The camera sweeps across the country of Emon, revealing the castle at dusk, before bringing the audience to a speech by King Uriel Tal’Dorei II, who is abdicating the throne as Vox Machina watches. During the king’s proclamation, however, a swarm of dragons overruns the castle and begins destroying the surrounding countryside.
The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 is an animated adaptation of the live-action streaming series Critical Role, which features notable voice actors and geek personalities playing Dungeons & Dragons. Showrunner Matthew Mercer based the series on the very first campaign the Critical Role team ran, and after it made an impact with Amazon Prime audiences, a second season was ordered, much to the delight of fans.
The eponymous “Vox Machina,” a band of heroes that travel together drinking grog, making filthy jokes, and occasionally completing the duties they undertake, was soon embraced by Western fantasy and D&D fans equally, crossing over with anime enthusiasts. The crew is comprised of the barbarian Grog Strongjaw (Travis Willingham), the gnome bard Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel), the gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson), the half-elf Keyleth (Marisha Ray), the human Percival “Percy” Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III (Taliesa Jaffe), and the half-elf twins Vex (
This time around, the stakes are bigger, as evidenced by the first episode. In the first season, Vox Machina worked to fight the dragon Brimscythe; in this season, there are four of them, each with their own unique abilities that make them a greater threat, such as frost breath and acid that shoots from their very beings. It is the Chrome Conclave, a gathering of five chromatic dragons, each with its own frightening encounter. Fortunately, this motley crew of heroes is still more than capable of completing the mission, if not soon.
If they intend to destroy the dragons, they must take a break from the battle, regroup, and return even more powerful. This includes training to get stronger, as well as the search for the Vestiges of Divergence, ancient artifacts that, when combined, may be precisely what the squad needs to destroy the Chroma Conclave. The only difficulty? Obtaining and possessing each one has the potential to divide the team and its members.
The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 is obviously evocative of the previous season, but it’s also quite similar to the live-action show The Guild, as I highlighted in my Season 1 review. This sitcom exposed viewers to a motley crew of MMORPG players for a 2000s romp, lead by Felicia Day of Critical Role. Several animated shows have aired since then, including Dragon Age: Absolution, which satisfies a craving for Western fantasy based on a renowned video game franchise. Similarly to Vox Machina, it incorporates humor while also providing an abundance of satisfying action.
Our opinion is that Vox Machina is back and better than ever. However, it has also gained some maturity, which seems suitable. The heroes have matured, as has their communication with one another. Now that they feel more like a family, they have so much more to lose.
The comic tone is still prevalent, but it is not immediately apparent in the pilot. In the opening minutes of the episode, King Tal’Dorei II is showered in acid after being trapped outside the protection spell created by one of the Vox Machina, and when the dragons descend on Emon, spectators are hacked to pieces with reckless abandon. It’s a ballet of body parts as the kingdom’s inhabitants are slain one by one. Even still, there is much opportunity for humor that makes the dreadful catastrophe a bit more palatable, so the team can attempt to work through it.
This is one reason why this season is such a worthwhile and intriguing continuation. As powerful as each of its members is, Vox Machina cannot handle everything on its own. And while it may appear somewhat lazily to burden the Vox Machina with fetch errands, locating the Vestiges is neither straightforward nor quick.
After completing their mission to retrieve the Vestiges, every member of the Vox Machina is a better person, as they are exposed to a new world of challenges and rawness. The outcome? A stronger link with one another and a team that will never be defeated by evil. We all want our D&D characters to increase in strength over time. Observing the growth of Vox Machina is equally satisfying.
There are a few sexual references scattered throughout the first episode, but don’t let that deceive you. This is very definitely a show for adults, and it constantly reminds you of this with extremely cheeky adult jokes. Consider this if you decide to let the children watch.
The dragons of the Chroma Conclave gather in a flaming pit that resembles the depths of Hell to debate their plans for the land, which include stealing everything it has to offer and eliminating the Vox Machina. After some frightening conversation, they go and the screen goes blank.
Sleeper Star: It’s difficult to pick a standout voice in this series because everyone does such a fantastic job, but I found myself laughing at numerous of Percival “Percy” Fredrickstein von Musel Klosso de Rolo III’s lines. Talented as they come, Taliesin Jaffe imbues Percy with deadpan delivery of his lines that still make me chuckle.
The most pilot-like utterance: “Are those dragons?” As the winged animals from the opening of the episode seize control of the realm, a terrified peasant cries out, “What are you doing?” Yes. Yes, these are dragons, and they are firing ice blasts at the crowd. Guess what we will see significantly more of when the show begins? You guessed it.
Our Request: STREAM IT. Vox Machina is as loud, obscene, and chaotic as it gets. If you haven’t yet found a regular D&D group or are interested in learning more about the game, this second series of episodes will undoubtedly convince you. This time around, the foes are more formidable, the Vox Machina are more susceptible, and you actually feel like you’re on an adventure with excellent friends, just as you were in Critical Role. If the current season is any indication, a third season of episodes should be scheduled.
Brittany Vincent has covered video games and technology for publications such as G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and GameSpot for over a decade. When she is not writing or playing video games, she collects vintage consoles and technology. Her Twitter handle is @MolotovCupcake.