Critical Role games are not yet an established product from the popular brand, despite many successful ventures into other media. Aside from its popular weekly web show, the hit series has also branched out into comics, books and guides. Their most ambitious step towards something new was recently observed by their wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. With the support of 88,887 backers, an incredible $11,385,449 was donated to the making of an animated series. With so much evident love backing the series, perhaps a video game property is not far off in the future. The world of Exandria may yet be realised in video game form. Until then however, this article seeks to provide 5 video game alternatives for a Critical Role experience.
As for Dungeons and Dragons, the ever-popular tabletop game offers unique role-playing experiences that are enticing to many players. However, the game is often a struggle to enjoy solo, requiring multiple players for the full experience. Serving the role of dungeon master and player at the same time is like playing yourself at chess. The thrill of outwitting the dungeon master simply isn’t possible during a solo game. As such, the AI of video games might offer a competent substitute for a DM if you want a solo adventure. So, what games best capture the same essence of roleplaying as Critical Role?
Divinity: Original Sin II
The highly regarded role-playing game from Larian Studios wears its influences on its sleeve. Whilst the game does not use the trademarked D&D properties, it replicates the atmosphere rather well. The various classes should not be unfamiliar to anyone with D&D experience. Where it most strongly competes as a potential Critical Role game is in its open nature. The possibilities for overcoming the obstacles in the game are numerous, often rewarding creativity. The amount of role-playing that Larian Studios accounted for in the design of the game is breathtakingly brilliant. Whilst the game has a very set story you must follow, you can be certain that you will make it your own.
As for the gameplay, it serves as a turn-based strategy encounter game, much like D&D without the die rolls. You control an entire party, ranging from 1-4 characters, strategically governing each of their moves in and out of battle. Almost every object in the environment is interactable, allowing for their movement, destruction or use at any time. This can allow for unique solutions to encounters, with some players creating barricades or traps out of their surroundings. Additionally, clever spell usage or crafting can allow players to circumnavigate the traps waiting for them in the world. The world is filled with NPCs to interact with, resulting in various quest outcomes dependent on your choices.
Additionally, the game best captures the D&D experience through its Game Master mode. Players construct their own encounters using the tools in this mode, allowing for a dungeon master adjacent experience. Furthermore, the game has an online function to allow parties to be constructed entirely of players. Players are not shackled together, allowing them to interact with varying parts of the world simultaneously.
Turn-based gameplay is not to everyone’s preference, and that is where an action-RPG could rise instead. Few games maintain their relevance as long as Skyrim’s, still popular now almost nine years after its 2011 launch. The game offers a vast fantasy open-world to be explored, providing hours of adventuring in a style that suits you. The game does not pigeon-hole players with classes, as role-playing is very much what will define your character’s growth. How you choose to experience the game, whether it be your weapon, spells or other skills, will influence your levels. It allows for player progression that truly reflects the adventures behind them, following the mantra that practice makes perfect. There is a freedom to your own personal adventure that perfectly encapsulates the open possibilities of Critical Role games.
Outside of the skills, players have a variety of choices to make. During character creation, the player selects their gender and race, the latter of which will impact their interactions with NPCs. Beyond that, you will become what you make of yourself. The various factions you choose to join, the allies you make, they will define your playthrough. Whilst the main story offers little flexibility in decision making, the side-content offers an abundance. Do you want to be a warrior? Then the hall of the Companions awaits. Are you a stealthy rogue? The Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood can offer you work. If you wish to perfect your spellcasting, join the College of Winterhold. Furthermore, the two sides of the civil war are awaiting a champion. The land of Skyrim also offers many secret opportunities, from vampirism to lycanthropy and various other unique existences.
Any Critical Role games released in the future would naturally require a lot of familiar D&D assets. Critical Role takes place in the land of Exandria, a fictional land invented by the dungeon master Matthew Mercer. Even so, much of the concepts from the campaign are lifted directly from the resources from Wizards of the Coast. The company behind the distribution of D&D are most well known for their own land of the Forgotten Realms. It is within this setting that the Baldur’s Gate game series occurs. Whilst is not set directly in the Critical Role universe, the game is filled with familiarity for series fans. You can expect all the same classes, races, enemies and dimensions that populate the Critical Role series. As such, this franchise is the closest players can currently get to the world of Critical Role.
The game itself is a tactical role-playing game, much in the same vein as Divinity: Original Sin II. Furthermore, the next entry in the series, Baldur’s Gate 3, is being developed by Larian Studios. You can anticipate a similar tactical experience from the next entry, with the addition of more D&D lore-friendly assets. The main difference players will notice in the gameplay is the reliance on dice. Much like the table-top experience, the game includes a D20 dice roll when executing an action to determine success. This will make for a more unique experience than players are likely used to in other RPGs. For further gameplay clues, read the D&D 5e ruleset. However, the franchise has a significantly richer history than that, dating back to its first entry in 1998. If the wait for the next instalment is too great, then a catalogue of prior entries awaits.
When considering Critical Role games, fans of the series adore its fantastic story arcs. A clear goal to drive the adventure forward is often what keeps viewers the most enthralled. Standouts within the series include the Briarwood arc and the Chroma Conclave, both offering menacing threats looming over the cast. Having a concise and well-told story to motivate a player’s continual progression through a fantasy world can be crucial. Thankfully, the Dragon Age series offers an abundance of epic stories in the land of Thedas. From the Blight in Dragon Age: Origins, to the rifts of Dragon Age: Inquisition, players can leave their marks. This is made all the more satisfying by the games including save-transfer features to keep their stories continuing across releases. Such continuity is made even more exciting with the recent announcement of a new series instalment anticipated for next-gen consoles.
Whilst the game certainly requires a level of strategy, it replaces turn-based gameplay for real-time combat. Players swap between party members; however, they will primarily focus on playing as their avatar. Through their custom character, players can experience either warrior, rogue or mage gameplay. However, the standout experience the game offers is the chance to bond with your party. Through a variety of party interactions and missions, you develop relationships with each member of the group. All of this leads to a narrative-focused experience that can sometimes alter the course of subsequent games. Players create ripples across various games, and this somewhat replicates the multiple campaigns of Critical Role.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Whilst Critical Role games are yet to be created, the brand has invaded other properties through successful tie-ins. In the case of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, players can create the characters of Vox Machina. The game will require players to create their own custom characters to become the Watcher for the game’s narrative. However, what makes it stand out from other games on this list is the special Critical Role downloadable pack. This includes character portraits and voices that match those of the beloved Vox Machina group members. What’s more, the cast of the show actually voiced all of these custom dialogue options. As such, this game is the closest gamers can currently get to an adventure alongside the show’s first protagonists.
However, while Vox Machina has wiggled their way into the game, players will not be experiencing the world of Exandria. Instead, players will journey through the land of Eora through a top-down rpg experience. The game supports both a real-time and a turn-based mode for combat, making it more accessible to players. Much like with Divinity Original Sin II, the fact that this is a sequel should not intimidate new players. The story and lore are spelled out adequately enough to make this your first adventure, However, as is the case with Dragon Age, the option to import previous saves from prior games allows you to continue your adventure. As such, the game promises a story-rich, strategic gaming experience for fans of all things fantasy.
It’s Your Turn To Roll
Is it Thursday yet? If not, then you might be having those Critical Role cravings you can’t yet satisfy. Well, with the help of this list, perhaps you have now found a few alternate solutions. So, take the initiative and create your own adventures. Many worlds and many possibilities present a call to adventure. Now all you need to do is make a choice.