Vox Machina The Origins, the review

Vox Machina The Origins, the review
Published in the United States by Dark Horse Comics, the series of six numbers of fantasy comics inspired by the events of the streaming series Critical Role, Vox Machina Le Origini, arrives in Italy published by BD Comics. The graphic novel, written by Mattew Mercer and Matt Colville, is enriched by the drawings of Olivia Samson colored by Chris Northrop.

The result is a well thought-out series, in its simplicity, full of gags and interesting ideas for Critical Role fans and for all those who are approaching role-playing games for the first time like Dungeons & Dragons.

Critical Role the origins

The inspiration for the Vox Machina comic series The Origins comes straight from the first campaign of Critical Role, a weekly US web series live streaming on twitch, in which professional voice actors come together to play Dungeons & Dragons. The Dungeon Master of the group is Matthew Mercer, well-known voice actor of anime, cartoons and video games.

Among the most famous works of the voice actor we find Levi Ackerman in Attack of the Giants, Jotaro Kujo in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure , McCree in Overwatch, Yusuke Kitagawa in Persona 5, and McCready in Fallout 4. The players, on the other hand, are Ashley Johnson, voice of Ellie in The Last of Us Part II, Travis Willingham, voice of Sergei in Call of Duty: Black Ops, Laura Bailey, voice of Nodoka Manabe in the anime K-on! , Liam O'Brien, who voices Doctor Strange in the Ultimate Spider-Man animation series, Taliesin Jaffe, voice of Skiadrum in Fairy Tail, Marisha Ray, English voice of Margaret in the Persona 4 video game series, Orion Acaba, Voiced by Ivar in Tales of Xillia and Sam Riegel, famous for voicing Donatello in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

The first season of Critical Role aired from March 2015 and ended in October 2017 but in reality the group's first campaign started two years earlier, as a simplified session of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons , for Liam O'Brien's birthday. It seems that the players have enjoyed it so much that they decide to continue role-playing, starting to play Pathfinder. The group's career in the world of streaming, however, begins after Felicia Day, who learned of the game, asked the group to replicate the experience in a live streaming format for the Geek & Sundry channel. To adapt the game to the streaming format, the group has therefore decided to leave the Pathfinder RPG and start a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

In June 2018, Critical Role Productions created its own channels Twitch and Youtube, assigning Marisha Ray the role of creative director of the franchise. Despite 115 episodes of their first campaign, totaling 373 hours of gameplay, there are still numerous untold stories that happened before the cast began live streaming. These are the very stories that the Vox Machina comic series The Origins intends to tell the public.

Vox Machina: they will save the world, sooner or later

Critical Role Vox Machina The Origins è the origin story of the band of adventurers who will soon be known as Vox Machina, and who will one day save the kingdom of Tal'Dorei.

The first comic consists of six chapters, of which the three initials introduce the three pairs of characters protagonists of the story: the two half-elves Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia, a thief and a ranger played respectively by Liam O'Brien and Laura Bailey, the gnome bard Scanlan Shorthalt and the barbarian goliath Grog Strongjaw, played by Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham, and the half-elf druid Keyleth and the dragonid sorcerer Tiberius Strongwind, played by Marisha Ray and Orion Acaba respectively. The scene opens on the thief Vax'ildan and the ranger Vex'ahlia, stationed in a swamp outside Stilben, the town where the story will unfold.

The twin half-elves are, in fact, investigating a curse which allegedly hit the town of Stilben, leading the inhabitants to sacrifice their babies, all born premature, in the surrounding swamp. Investigating this mystery, the twins will meet the half-elf druid Keyleth. The subsequent narrative arcs follow a similar pattern, each of the characters, future heroes of Tal'Dorei, is investigating the curse for different reasons. Goliath Grog and the bard Scanlan encounter the curse while recovering a treasure. Keyleth and Tiberius, on the other hand, are grappling with an investigation into the stolen items. Finally, the paths of the six adventurers will cross and, to save their lives, they will have to save the inhabitants of Stilben from a dark and dangerous enemy.

The first Italian volume of Critical Role Vox Machina The Origins therefore opens the doors to a broader narrative, which will see this group of adventurers decide to stay together to face new adventures and find excellent opportunities to "develop their characters".

To attract new generations of gamers

The initially striking thing about the first volume of Critical Role Vox Machina The Origins is that the story does not proceed as fast as you would expect from a comic. The narrative seems to follow, however, the dynamics of a real game of Dungeons & Dragons. Between interruptions, creative solutions and out of place jokes, including the bard who often breaks the fourth wall and shows that he is aware of being only a character in a game, the atmosphere of Vox Machina Le Origini faithfully recalls what happens around the table during a session.

Even the well-defined characters seem to contain the main stereotypes that populate the imaginary of role players. The charismatic bard with a quick talk, the Thief with a tragic past, the barbarian not very educated but with a great loyalty towards his companions, the well-educated and good-hearted Dragonborn Wizard and the sociable and kind druid. The story may seem unoriginal, especially to long-time players, but it is perfectly representative of a typical Dungeons and Dragons campaign, without losing its charm and fun. If any passage in the formation of the Vox Machina gang appears forced, we must not forget that the comic is the faithful transposition of a campaign actually played and that, therefore, some situations are due to the impositions by Deus ex Machina of the Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer, necessary to ensure that the story has a common beginning for all players. These gimmicks are, in fact, common practice among players not only of Dungeons & Dragons, but also among fans of all other RPGs.

Olivia Samson's pencil and Northrop's coloring both reach the perfect balance between complexity and simplicity. The illustrations of characters and settings are detailed and manage to completely immerse readers in the world of Dungeons and Dragons. The Italian volume, published by Edizioni BD, is a paperback in glossy paper printed entirely in color. In addition to the stories, it contains the original covers, the preparatory sketches and the cards of the characters involved in the narration.

The volume, which costs 16 €, was created in two versions, the standard one and the one dedicated to Lucca Changes. , with the red cover that recalls the very first manuals of Dungeons and Dragons.

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