In Art Heist, the obscenely-rich Harrington family invites you to an exhibition of their priceless art. Upset that his family hoards wealth, though, their youngest son, Charles, asks your party to steal a painting… Fearing detection, Charles leaves only a series of clues to help you find the right artwork. But you’re not alone! Charles has also convinced one of the staff to help you escape… Can you find the painting, steal it and flee the scene – all in 60 minutes?
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 23rd June 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: Families or a Party Game
Every Wednesday in my household is board game night. We’re not technically supposed to double book ourselves with anything on that day, but on this particular Wednesday my player two had invited a friend a friend over…
“No worries, we’ve got ourselves a 3rd player. That means it’s HEIST TIME!”
The Art Heist has been sitting on my shelf for an embarrassingly long time. But in my defence, it’s been a long lockdown and The Art Heist is definitely best played in a group setting. There’s a bit of set up required as you empty the box and follow instructions on each item: Pin this to a wall, put this on a door, put this item on a coffee table. If it’s your kinda thing, here’s me setting up our game over on TikTok:
Escape Room in Your Home
What Trapped does quite differently from most other ‘boxed escape room’ companies on the market is turn your space into an actual escape room. Ordinary items can become extraordinary within the context of the game and even the host can play too. Just pick a door, set the scene, and try to escape! It’s pretty cool, really.
On the back of each item in the box is a few lines of instruction, indicating where best to put it: “Place this on a wall” or “This goes on a windowsill or coffee table”. The rest is up to your imagination – but it helps to keep everything roughly in the same general place so your guests aren’t wildly searching through your cupboards to find the next clue.
I also reckon this game would be fantastic for a family setting. Got a group of kids in your house? Give them a name badge, an art collectors pamphlet, and let them figure it out for themselves. It’s wonderfully fun exploring and looking for hints, and leaves a lot to the imagination!
What I also love about this style of gameplay is that it fits so perfectly with the setting: An Art Gallery. The only rule? Don’t look too suspicious. It’s so easy to get lost in the immersion of the game, that you’re just an inconspicuous group of art collectors quietly perusing an art gallery before BOOM stolen painting and lets get the heck out of here.
…Well, that’s the idea anyway, though it didn’t completely go to plan. Why’s that?
“Alexa, play some heist music”
Cue Alexa to DROP THE BASS. Apparently searching for heist music via an Alexa device plays a hilarious medley of hardcore electronica music, but we thought to ourselves, “Hey, why not? Let’s roll with it.”
Combined with a couple of beers on an otherwise really quiet Wednesday afternoon, the whole experience was quite surreal! I couldn’t stop laughing, except to take this one ‘serious’ photo.
How to Play The Art Heist
There are two stages to The Art Heist:
- First, you need to identify which painting you’ve been tasked to steal. No, no – Charles wouldn’t just tell you which painting to steal, that would be too easy. You’ve got to follow his trail of breadcrumbs and figure it out for yourself!
- Second, you need to escape with the painting undetected. It’s a good job the painting is so small I could just slip it right into my pocket! Haha!
We may have missed something (I’ll blame the beer and confusing electronic music), but we spent around 90% of the time on Part A and only 10% of the time on Part B. There was also one item which I realised after packing up that we’d not used either…. Days later I still can’t figure out what it’s for, but perhaps we’re just that good of art thieves we didn’t need it.
If at any point you find yourselves needing a clue, the clue system is an absolute delight. Trapped provides a ‘clue book’ which, at first glance, looks like gobble-de-gook. By overlaying another object found in the box and lining up the numbers, a secret clue is revealed. It’s a really nice touch if you want to avoid spoiling the game for yourself!
So how did we steal the painting?
Not without help of course! The clues our handler Charles had left behind were tricky… But not too tricky! Nothing frustrating, and as a very casual play through we didn’t mind checking for a hint or two to keep us on the right track and having fun.
Puzzle solving veterans will probably immediately recognise certain puzzle types and be able to figure them out quickly, but new players will benefit from a hint or two I’m sure.
Overall, players can expect to encounter some folding puzzles, puzzles that involve finding details in blocks of text, puzzles that involve looking at things from a certain angle, some pretty cool maths puzzles, and so on. As you can probably tell, it wasn’t the most challenging game, but heck it was fun and I’m really glad I picked up a copy.
A fun and silly Wednesday afternoon’s worth of fun! Particularly great for a larger party of a family setting, but we had an excellent time over a crate of beer as a group of three non-puzzley 20 something year olds. It’s got great mass-market appeal and would be an awesome game to introduce to a group of friends not used to puzzle games.
I would say that the size makes it sit a little awkwardly on my board games shelf, but as a one-use game it’s already been packed up and sent to my co-writers here on The Escape Roomer and I can’t wait to hear what they thought of the game too.
Trapped: The Art Heist can be purchased from most major online distributors for around £13.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.