Critical Role is the first streaming show and podcast that DM and voice actor Matthew Mercer made available online. The show follows the adventures of an established gaming group called Vox Machina, which was apparently the weekly D&D group that Mercer had been leading for months or years before the podcast started. The podcast begins with a new story arc for the group, but it is not the beginning of the party, and some of the early shows include moments where the DM or players explain some of the previous adventures to the podcast/streaming audience.
|Critical Role||Audio and Video||http://criticalrolepodcast.geekandsundry.com/||Weekly||PC-PG|
Critical Role began posting shows in podcast format in June of 2017. However, early shows reference 2015 in some of the table talk banter, and it may be the case that they existed only in archive form on Twitch.tv or YouTube until they began packaging the audio as podcasts.
Critical Role is set in the homebrew campaign world or continent of Tal’Dorei, created by Matthew Mercer for his gaming group. In 2017, Mercer and James Haeck published a hardcover campaign setting through Green Ronin Press.
Critical Role is part of the Geek and Sundry network.
Critical Role is a good show, and as I listen to more of it, my rating may actually increase. I said in my review of the Force Grey podcast that I found that Matt Mercer podcast first, and it’s obvious that Mercer has put everything he learned from recording the Critical Role games into recording that game. The early Critical Role sessions are mic’d unevenly and the table talk between players who are not “on stage” can sometimes be distracting. In the early episodes there are also several painfully loud moments of distortion and static when the table gets excited or when some sort of electrical interference attacks the audio signal.
Most of the Twitch.tv shows I have watched so far (such as Dice Camera Action and Acquisitions Incorporated,: The C Team) get additional production value from having someone on the control board who is not playing, and that makes a world of difference that I might not have appreciated if I had run across the video archives of this show before I found those.
I also think that when you have professional actors in a show, it just comes off better when they gain the benefit of the editing and side chatter removal that you have in Force Grey. The NPC voices of the DM have more impact, and the action of the episode moves along more rapidly.
Critical Role also features a large table (I believe if I counted correctly in early episodes there are fully 7 players in addition to Mercer) so it takes a while to get around the table when turn-based combat comes around. The actors on the show are very funny, and Mercer is a skilled DM who keeps everyone involved and gives each player the opportunity to describe his or her most heroic moments with the question, “How do you want to do this?” when they land the killing blow against an enemy.
I give this show a PG rating because the language can get a bit rough at times, but it’s not so excessive that it warrants any additional flags that may make it objectionable to specific segments of the audience.