The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Travis Bagwell's "AO: Retribution"

Travis Bagwell's "AO: Retribution"

It's alive....IT'S ALIVE!! Okay that's a bit dramatic, but your eyes do not deceive you. I'm back! Now I know it's been a while, but it shouldn't take long to get back into the groove of things. By the way, a roundup is coming in a couple weeks so be on the lookout for that. For now though, it's review time!

Awaken Online: Retribution

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There aren't many stories I've read that the trials and triumphs of a character matter a lot to me. I can actually count on one hand the number of stories that affect me long after I've finished flipping through their pages. Any and everything written by Travis Bagwell definitely lands in that category. He has a way with building worlds and characters that feel so alive! I was ecstatic to jump back into the Awaken Online series, and Retribution didn't disappoint in the slightest.

The story takes place during the same time the second book of the AO series takes place. Instead of sticking with our usual villai...protagonist, Jason, we switch things up and follow Riley, who just happens to be one of my favorite characters in the series. She's struggling with school IRLthanks to the walking turd of a person named Alex, so while Jason is mysteriously logged off for a while, she decides to pursue a quest related to her trusty bow. Man, is it a wild ride!

We encounter plagues, assassins, magical cities, and best of all, new characters. Usually, more characters would spell trouble for an established series, but Bagwell breathes life into every character that's presented. I think I formed an opinion one way or another on every new introduction, and it's difficult to get me to care. You'll laugh, shake your head, facepalm and rage out alongside the characters. I hope it isn't the last we hear of some of the characters that are introduced in because they are so fun and memorable (looking at you Melissa)!

Retribution takes you on a journey with Riley, a journey that helps to round out and add depth to an already multi-layered character. You learn more about this world Bagwell has created, proving just how much time and dedication he's put into developing it. The way the lines are beginning to blur between the game world and the real world add an interesting element that only works to further cement this series spot in my top five series. Bagwell just doesn't disappoint! 

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Matt Doyle's "The Fox, the Dog, and the King"

Matt Doyle's "The Fox, the Dog, and the King"

What I'm Watching This Anime Season

What I'm Watching This Anime Season