So the Chains of Harrow update is here, on time and chock-block full of stuff. Earth got remastered, melee weapon Riven Mods are now a thing, there’s a new update, a ton of QOL changes, raids being broken again and a new quest. I’m just going to talk about the quest, because a lot of this stuff would be better off in their own articles.
Just so you know, tons of spoilers ahead. But it was obvious from the update page alone that the subject of this quest, Rell, was autistic. Couldn’t have made it more obvious if they’d tried.
Anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chains of Harrow is a solo-only quest. You start off going to a Red Veil ship (using a Grineer ship tileset) after getting a distress call. Red Veil are a bunch of edgy murderers, so getting a call from them is weird. They should be able to look after themselves. As the distress call plays, everything gets redder and redder and redder. Then everything goes to normal and Ordis seems worried, as always.
So off good old Volt goes, off to investigate.
Turns out, the lights are all off. Emergency systems only. It’s dark and Lotus isn’t making things any easier by whispering at me. As if she’s forgotten that the communications are pretty much sent directly into our brains. She’s more nervous than I am, and I’m just a mute space ninja being controlled by a space kid. We find bodies. We find messages written on the wall in blood. We find a lone survivor we have to protect from mind-controlled former allies. We protect this woman, the Red Veil’s spiritual leader and priestess, and take her to Iron Wake, which is the base of the Steel Meridian, the Red Veil’s allies.
Iron Wake is basically a mini-relay located on Earth, but it’s only useful if you are allied with the Steel Meridian or the Red Veil (which I’m only allied with so I don’t piss off both Steel Meridian and Perrin Sequence – don’t worry, I’ll have a rant/explanation article about this later on). It’s a cool place to explore but there isn’t really anything there apart from Steel Meridian NPCs and the aforementioned priestess. Turns out, she will only speak to you if you switch to your Space Kid form. The angry thing making Red Veil people go insane is a Tenno called Rell, who they believe to be holy and sacred.
Turns out, Margulis, the person who looked after the Tenno before they all got forced to use Warframes, was too stupid to deal with a single autistic kid and outcast him. So the Red Veil did something good for a change and let him in. The only reason he survived until the present day was because they chained up his Warframe and he basically lived though that.
But there’s something wrong with Rell and bitchy weird shrieking badly-acting priestess woman wants us to find an item so we can communicate with him.
So off we go to another spooky, dark ship, filled with mind-controlled Red Veil fanatics. And we find the relic in the middle of the room. Of course, taking it pisses Rell off and he attacks with invulnerable ghost space kids. After I take a few hits, Lotus and fancy-ass priestess both scream at me to run, so I just use Speed and sprint off at a leisurely pace. That’s fine. I’ve fought invincible enemies before. Running is always an option.
I go back to Iron Wake and the priestess and her stupid black cat communicate with Rell. We get a weird cutscene using emotion cards, with a kind voice asking how we feel. If you weren’t convinced that Rell was autistic before, you will be now.
Once the cutscene ends, we return to our ship. Lotus believes that something has blocked Rell from his emotions, causing him to go insane and cause his emotions to manifest in physical form. If we capture Rell’s lost emotions, which are now running around these murder scenes like weird ghosts, we should be able to make Rell whole again and stop him from murdering people. Lotus seems completely dismissive of ‘the Man in the Wall’ that Rell is scared of. But the thing is, Rell is telling us that there’s someone else. We can see there’s someone else. Heck, we KNOW there is someone else because of the War Within’s ending.
Then we go to three separate places, all doing the same thing – capturing emotions by using kinetic traps from Simaris and shooting the emotions until they die. All the while being slashed to death by a pissed off, ghostly, invulnerable Rell. After the first mission, I made the smart choice and switched Volt out for Valkyr, so I could be invulnerable as I threw out traps.
But seriously, are you telling me that, several thousand, perhaps even million years into the future, a super intelligent race couldn’t work out how to deal with one autistic child? That’s plain dumb. Makes for an interesting story, capturing emotions made into spectral enemies, but still. Plus, we have to do this three times.
It’s the same mission three times. After another seance with the stupid priestess, you can finally go and face Rell for real. Everyone but you has decided you need to free Rell by freeing his Warframe from his chains. Which will kill Rell. The stupid, over the top priestess tells you to go to go to their holy temple, to free Rell. It’s dark and gloomy, like every other mission. Until you reach a special room. You can only continue as your Operator.
This is where everything falls flat.
You walk into a large, round room. You need to use your space kid energy beam to destroy the chains around Harrow, Rell’s Warframe. But as you do so, waves of enemies spawn. Red Veil fanatics, as well as a weird, ghostly figure that is Rell but isn’t. The Man in the Wall, firing blasts of hate at you.
Of course, being a 100 health space kid with a pool of energy drained in 5 seconds, there’s not much you can do. You break a chain, you run away while your energy recharges and then maybe you can kill one or two enemies before you need to recharge again. Oh and half the time, either the Red Veil fanatics are blocking your attacks or your Void Blast fails to disarm them. And there are 2-5 enemies in each wave. Thank heavens there were infinite respawns because I must have died about 30 times. Then I realised that it was EASIER to die and respawn to get my energy back rather than run around like a twat waiting for my energy to recharge.
When dying is your best bet, you KNOW a boss fight is bad.
Eventually, you break all the chains, Harrow falls to the ground and a ghostly Rell appears. He seems thankful and now realises that the Tenno maybe aren’t all stupid douchebags. Lotus and the priestess and her dumb cat chatter away in the background while you stand there, mute.
The emotion cards pop up one last time, with one final image – sleepy. Rell picks a card, then peacefully dies, his Warframe rendered dead. Everyone seems not happy, but at least satisfied with the outcome. Everyone but me. The comic that teased Chains of Harrow suggested that the Tenno cast him out the same way Margulis did. I wanted to talk to Rell. Tell him he was brave and strong. At the very least, I wanted to apologise to the dying space child, tell him I was sorry we treated him badly. I never got that chance.
Overall though, the quest is pretty good. Mostly. It’s a bit repetitive – a bit like Octavia’s Anthem or the Silver Grove. The atmosphere, while cliche, could easily make a weaker individual want to play during daylight hours. But that ending absolutely ruined it. At the very least, the fight should have been like in the War Within, swapping between Warframe and Operator. Or maybe fighting as a Warframe then finally saving Rell as the Operator by talking to him.
Anyway, the quest ends with with a twist – literally the only genuinely worrying part of the quest, and has the potential to be genuinely scary.
When you get back on your ship, somewhere, at random, you’ll see your Operator. A clone of your space kid. Sitting there, smiling at you. They say “Hey, Kiddo!” then disappear when you turn your back. That’s where the quest ends properly.