I’m Better with Paint-by-Numbers – Room: Gallery Heist – January 28, 2018


Play if… you know the difference between impressionism and pointilism.

Avoid if… the thought of going to an art gallery bores you to tears.


Escape Artist DC:

Address: 720 I St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 301-502-2043

The Room – Gallery Heist:

Description (from the company website):As well-known detectives, you are accustomed to solving mysteries. However, this one may have you a little stumped until you can unearth the clues.

A valuable painting has been stolen from the art gallery, right under the noses of daytime guards. It is up to you to crack the case and bring the culprits to justice. To make matters worse – the gallery manager, lackadaisical in his duties, does not check every room in the expansive gallery and locks you in. No worries, though. Your way out is simple: You just must find the missing artwork and figure out who stole it.

Feeling a bit dismayed? Just look around you. All the aesthetically appealing artwork is there to view. It is also there to tell a story. In fact, if you want to win your way out, the answers you need are embedded in the artworks themselves. Now get started: You are running against a clock!

Difficulty (1-10): N/A

Time Limit: 45 minutes

Cost: $20 (for adults; $16 with Student ID)

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 3-10

Staging Area: Decent sized waiting area with plenty of things to keep you occupied while you wait. FYI, to access the site you’ll have to go up half a flight of stairs. Then, to get to the actual escape rooms, another flight of stairs.

Metro Access/Parking: Eastern Market is a few blocks away. We recommend that or Lyft/Uber unless you want to roll the dice on driving and finding street parking.


This is the video we took before we entered the room:

This is the video we took just after we completed the room:

Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this room for free, with the understanding that we would continue to provide an honest review and follow the same process we’ve used on all of our other ratings.


Description of the room: you enter what appears to be a small art gallery that has a trunk in the center of the room.

Understanding of the Mission: Search the gallery for the clues to find the missing painting and the culprit who stole it.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 6:40

Our Suggested Party Size: We were 3 people and didn’t have a hard time with this. We’d say 4-6 (at the higher end if you’re inexperienced).

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Heather

Worth the time and money? Yes.

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:


Overall Expectation (Summary)
We came to Escape Artist that night expecting just to do Episode 2 of House of Pawns. After we completed it and did our post room video we went back inside to find out that while they prepped Episode 3 we would be thrust into the Gallery Heist room. Normally, this is okay with the Escape Room Guys. However we had only planned to do one room and were not quite mentally prepared for 3 full rooms. However, as you’ll see, this room was collectively our favorite of the evening. We were at Escape Artist DC to check out a new location for us, and to do House of Pawns, Episode 2. After completing that room, our contact offered to let us do Gallery Heist while he reset House of Pawns 2 for House of Pawns, Episode 3. We’ve done 3 rooms in a row before (4, actually, is our record), so we didn’t think anything of it. We didn’t know too much about this one because we hadn’t researched it (not knowing that we were going to do this room), so we really went in blind.
Story (Rating)
Someone broke into the Gallery and stole a painting. Because of your excellent skills in deduction and reasoning you’ve been called in to figure out the logistics of the issues at hand. NEED TO GET THAT PAINTING BACK!!!

Rating: 5.5/10

A renowned art gallery was a little bit lax in doing its background checks on its security guards, and a valuable piece of art was stolen. You’ve been brought in because of your excellent record as crime-solving detectives to figure out the heist.

Rating: 7/10

Mission (Rating)
Now that you’re on the payroll for this heist, it’s time to get to work. You need to figure out who stole the painting, where they hid it, and how they did it.

Yay multiple objectives!

Rating: 7/10

You’ve been hired to find out what painting was stolen and who stole it. Simple enough, right?

Rating: 7/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
Well here we go again. You know how I hate saying I’ve never seen that before but, well, I’ve never seen that before. Plenty of new puzzles to uncover, and plenty of reworked puzzles to…rework. I think my favorites were either how difficult we made some of the puzzles seem or just how simple they were when we sat down, literally, and worked them out. (I say literally because it was the puzzle that I sat down at a desk to work on.)

There was also something with a ping pong ball that somewhat reminded us of one we had seen at Breakout Games (yet it also reminded me of Winona Ryder in South Park). I’ll leave that one there for you to figure out.

I think this was the 3rd, maybe 4th, room we’ve encountered where there was a laptop to be used.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this room was the rather minimalist approach to the puzzles at the start. There was, if I recall, only one padlock in there. And you know how much we like a lack of padlocks. There was also a bit of a sense of excitement when we got into the second room, as that’s where, for me, the real fun started. (The first room that you start in was kind of slow and a little lackluster in aesthetic appeal. But the second room turned on the charm once you got into it.)

Rating: 9.5/10

There were a LOT of puzzles to solve in this room, and none of them were the same type. As would be expected with an art gallery, attention to detail and careful scrutiny will be your friends in this room… and maybe looking at things from a different perspective.

The room, at first, doesn’t look like it has a lot going for it besides the artwork on the walls, but everything quickly begins to unfold as you start solving the different puzzles. Even the names of the artwork are included in the mystery (obviously since you have to find out what painting was stolen).

I loved that there were puzzles that used logic, others that were more actual puzzle-like, others that required linking things together, and maybe some riddle-esque things to figure out as well.

Not a lot of loose props throughout the room, so you have to use whatever is at your disposal.

Rating: 9/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
I wouldn’t necessarily call the bulk of the puzzles in this escape room difficult. Tricky, yes. There was one specific puzzle I do recall that threw us off where we ended up using what would essentially be the key to solving the puzzle in the puzzle itself. This proved troublesome so we had to eliminate it to continue.

Regardless, this happened to be one of those rooms where I kind of just took control and ran things. At least in the first half of the room. Now, obviously that makes things a little more entertaining for me and a little tender on the psyche for my friends. But who cares amirite? 😀

Rating: 9/10

I wouldn’t say that any of the puzzles in this room were overly complex, but they were somewhat involved and a few required more than one person to work on it to figure out the solution in less than 10 minutes. Remember that this is only a 45 minute room, so we really kept plugging away at each puzzle as we solved it.

One of the things that I really liked about this room was that some of the puzzles had multiple ways to solve them.

Rating: 9/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
The flow of this room and everything that goes in this category are kind of hard to describe. You start off with not much. And you end with quite a lot. While, yes, things did fit for it being a gallery Heist, it could also be described as a gallery/office Heist because that’s 2nd room is more office than gallery. It was, however, believable that we were in a gallery as there was, you guessed it, art on the walls. And the art, and the names of the art, etc., we’re all used in some way shape or form.
Rating: 8/10
Lots of unique puzzles here, and we’ve done a few rooms that were art or museum based.

The decor was well done and you felt that you were in a small art gallery. In fact, the owner actually painted all of the paintings in the room, which was a really cool fact to find out afterwards.

The flow worked really well and the room is DEFINITELY not a linear room. We split off individually for a bit, and then came back together, and then split off again. I felt like I was an accordion at one point.

The design of the room was really well done and everything worked well together and fit the theme and the mission. I do like how everything was integrated into the storyline.

Rating: 8/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
This room was a ton of fun. Completely opposite from the House of Pawns series, the puzzles in this room were more visual and hands on than thought-provoking and were a nice change of pace from the other rooms we did. I think this one was my favorite of the night because it was a lot of fun to play. The other two rooms we did were very mentally challenging (and draining), so this was a nice change of pace.
Game Master (Summary)
Our GM for this game was the same as the first. He was good, less unsolicited help than the first room, but the way in which Clues were provided was distracting. It was over an intercom that was echoing while we could hear him through the door. So we had to tell him to stop using whatever device it was he was using and just talk to us through the door. This proved significantly more useful and significantly less annoying. Melind did a good job for the most part of letting us progress through the room and occasionally offered some unsolicited nudging. We had some tech issues with the audio system echoing with his actual voice, so we asked him to just yell through the door.
How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
As I said above, the system was broken. We had to tell him “we got it” a few times until he laid off a bit but the help we did need was useful.  I don’t think that we asked for any clues, but the clarifications Melind offered were helpful. I enjoyed talking with him afterwards about how he designed the room and some “easter eggs” he hid in the room that could aid players in their progression through the game.
Anger Level Score ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
Of the rooms done that night, this was the least frustrating room.

Rating: Fists – 0/5

Nope. Didn’t feel stupid at all in this one.

Rating: — FacePalms – 0/5


Final Thought: out of the three rooms we did that day, Gallery Heist was probably the most fun and enjoyable to play. The artwork was great to look at and the incorporate of the artwork itself and the names into the design of the room was well done. It was a good break between two other very mentally challenging rooms and just a lot of fun to play.

2 thoughts on “I’m Better with Paint-by-Numbers – Room: Gallery Heist – January 28, 2018

  1. Another great review by ERG! Just a quick note about reworked puzzles, we opened our doors more than 3 years ago and were the second escape room to have opened in DC area when there were none including the surrounding tri-state area. As of today there are more than 15 escape room vendors in DC/MD/VA so it’s fair to get the feeling of reworked puzzles as there are a lot more options available now 🙂

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