid Keyleth, Taliesin Jaffe (Blanka from Street Fighter 4) as the Human Gunslinger Percival, Laura Bailey (Nadine Ross from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End) as the Half-Elf Ranger Vexildan, Sam Riegel (Teddie from Persona 4) as the Gnome Bard Scanlen, Ashley Johnson (Ellie from The Last of Us) as the Gnome Cleric Pike and Orion Acaba (Scab from Mad Max) as the Dragonborn Sorcerer Tiberius. The group of heroes are called Vox Machina, a reference to the fact that they are all voice actors.
Watching a group of seven people play Dungeons and Dragons for somewhere between three to five hours sounds, on the face of it, incredibly boring. But it is a testament to the entire crew that is just not the case. Matt Mercer is a sublime voice actor (hell, they all are) and such a gifted story-teller that I couldn’t help but be drawn in whenever he describes a dungeon, a town, some unholy monstrosity or even just a character the team are interacting with. But what really makes it is Vox Machina. Each character feels fully fleshed out and complex to the point where they could almost exist thanks to the quality of the role-playing by the team as a whole. It also helps that they all seem like excellent individuals who are frequently very funny. It just fun to watch these people interact with the world that Matt Mercer creates for them and how they try to deal with the obstacles set in front of them. Yes it can get a bit…long-winded at times but such is the way with improvisational acting. It has even inspired me to attempt to go full nerd and try to get a group of my friends together to play some Dungeons and Dragons. It won’t be as good, of course, but it will be an interesting experience nonetheless.
I recommend giving the show a watch. Geek and Sundry, the umbrella company that supports Critical Role, put up each episode later on Youtube so they are readily available.