Take a chance on Critical Role

Take a chance on Critical Role

Liam Heneghan, Staff Writer

Time. It’s a complaint I hear a lot when I suggest Critical Role to people. “It’s such a long show,” they say, “I mean four hours an episode? Come on.” Luckily, time is a commodity that no one is exactly short on these days, so if there was ever a time to immerse yourself in one of the greatest stories ever told, it’s now.

For the uninitiated, let me introduce you to this absolutely buck wild web series Critical Role. The basic concept is a simple one: a group of eight friends getting together once a week to play the popular tabletop role playing game Dungeons & Dragons live on Twitch – but that basic description is drastically underselling what makes the program so brilliant, and I’ll get back to what makes Critical Role so special in a moment, but I figure I should probably explain the basics of Dungeons & Dragons first so that everyone is on the same page here.

Everyone reading this article has at least heard of Dungeons & Dragons. I’m sure of that much. The game has been experiencing a renaissance as of late due to its frequent appearances in well known media such as the wildly popular Stranger Things, and its influence can be felt all over the entertainment industry. That being said however, many people have little to no understanding of how the game actually works. In short, D&D is a collaborative storytelling experience. A group of friends gets together to play through fictional scenarios of their own creation, using a set of rules to govern the success and failure of their individual actions. This premise is of course rudimentary, but that is by design. Everyone who plays D&D does so a little differently, and all you truly need to get into the hobby is a set of dice and your imagination.

So what makes Critical Role so special? After all, there are dozens of actual play podcasts and web series out there, what separates this one from the crowd? I think that that really comes down to the people running the show. See, the players on Critical Role aren’t just a group of random nobodies – They’re professional voice actors. These people are veteran storytellers with years of experience bringing to life some of the most dramatic stories of our generation. You may recognize their work from properties such as Dragon Ball Z, League of Legends, Naruto, and more. Chances are if you’ve played a video game or watched an animated series released in the last 20 years, you’ve been privy to the talents of the Critical Role cast, whether you were aware of it or not. They bring a life to the characters they play live on Thursday nights that few could ever pull off, and they do it so effortlessly that the time just flies by, and you’re left wanting more.

I love Critical Role, and the narrative it weaves has legitimately changed me as a person ( I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true!). But so what I hear you saying. You’re just one person. I didn’t come to The Raider Review to hear biased and unsubstantiated opinions – I want facts! And you are absolutely right. So don’t just take my word for it. There are thousands of people who adore this wonderful gem of a show, and I have the numbers to prove it. A little over one year ago, in march of 2019, the Critical Role team launched a small project on Kickstarter called The Legend of Vox Machina. See the show is now in its second season, and there has been a swelling of support to see the first season made into a full fledged animated series over the past few years. The Cast of critical Role set their sights on the ambitious goal of 750,000 dollars to make that dream a reality. In the beginning, this was only meant to be a short 30 minute special; a treat for the fans. In over an hour however, the Kickstarter flew past it’s goal, hitting a million dollars. In just under a month, The Legend of Vox Machina raised eleven and a half MILLION dollars, funding a fully animated SEASON of television picked up by Amazon Prime, and becoming the most funded film project on Kickstarter. If you aren’t the kind of person to be swayed by the opinion of one random high school student then you don’t have to take my word for it. People are lining up by the thousands to show their love and support of Critical Role – because it truly is something special.

So next time you find yourself listlessly scrolling through your Netflix Queue desperately trying to find something to do with yourself while under quarantine, consider booting up YouTube and consider giving this wonderful story a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up as hooked as I am, 400 hours deep and looking for more.