Amman, May 2023
In most respects Black and White was an old fashioned but clever game with plenty of nice ideas – but which I hesitate to recommend for reasons entirely unrelated to any of the puzzles.
I couldn’t find many escape rooms available in Jordan; all the ones I found are in Amman, and most of those in the same district. We tried what seems to be the largest of the companies available, Escape The Room Jordan, picking Black and White at random from their selection.
This turned out to be a conspiracy story where you’re investigating the apartment of a missing photographer who may have found out some dangerous truths; your goal is to find the roll of camera film with his evidence. It’s a simple but striking room decorated mostly in black and white to match the title.
Also matching the decor was a considerable use of visual illusions and perception-based puzzles, ranging from things I’ve seen several dozen times to more inventive ideas. Even where I’d seen plenty of similar puzzles before, they were still done well with satisfying logic.
Our host pinged in the first hint within minutes of us starting, before we’d had a chance to get stuck or even to get stuck in. We asked him to hold back and stubbornly avoided looking at the hint screen – and to his credit he then held back for the rest of the game, and only provided a hint at the one point we asked for one.
Some props showed signs of overuse, and I recognised one dead puzzle that had clearly been replaced by a simpler mechanism. That didn’t particular detract from the gameplay. What did put me off was a set of clues that explained the conspiracy at length, going into detail about the forces of the New World Order and things like how women’s rights are a plot to undermine society. The text here was entirely extraneous to the game (there was also story text that revealed the plot, distinct from this); my teammates didn’t bother reading it and enjoyed the game more as a result. Of course, a game about a conspiracy theorist can have wild conspiracies in it, but to me it seemed like genuinely distasteful ideas were being presented approvingly, in a way that made it harder to just play and enjoy the room.
That’s likely to be specific to this one room, and I imagine I’d have enjoyed one of their others more. Talking to the staff afterwards, it sounded like Lost In Time is the one they’re most proud of and the one they recommend to enthusiasts, so if you’re thinking of playing something by this company, I’d suggest trying that ahead of Black and White.