How "Newcomer Friendly" is The Enemy Within?
Telltale started their promotion of this season by saying the game was accessible to new players who hadn't played Season 1. But is that entirely true? Do people need to play Season 1? If so, could Telltale have done more with a multi-season continuity?
Personally, I don't think it's as accessible as they claim.
While the opening monologue does write off previous events in a vague fashion, and a few scenes down the line mention key choices of S1, the game does continue and evolve the relationships of both Selina and John Doe. These are key elements in the story (sort of, for Catwoman) and I don't see how someone can just jump in with those relationships established.
John's appearance at the funeral is supposed to be surprising, but the encounter familiar. We know already from Season 1 that he's attracted to Bruce Wayne's character. He seems to have an ulterior motive, last we saw him. We know he's a "different" Joker. To a new player, it must be really off-putting. He's clearly the Joker, and new players would most likely treat him as such. The encounter with him is brief, and is the only time he appears in Episode 1 so there's not enough first-impression characterisation going on for the full picture up-to-date. Is this a good first impression of John Doe to the player?
As for Catwoman, many Dialogue options hint towards previous encounters or previous relationships when you meet at the Hideout. A lot of dialogue changes depending on your relationship status with her at the end of Season 1. For a new player, it's probably easy to fill in the gaps. But, do they still miss out?
I say this season does still hinge on the last one. It's stand-alone, but relies on past knowledge.
I don't know why they want new players jumping in on "sequel seasons", but for this one I don't think it fits. Regardless, a player is going to have to play most of Season 1 for the full picture. Can't jump in on S1Ep4 for John, since Bruce was just hospitalised. Can't jump in on Ep3 for context, since Harvey was just attacked at the debate. Can't jump in on Ep2, since Bruce just found out his parents were criminals, and Falcone arrested.
I think for this season they could have done better, or done more. Next time, they should embrace the continuity they've crafted. Bring back a character from Season 1. Have one scene be Season1/2 choice-dependent. Really show that choices can matter in the long run.
Episode 5 was the benchmark of a tailored episode (it's like 80% was a different story in each playthrough), so we should see how they can push it for more scenes throughout the season.