FimFiction Link - Short ID: 67362/hard-reset
Published: Jan '13
>Well that didn't work...
'Hard Reset' was I believe the second ever fic I've ever read. It is a thirty six-thousand word short story dealing with the Canterlot-invasion and focusing on Twilight who accidentally thrust herself into a time loop. Every time she dies, time resets to just before the invasion. When I first read this story, I was really into it, but as other anons foretold, "horseword infatuation" subsides quickly and now that I look back with a bit more experience, the story is less stellar than I remembered.
There are things I like a lot. Twilight trying to cope with the loop, going from almost a coward, to nearly insane, to back to her problem-solving self is a decent idea. After all, if everything is more or less static, the only thing that can bring change is the protagonist. I also like that she slowly uncovers what steps she exactly needs to take to prevent the catastrophe. Her calculated suicides for instance are enjoyable in a grotesque way. I also think the epilogue is decently heartwarming to elicit at least a mention.
Sadly, however, the nice things run dry quickly. The story can not decide just what sort of mood it wants to convey. One chapter acts all comedic, one sad, there is even a random romance subplot thrown in with Luna. Honestly, the only thing that comes to my mind is that this story is way too self-gratuitous. It's as if the author said
>Pfft, I can include any and all genres and emotions and just wave my hand saying "lol time loop"
But no, you can't. As I've mentioned above, I like the idea of Twilight changing slowly to acclimate to her situation, but this falls apart so quickly and gives way to what could be best described as a bunch of AU Twilights who have extremely little to do with the original one or the conflict at hand. Nothing shows the plot being all over the place more than the fact that Twilight being gay becomes a major plot point. Good for her, but holy shit I don't care! She's living the apocalypse day! I don't know if the author was just venting their own IRL frustrations or just suffered irreparable damage from reading too many clopfics, but it felt so forced and ground the plot to a halt not once, but twice.
And then there is the alternative ending which really just puts the cherry on top. The author warns us that it's dark, but the whole chapter boils down to
>Twilight is ebil and she's now Chrysalis 2 and she's gonna >rape Luna and kill the Elements
That's not dark, that's bloody ridiculous and I say this as someone who really likes Changeling fics. More could be said, but you get the idea.
Overall: 5/10 The concept is great, some of the execution works nicely, the writing is for the most part competent, but otherwise the story doesn't really live up to its premise and is marred by stupid ideas. It's not overly long, so you're not gonna waste too much time with it, but that's the most I can say about it.
I was hooked for almost the entire fic and read the whole thing in a day. It's not an obvious 10/10 and I read it too quickly to make a clear statement about why it's good, but it's easily one of the best fics that I've read. The only issue is that once the time loop plot is almost resolved, it starts covering the effect that the loops are having on Twilight and this includes two fic-damaging reveals about her character. These reveals become the focus of the final chapters of the fic and the start of the sequel (A Stitch in Time). Although they're not terrible, they're much less interesting than the time loop plot that we signed up for and slowly become a genre shift. I'll say more about them in my review of the sequel, but it suffices to say that they drag an otherwise great fic down a notch.
Posted at Filly's request.
This fic accidentally ended up being a good meta story. Reading it perfectly conveys Twilight's "Please, just let it be over"-brand of hopelessness to the reader.
Let's start with the biggest issue. The pacing sucks and the fic fails to ever stick to a given atmosphere/feel for more than a single paragraph. It jumps from showing how Luna is epic™ and sexy™, to gay personal drama (literally), to an “all of your friends are dead” reveal in a matter of minutes. And then it keeps jumping back and forth without any rhyme or reason. As a result, it’s impossible to take it at all seriously. The “sad” scenes lack impact, the “cool” scenes are absurd and the drama is entirely out of place here.
The fic starts strong but peters out before long, and turns into a massive slog near the end. It also commits the cardinal sin of timeloop fics, where instead of the protagonist growing as a person, Twilight just levels up a bunch and becomes more proficient. Also, edge.
A LOT of edge. Ponies are using “buck!” as an expletive and there’s sex happening just barely ‘offscreen’, but the violence trumps the edginess contest by a lot.
One of the first things that you learn is that changelings are just murdering ponies left and right. Twilight sees it happen, and experiences it several times. But that’s OK, she’s acting so OOC that when she goes on a stealing spree that ends with a changeling slaughter rampage, the sheer absurdity of the scene overshadows all other issues. The same Twilight lets thousands of ponies, including her friends, die so she can have three hours of hot mare-on-mare sex with Princess Luna, something the reader gets to see in detail.
That one good thing about the fic, actually – it’s pretty funny at times. Usually not when it tries to be (though some jokes are not terrible), but when it all comes apart and you can’t do anything other than laugh at it.
But wait, there’s more!
You know what an epic™ edgy™ shortfic really needs? An arc dedicated to Twilight contemplating her homosexuality and coming out. At least that’s what the author thought. Even among the jumble of ideas that is Hard Reset, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
The issue isn’t that she’s gay, it’s that her being gay is a major part of the plot. Between all the murdering and going insane, Twilight struggles to decide if she should tell her friends and family, what would it mean for her, would other ponies be willing to accept her etc. Not only is that a baffling plot to feature in an apocalyptic timeloop story, it’s also treated like a human world issue.
The idea, though not original, is cool. The writing is pretty decent, too. But the execution of the idea isn’t and I can’t recommend it. If you don’t mind edge and drama, you could read it as a fandom classic. Thankfully, you can just skip this fic and read The Best Night Ever instead. It’s everything Hard Reset wished to be.
But what Hard Reset is? A 4/10 fic, if I’m being generous.