Escape Artist DC – House of Pawns (Chapter 2) [Review]

On our trip to our nation’s capital, we had to visit Escape Artist DC… Because they have nearly the same name as we do…

And we had to play their politically themed game… Because Washington, DC.

Location: Washington, DC

Date played: October 31, 2015

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Price: $20 per ticket, but it can vary

Escape Artist DC


House of Pawns is the second chapter in a Congressional conspiracy caper.

“Rumor has it, the latest Asteroid Bill will be a real game changer for overcoming America’s fossil fuel dependency. As the plot thickens, you discover that the senator’s old college pal may have come upon a secret formula capable of converting the recently found asteroid’s element into cheap and abundant energy. As an Alternative Energy Lobbyist, you must figure out the secret element and earn your freedom!”

Basically you’re breaking into the office of a senator and rummaging through his stuff to find evidence that supports your position on an alternative energy bill.

There was a lot of backstory from chapter one. None of it was necessary, but it did add some flavor to the experience. It was cute, but if you expect West Wing or House of Cards levels of political intrigue, you will be disappointed. The politics underlying the game were heavily fictional and benign (probably so that players don’t get fired up about their personal beliefs).


From a staging standpoint, the room looked more or less like the stereotype of a senator’s office. However, I never felt like I was actually in a senator’s office.

There were a number of entertaining props in the room. My personal favorite was the Obama birther certificate tray (which was the only thing I saw that could push a player’s political buttons).

An ash tray that looks like Barak Obama's birth certificate.


With House of Pawns, Escape Artist DC has created a steady game. The puzzles offered some challenge, but never aggressively.

All puzzles ended with a key or combination lock. There was nothing magical.

Everything in the game flowed easily. Nothing became tedious or overwhelming… but there wasn’t really anything special either.

Episodic updates

The most interesting part of House of Pawns was that Escape Artist DC has decided to make it an episodic game with updates every 4-5 months. They use the same room and refit it with new puzzles, props, and story.

While the story didn’t captured my imagination, I was intrigued by the episodic concept itself.

Should I play Escape Artist DC’s House of Pawns (Chapter 2)

In House of Pawns, Escape Artist DC is offering a strong rookie game. It was easy to play and didn’t throw anything too crazy at our team (most of whom had played fewer than three games). Our group tied for the second fastest time on the leaderboard (and one of our players elected to solve the Rubik’s Cube prop that was sitting on a shelf… because he could).

Believe it or not, the guy with the helmet solved the Rubik's Cube.
Believe it or not, the guy with the helmet solved the Rubik’s Cube.

Priced at $20 per person for a 45 minute game, Escape Artist DC is offering a value game that looks pretty good and plays smoothly. I don’t recommend this game for experienced players looking to test themselves or  interact with a story that will get their heart pounding. However, this is a great place to take your friends who aren’t sure if room escapes are for them.

The episodic nature of House of Pawns is the interesting twist. I’m curious to see if Escape Artist DC can successfully pull players back every few months with their chapter updates; I hope they can find a formula that works.

Book your session with Escape Artist DC’s House of Pawns (Chapter 2), and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Artist DC comped our tickets for this game.

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