Click! The door just locked and we are inside. We only have an hour to figure out the clues, find the key, and escape these four walls. They watch us through a camera and tell us they will offer us a clue if we get desperate. Are we living our worst nightmare at the hands of a manic tormentor?

No! I look around the room filled with a couple of my friends and a handful of friendly, excited strangers. We have paid for the privilege of locking ourselves in a room together. We are taking part in a room escape adventure—a trendsetting form of entertainment coming to Annapolis soon. We are smiling and, together, we are determined to beat the numerous puzzles and get out before they have to come let us out.

I was a little nervous about the prospect of a room escape activity. I’m a smidge claustrophobic and I had trouble putting trust in the employees actually letting me out after an hour if we failed. What if I needed to use the bathroom? What if someone had a heart attack? No worries. They let you out. What if the strangers in the group tried to take over and we didn’t get along? Not an issue. Every ounce of brainpower is required, so everyone is necessary and eager to work together. Luckily, nobody in our group had any problems.

Once the door closes and locks, it’s time to focus. With the goal to find the key to get out of the room, participants move about the room, analyzing the various props and decorations for clues. Solve one puzzle, it will lead to a lock, or a key to open up another puzzle in the room. In our case, we would learn a code, and I would have to use it on a funky lock that I’d never seen before. Get stuck and you can get an extra clue to help you along from the person watching through the camera. We raced around, solving all the puzzles in the room, eagerly watching the clock to see the hands ticking towards the end of our hour to escape. Our hearts pounded, our laughs echoed. Eureka! We did it. We solved our way to the final key, and with six minutes to spare. We all hugged and felt like winners.

Taking part in a room escape while visiting a town is a fun way to immerse yourself in an adventure with a bit of local flavor, as some of the rooms will be decorated with a local theme. Annapolis Mission Escape Rooms will be opening later this month with themed rooms including Military and Edgar Allen Poe, along with others.

Families can enjoy the room escape experience together, as people of all ages love the challenge. The cost will be $28 a person, but there will be a discounted rate if a group books the whole room. To find out more about making reservations and opening times, visit the website here. Or call them at (410) 263-3333. The attraction is at 40 West St, Annapolis, MD 21401.

Photo credit: Annapolis Mission Escape Rooms.